If you’ve read my 5 Easy Ways to Learn a Language at Home post, you’ll know I highly recommend Netflix as a way to consume new languages.
Netflix (other streaming services are available) is one of the best things to happen to language learners around the world. It has provided a huge platform that has allowed foreign language film and TV to be thrust into the limelight. Suddenly, all of this fantastic cinema most of us didn’t know existed is being given a voice and honestly, it’s wonderful and eye-opening to see.
There’s some truly wonderful series out there at the moment. I’ve handpicked my top 5 so far – these are obviously all German series because that’s the language I’m trying to learn. However, I highly recommend these to anyone because they are all top-quality viewing, no matter what language you speak.
Also, subtitles exist, so you’ve got no excuses.
BTW: the obvious series to include here is Dark. But honestly, it’s been so successful (and rightly so, I’m not denying that it is a superb show) that I’m pretty sure you’ve all heard of it by now.
1. How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)
Hilarious. I binged both available series so fast, and honestly I think the second season is funnier. Briefly put, a nerdy teenage boy is pissed that his girlfriend dumped him so he starts selling drugs online. Chaos quickly ensues. I would also say that, especially because it is based on Gen Z, there’s a lot of Denglish in it which makes it easier to understand as non-German speaker.
2. Dogs of Berlin
If you love a dirty gritty cop drama, you’ll love this. It dives into the German underworld of corrupt cops, Turkish clans and neo-Nazi’s. Utterly fantastic acting and superb production quality. I just really, really loved this series. I think it’s my favourite of the five I’ve listed here.
3. Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (Generation War)
A three-part miniseries, about five friends who part ways in the summer of 1941 with the promise to meet again when the war is over at Christmas. Incredibly well crafted and very intense, a great look at Germany and Germans during that period. One we don’t get to see projected onto screen in this kind of way very often. However, I will state that it received a lot of criticism upon release, particularly due to its portrayal of the Polish Resistance as anti-semites and it’s sort of “airbrushing” of Nazi-era Germany. I think it’s definitely worth a watch though.
The first season was released this year and did so well it was immediately renewed for a season 2. Dubbed a techno-thriller, the series sees Mia enter a top medical university under the pretence of investigating her brother’s death. We dive into the world of illegal genetic experimentation, but because it’s mostly a drama/thriller, it’s not too scienc-ey (that’s totally a word, don’t @ me). A pretty easy watch that focuses a lot on visuals so lack of German is not an issue.
A brand new Netflix original for 2020, I am only 2 episodes in to this series, but wow! It’s so good! Based on the true story of the battle of Teuteoburg Forest in 9 A.D., this is a German historical drama that gives a look into the struggles between Germania and the Roman Empire. I don’t know anything about this period in history so I can’t tell you if it’s totally accurate, but the acting, design and cinematography are all utterly fantastic so far! You also get two languages for the price of one here – I originally thought the second language was Italian but upon further research, it turns out it’s Latin?! So, if that’s on your list of languages to learn you’re really in for a treat.
Once again, I would stress that even if you don’t speak German, these series are all truly fantastic to watch! Because, this is 2020, relatively accurate subtitles exist and if you are really desperate, most of the shows on Netflix have overdubs into English/whatever your language is.
However, I would urge against this because it really takes away from the depth that the original actor brings to a character. Also, because it’s lazy.
bis zum nächsten Mal / until next time,