Editors’ Picks: Foreign Language TV

Narcos – Spanish

One of the most popular programmes ever to hit Netflix, Narcos delivers all the intensity and thrill of the best crime dramas, enhanced with the authenticity of its language. Interspersed with original footage, the Netflix Original tells the story of the most successful drug dealer of all time – Pablo Escobar. As it is set in Colombia, the language choice grounds this programme in reality.

Deutschland ’83 – German

Set in East Berlin during the cold war, Channel 4’s German language drama was the highest-rated foreign language drama in UK TV history, racking up a massive 2.5 million viewers. Amidst the political tensions of Cold War, a young East German goes undercover in the est, forcing the audience to view the world of 1983 from a socialist perspective.

Les Revenants – French

This critically acclaimed drama took the concept of zombies in a new, powerful and incredibly stylish direction. The dead of a small French town begin to reappear, apparently unaware of what happened to them. The supernatural is used to examine the natural; grief, mourning, loss and faith. Highly emotive French only enhances the raw emotion of the programme.

Bron-Broen – Swedish/Danish

The Øresund Bridge connects Copenhagen and Malmö, and connects detectives from the two countries to solve a murder committed on the bridge itself. With relatively complex characterisation, this whodunnit is a classic Scandinavian thriller- dark and terrifying, with sophistication laced throughout. The Bridge is a must watch for any fan of Nordic Noir, whether you can understand Swedish or not.

Dekalog – Polish
Although they are perhaps technically short films, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s 10-part series of unrelated tales is highly captivating. Each tale is very loosely linked to one of the 10 commandments, making Dekalog a dark and gripping warning from the Polish director. Taking things to a personal and incredibly detailed level, the stories are all obsessed with the minutiae of real life and the complexity of human existence.

Il Commissario Montalbano – Italian
Based on the detective novels of Andrea Camilleri, this Italian detective series centres round Salvo Montalbano. Salvo is a surly man, responsible and serious at work, but is friendlier with those he trusts. Like many detective series, Il Commissario Montalbano focuses on a weirdly high number of crimes that happen in a small area, and that are miraculously solved by a single detective. A little like a more intense Poirot, this is a compelling watch – and after all, there is nothing quirkier than watching an Italian detective show.

Image: Kevin Hale @ Flickr

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