‘Squid Game’ and the 10 Best International Shows on Netflix Right Now
Amid heartbreaking dramas and puzzle box gems, the platform offers plenty of global TV offerings covering a wide variety of interests.
Slowly but surely, the global television market is changing. Whether it’s primarily due to the rise of streaming platforms, the rush of international imports caused by a shortage of pandemic production, or audiences finally enjoying a wealth of options, series in languages other than English are booming.
While some shows have certainly helped spur this influx of new fans (including those who can be found below), the nature of the modern television world is that there are still very few shows that become fans. phenomena not to be missed. Netflix recently changed its weekly Top 10 report to include viewing totals in both English and non-English categories, where (providing these figures are accurate and transparent) the top placements in the latter frequently exceed the former.
So, in an effort to help narrow down the wealth of international options available to Netflix subscribers, we’ve put together a list highlighting some of the most fruitful places to start. It’s far from an exhaustive list, and it’s a list we’ll be adding to regularly over the coming months. For now, here’s an introductory collection of some of the best recent TV offerings on Netflix from around the world.
“Alice at the Borders”
Haro Aso, Shogakukan/Robot
Part of an effective new wave of puzzle-based dystopias, this Japanese drama finds a group of friends unwittingly transported to a Tokyo that has turned into a game-based fight for survival. In order to avoid the threat of execution (the nighttime outings of people with the scorecard up are frightening), they must join the crowd of other interdimensional survivors to participate in tasks ranging from teamwork tests to the winner. demonstrations of deduction and/or strength. Director Shinsuke Sato and fellow co-writers Yoshiki Watabe and Yasuko Kuramitsu, adapting the series from the original manga, manage to keep both the audience and the series’ characters at a safe distance from the truth in a way that doesn’t isn’t just motivated by keeping a show going. This continues until the closing moments of the opening season, which prove that there are many more discoveries to be made, wherever the people at its center manage to find themselves.
(Read more about “Alice in Borderland” here.)
A handful of people see their lives intersect with the decadence and foreboding of Weimar Germany in this sprawling historical drama. From its exhilarating musical sequences to its grounded detective story, this is a series that takes into account the seismic shifts on the horizon without losing sight of the more immediate issues for anyone caught in this web of the late 1920s. early 1930s. The attention to detail here in costuming and professional process ensures it works in both outline and detail. If you’re on the fence, take a few minutes and revel in one of the real transcendent tv moments of the last decade.
Balancing the practical realities of national government with a TV lean toward juicy behind-the-scenes scandal is a task not all political shows are capable of. Yet this Danish drama, which follows the roller-coaster fortunes of a new Prime Minister (Sidse Babett Knudsen), handles these competing draws and synthesizes them with ease. A dozen years after its debut, this show still feels like a savvy look at the ever-delicate intersection between public opinion and policy-making. Treating its characters not just as ideological stand-ins, but as people whose personal decisions end up having vast ramifications, “Borgen” is a drama that gives a comprehensive view of an institution without ignoring the potential cost to those who serve it. operate. .
A mysterious cave in the middle of a German town becomes the center of a sprawling, multi-generational sci-fi epic that has managed to never crumble under the weight of its own ambition. What could have easily remained an elusive mystery about a vanishing child has turned into a thoughtful, dense look at how trauma plays out across generations. Series creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese (whose upcoming “1899” appears to be just as expansive in scope) have taken a drama with a gnarly family tree to its cosmic limits, with the help of an ever-present cast. crescent which helped everything stick together. It’s the kind of show that demands your attention and rewards you in kind.
(Learn more about Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3 ending thoughts.)
This Turkish drama presents a kaleidoscopic view of Istanbul from the perspective of different seemingly unrelated people who live there – a housekeeper, an actress and a psychiatrist, among others, each with different views on faith , relationships and family. As the series progresses and shows how these people’s lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, “Ethos” tries to unpack what (if anything) they owe each other as strangers, neighbors and other human beings. Writer/director Berkun Oya brings a patient and confident approach to this story, with a pacing dictated not by the demands of television but by a more transparent conversational style. From sweeping shots of the city to unpredictable end credits sequences, this is a show that follows its own instincts.
“Everything will be alright”
Diego Luna directs this eight-part series about a family in ruins trying to stay afloat. As estranged married couple Julia (Lucía Uribe) and Ruy (Flavio Medina) decide how they want to handle the responsibilities of raising their young daughter, each of them juggles the expectations they face outside of their homes. . With more outside individuals caught up in this festering argument, “Everything Will Be Fine” gives Uribe and Medina moments of dark comedy to complement a thoughtful acting showcase. Julia and Ruy each have points where they convince each other that the show’s title is true. Overall, “Everything Will Be Fine” offers a thoughtful reminder of how and why everyone can be wrong.
(Read more about “Everything Will Be Alright” here.)
So many of the most memorable recent series, regardless of language or country of origin, revolve around characters facing the inexplicable. Here, it comes in the form of giant smoky demons that arrive through a mysterious portal, single out an individual, and crush their target in damnation. Not only does director Yeon Sang-ho execute these shows in broad daylight with shocking simplicity, but the show thrives on examining how a modern society responds to such a profound breakdown in the social fabric. Swindlers, prophets, survivors and nihilists all have their place in this fictional world, which still draws in a very real and recognizable way that unfathomable tragedy is manipulated into attempts at gain.
(Read more about “Hellbound” here.)
“Love and Anarchy”
For those who like their TV novels with a razor-sharp edge, here’s this Swedish comedy born out of office flirtation. When a new publishing executive (Ida Engvoll) and acting IT guy (Björn Mosten) start a codependent blackmail game, their back-and-forth becomes a high-stakes emotional gamble. It’s a show that would work on its own as a workplace comedy, a charming and prickly love story, or a wedding drama. That it manages to blend them all seamlessly and bring a different sense of control over how this kind of story usually plays out is an impressive achievement. Season 2 is on the way and can’t come soon enough.
(Read more about “Love & Anarchy” here.)
A perfect storm of ambition and execution. It arrived in 2021 as a sensation, but its resilience will be as a high-level standard-bearer for an ever-growing subset of TV stories: one where overwhelming social and financial realities keep whole swaths of people locked in a cycle that is not meant to be escaped. All credit goes to a cast that takes characters literally stripped of their identities and makes them feel like they still have an entire life behind them. These stories playing out against a tapestry of pastel-colored children’s play nightmares are another key element to ensuring it wasn’t just the frenzy of the day. It’s simple dystopian torture rendered operationally, while trying to give these individuals the humanity that their predatory captors seem to want to take away from them.
(Read more about “Squid Game” here.)
Another show that has also helped Netflix see its international series as more than just library content, it’s a portrayal of a young woman’s quest to balance her upbringing with her life-changing desires. Shira Haas has deservedly won wide acclaim for her starring role as Esther, a young woman who leaves her home in Brooklyn and leaps into the depths of an entirely different chapter in Berlin. “Unorthodox” is also a great calling card for Maria Schrader, who in addition to her on-camera work (“Deutschland 83” would definitely be on the Hulu version of this list) has become an exciting emerging director in her own right.
(Read more about “Unorthodox” here.)