Back in January COVID broke out. Soon enough countries were locking down banning their citizens from leaving their homes in hopes to save as many lives as possible. Months passed and quarantine lifted little by little. The flexibility did not extend to traveling out of the country, however. With people’s patience decreasing and their restlessness increasing the population was forced to find new hobbies to feed their hunger for entertainment.
Though making bread, watching Tiger King, walking, picking up a new passion project and reading were sustainable for a period of time, those of us that craved cultural exploration were left with no way to satisfy our craving… or so I thought.
At this time, traveling is dangerous. Nothing is certain. It’s a risk traveling to a different state much less to a different country. That does not mean that we can’t explore other walks of life in other ways though. Sure, it might not be what you planned or as amazing as being there but it’s something. Over quarantine, I started watching foreign tv shows. Foreign tv shows meaning shows that were written, produced, and filmed in other countries besides America. It’s a weak replacement to the real thing but it is a refreshing break from our American shows. In watching more foreign tv shows I have learned more about different cultures, languages, sense of humor, geography, history, and fashion. If you want to travel without leaving your living room then let me put you on my 10 favorite foreign tv shows.
To start off the foreign tv shows list we have Derry Girls. This British sitcom was created and written by Lisa McGee. First airing in Britain in January 2018, it became an instant hit even claiming the title of the most-watched series in Northern Ireland in its first year on air. Thanks to its amazing cast and witty writing it was picked up by Netflix Internationally which is where it remains.
This dark-humored series sheds light on what being a teenager in Derry, Northern Ireland, in the 1990s, (when Northern Ireland was struggling with a low-level war known as The Troubles which was based on sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants) was like. Yet, The Troubles remain in the background only to be highlighted occasionally which keeps the show light and easy. In this show, viewers follow five teenagers (four Irish girls and one English boy (a cousin to one of the girls)) as they hilariously balance their families, Catholic school, puberty, fun, relationships, and ultimately, growing up.
This extremely well written, sarcastic, and sharp-tongued Canadian sitcom is one worth a watch if you like to laugh and appreciate clever banter. It revolves around a small rural Canadian town called Letterkenny. This foreign tv shows series is based around two siblings (Wayne and Katy) who run a small farm and produce stand along with 2 of Wayne’s best friends. Weaving in and out of episodes, the audience keeps up with two best friend hockey players named Reilly and Jonesy- both of which are in an off and on again relationship with Katy. The more you watch the show the more interesting and cunning it is. In every episode, you are reacquainted with the many storylines and relationships between these over-the-top characters whether it be an interaction with a member of the “hicks”, the town’s flamboyant minister, one of the town’s druggies (better known as the “skids”), the “natives”, the Mennonites or the Quebecois one thing’s for sure, you are thoroughly entertained the 30 minutes you are watching it. Find it on Hulu to see for yourself.
Fleabag is a British black comedy series written and created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge who also stars as the main character. Centering around an English woman, known only as “Fleabag”, you watch as she struggles through life and her emotions after a tragic loss. In every episode, we see her navigate love, family, life, and loss in London with funny quips sprinkled throughout each episode. We are invited in by Fleabag who candidly shares her internal monologue directly with viewers which is refreshing and fun to see on TV shows besides Malcolm in the Middle. While it is told with tragedy fringing the edges of every episode it is a good watch for those who enjoy dry-wit and real emotion.
This British TV show greatly differs from the tv shows we have discussed thus far. Veering off of comedy and onto science fiction, this dystopian psychological anthology series has been compared to the American show The Twilight Zone (also found on Netflix). The series intricately dissects today’s world, human nature, and the unforeseen repercussions of modern technology hence the title Black Mirror (our phone, computer, tv, etc. screens).
This Spanish thriller series can be found on Netflix. It is not in English so if you don’t like subtitles this one might not be for you though the option to dub in English is available. This series is multifaceted with various twists and turns. After three low-class teenagers’ school collapses they are forced to enroll in a private school in Spain. The gap between rich and poor students is exemplified and bears grave consequences leaving one student dead and you at the edge of your seat.
This British series is best described as a coming-of-age tale concentrating on four English lads as they fumble and fall through adolescence. Being in the grey area of popular and not and “one step above the freaks”, you watch as the boys try to make the best of their senior year in their suburb outside of London. Kind of like the male version of Derry Girls (minus being set in Northern Ireland) but more perverse. No longer available on Netflix, it can be found on Amazon Prime Video or Sky for those interested.
This British science-fiction comedy-drama tv-series is unexpected, raunchy, creative, and rewarding. The spotlight is cast on a group of young convicts sentenced to do community service for a set amount of time. One day while doing their community service the group is caught in a bazaar electrical storm granting them superpowers that change the course of their lives, purpose, and the direction of the show for the remainder of the series. Watch it on Hulu if you like science fiction, suspense, and drama.
This Japanese Manga fantasy action series is set in a world built to protect its residents from huge towering man-eating humanoids known as Titans. The story wraps around the life of Eren Yeager, a young boy who seeks revenge on the Titans after his hometown and mother were destroyed by them. As you are pulled more into the narrative you are introduced to others with the same intention as Yeager which is to defeat these flesh-eating skinless giants the only question is how?
If at first, you think it’s too weird for you then don’t worry. That’s a given. It’s wild and very out of the box but that is exactly why you can’t stop watching it. The illustration, character development, imaginative storyline, and dialogue are top-notch and that’s coming from someone who only watched it because one of my best friends made me. Given that it is on this list, I am very happy that she did.
Following devastation comes tragedy for this Swedish teen as she finds herself on trial for murder following a lethal school shooting in a wealthy Stockholm suburb. This show is named accordingly for the more you watch the more you are pulled in. This Swedish crime drama is the first Sweedish speaking series on Netflix so you know it’s something worth watching.
Baby is an Italian tv series created for Netflix. As the show progresses you meet two students at a posh high school in Rome as well as the lives that cuff them. The students soon become engulfed in the curiosities of the city’s underworld where sex, lust, crime, and sin lounge, waiting for their next hosts.
So, there it is. A list of 10 foreign tv shows accessible tv shows to distract you from what you know too well, take you out of your living room and into a different culture without sacrificing your or other’s safety.
These were just the top ten foreign tv shows that came to my mind so please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any more foreign tv shows to suggest! If you have happened to see any of them comment below your thoughts. Let’s discuss!
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