These Are Some of the Best International, Non-English TV Shows - MovieWeb

Here are some of the best and most popular international television shows that bring the world together through the artistic medium.
Every nation has its own unique identity with different cultures, languages, and people. Hence, these countries have their own specific stories to tell; that is what makes this world diverse and beautiful. With the introduction of non-English TV shows into Western homes through streaming, people of different nations are able to connect, understand, and listen to stories of numerous kinds. The idea of a language barrier is also slowly dissolving thanks to these foreign and international television shows, with streaming services like Netflix creating numerous dubbed audio tracks in different languages. In a sense, these shows bring the world together.
Recently, there has been a huge spike in popularity when it comes to television from around the world. In the past, foreign TV shows went unnoticed by North American viewership; it was mainly the citizens of these foreign nations and their emigrants who were keen on watching them. Thus, due to the very scarce viewership and their low popularity, not a lot of attention was given to these limited-access TV shows. However, in recent years, the North American audience has shown a great interest in these non-English television series. With the influx of new, unknown shows from around the world becoming somewhat overwhelming, here are some of the best and most popular international, non-English TV shows.
The Indian TV series Bombay Begums tackles one of the most prominent issues in South Asian countries, the problem of gender inequality. Bombay Begums is a six-part series that follows six different types of women who belong to different classes, different financial statuses, different age groups, and different backgrounds. However, they all share one common issue– the harsh reality of being a woman in a heavily patriarchal society. This series is a definite eye-opener and allows the viewer to question issues related to gender, especially in the East. It is streaming on Netflix.
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This Danish series is one where the viewers are able to engage with the story regardless of the language barrier. Interestingly, it can be said that Forbrydelsen illustrates how a TV show is capable of breaking the boundaries imposed by language, as pointed out by Amy Amatangelo, who states that the actors' "deft facial expressions" elucidate the plot perfectly, without much need of language at all. The impressive impact of the dark crime drama Forbrydelsen can be seen through its American counterpart The Killing.
The Bridge is the creative result of a collaboration between Sweden and Denmark, so this fascinating Scandanavian crime series can be seen as one that explores the best of both worlds. The Bridge starts off with the dismembered body of a murdered woman being found on the Oresund Bridge that connects the two countries. With this starting point, this series follows an enthusiastic investigation of crimes, criminals, prejudice, and national identity. It's a quietly political, tense crime drama that was remade in America, where the two countries were Mexico and the United States, appropriately.
Manga, the Japanese version of comics, is a popular form of entertainment amongst people in every age category. Hence, it is no surprise when a popular Manga series created by Haro Aso is adapted to the screens. Alice In Borderland is a sci-fi thriller where the protagonists end up in a fantasy, but not a fantastical version of Tokyo. The plot revolves around a very modern simulation game (similar to the rebooted Jumanji or Zathura) where the players have to play the game in order to survive. The story is like the antithesis of the plot of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland— as suggested by the title, instead of a wonderland, the characters of this Japanese TV show find themselves in the border of reality and a thriller-induced fantasy which is truly deadly. It's an inventive, wild series which is wholly worth watching.
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In December 2012, Delhi, India contained one of the most inhumane and disgusting acts a person can commit. The gang-rape of Nirbhaya exposed the Indian government's and police's role when it comes to crimes against women. Delhi Crime from Richie Mehta is based on this tragic incident and is situated in its aftermath. The series follows DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, played by Shefali Shah, and her fight in finding the culprits of the case. The character of Chaturvedi is based on the real-life former DCP South, Chhaya Sharma, who led the 2012 case. This series has definitely gained the acclaim it deserves, as it illustrates a real-life story and the huge flaws in a corrupt system.
Yet another story that reflects on real social issues specific to the country of origin (Spain), Las Chicas del Cable (or Cable Girls) illustrates the challenges faced by and restrictions imposed on Spanish women in the 1920s due to the patriarchal society. The series thus features a very feminist perspective, and portrays issues that are still relevant in today's society (whether in Spain or anywhere else). The show focuses on four female protagonists, each with their own story, who join a telecommunications company in Madrid as operators. This allows them to gain their own source of independence and income, acting as the catalyst for a great period drama. Interestingly, this series is also the first Spanish original series produced by Netflix, and was one of five original, new Spanish projects the streaming service had in development in 2019.
Set in 1929 Berlin, this neo-noir German TV series is an amalgamation of mystery, romance, and action. The critic Emily VanDerWerff has compared Babylon Berlin to HBO's Game of Thrones, which are different in plot but similar in production and feel. She points out how, like the latter, Babylon Berlin is based on a hit book series, is an expensive production, and contains complex and fascinating storylines. However, what makes this particular TV show unique (and arguably better) is the ways in which these storylines are further expounded rather than dying off confusingly. The show is a gloriously costumed and designed spectacle with a massive ensemble that draws you in and keeps its grasp firm.
This Spanish TV series became an instant international hit due to its exciting storyline that keeps the audience on their toes. La Casa de Papel or Money Heist revolves around a gang that's recruited by an ingenious character who calls himself the Professor, played by Álvaro Morte. He breaks into the Royal Mint of Spain, takes some people hostage, and steals a large amount of money in a series of exciting set pieces. What makes this show interesting is the sudden plot twists as well as the ethically gray idea that these "thieves" are not consciously bad. It makes one question any social system where the poor face many injustices and barely have anything, and need to steal in order to survive.
Another in a seemingly endless array of excellent South Korean shows on Netflix, The Silent Sea intensely captures present anxieties.


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