The pandemic and the incessant lockdowns that have come along with it have meant that streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have become absolute infallible saviours of boredom for those of us cooped up in the house most of the week. One of the amazing elements of streaming services is the ability they give you to cross borders with their collection of outstanding foreign-language television series, which, years ago, would have been especially difficult to access.
Nowadays, gems from all around the world are available with the click of a button, so whether it’s Danish political scandals or strong female leads in 1950s Rio de Janeiro, read on to discover more about 6 of the best foreign-language TV series out right now.
El Presidente is a window into the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal and the involvement of virtually unknown Chilean football club president Sergio Jadue. Despite the premise of the show, El Presidente is not a sports drama. Instead, it offers a political commentary on the business behind football, rather than the sport itself. Released on Amazon Prime Video in 2020, the story is told over eight episodes. Its political critiques and observations on hierarchies of power in these sporting institutions make it a must-watch as the scandal unfolds with each episode.
Borgen has been the subject of immense critical acclaim worldwide, particularly in the UK and US, since its release. This Danish political drama follows the fictional Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and her journey to becoming the first female Prime Minister of Denmark, documenting the highs and lows of her political struggles throughout. Borgen comes highly recommended for those interested in political dramas such as The West Wing, and all three seasons are available to stream on Netflix now, with a fourth season set to premiere in 2022.
This spellbinding crime drama series focuses on attempts by police in a remote Icelandic town to solve the murder of a former townsman as the cold weather and blizzards creep in, with elements of classic Nordic noir throughout. Trapped is undoubtedly a slow-burn type of series, with a sense of urgency and eeriness present throughout, setting it apart from other mystery dramas of its kind. Trapped’s two seasons are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
K-Dramas have been taking South Korean television by storm, especially in recent years with their explosion in international popularity. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is the latest K-drama fans are loving at the moment, even being named as one of the best shows of 2020 by The New York Times. This romantic drama follows the developing relationship between caregiver Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) and famously antisocial writer Ko Moon-young (Seo Yea-ji), and features a refreshingly raw account of themes of mental illness and depression. All sixteen episodes of season one are currently available to stream on Netflix, but as of yet there’s been no confirmation whether a second season is on the cards.
Often dubbed as the French version of hit American series House of Cards, Baron Noir is another political drama that has received widespread critical acclaim. The series follows the conflict between two former friends in the political landscape, and showcases the ins and outs of the political spectrum, mirroring real-life politics in France. Baron Noir’s first three seasons are available to watch on Amazon Prime Video now.
Girls from Ipanema
Coisa Mais Linda
This stunning Brazilian period drama (originally called Most Beautiful Thing) set against the bossa nova backdrop of 1950s Rio de Janeiro, follows Malu (Maria Casadevall), a young and wealthy woman from São Paulo, as she finds her feet in the city after being abandoned by her husband. Deciding to stay and set up her own bossa nova club, and helped on her journey of independence by three friends, Girls from Ipanema highlights the beauty that can come from heartache, and the female leads, with their undeniable strength and determination, are a force to be reckoned with. The first two seasons of the series are available to stream on Netflix now.