Netflix has come out with many originals over the years and some of their most popular work have been foreign television shows. According to Time magazine, Spanish Netflix originals Money Heist and Elite were listed as some of the most watched shows on the platform as of 2020, with Money Heist having 44 million views and Elite having 20 million.
With these shows gaining traction, here are more foreign Netflix originals to binge watch that explore similar themes of drama, mystery and thrill, while also providing a taste of culture from another part of the world.
The Mess You Leave Behind (2020)
“The Mess You Leave Behind” translates to El Desorden que Dejas. It is a Spanish suspenseful limited T.V. series about a woman, Raquel, who starts a new job as a high school teacher in the fictitious town of Novartis. However, she is faced with uncovering the town’s mysterious tragedy of the teacher she has replaced.
I originally watched this show just so I could see Elite’s heartthrob Arón Piper, but, once I started, I was sucked into the plot. This thriller drama has so many twists and turns and each of the eight episodes reveal clues as to what happened to the teacher Raquel replaced. There is symbolism that proves how every little detail throughout is important to revealing the mystery. The plot is unpredictable, in-depth and well thought out.
The performances are superb, as well. The acting is authentic, real and the actors make the audience feel as if they are in the show uncovering the mystery with Raquel. Overall, I highly recommend “The Mess You Leave Behind” if you are looking for a Spanish drama that keeps your heart rate up.
“Baby” is an Italian drama about the scandalous lives of teenagers who attend an exclusive high school in Rome. The show focuses on the characters and their secrets. More specifically it follows the secret life of Chiara, who seems like an ordinary school girl, but actually lives a double life with her new friend, Ludo, in a prostitution ring.
The show has caused some controversy since it is based on the true story of the ‘Baby Squillo’ scandal in 2014. However, the show itself just recently came out with its third season in 2020.
I have rewatched the series multiple times because of its engaging characters and their storylines. Their troubled lives create a suspenseful plot that allows the viewer to connect and live with the characters. I found this teenage drama to be very unique and nothing like any American show I have watched. It is the perfect example of a foreign television show not being afraid to put it out there with it’s dark, authentic and amazingly captivating storyline.
Cable Girls (2017)
This Spanish show revolves around four working women in 1920’s Madrid. Spain just opened its first national telephone company and “Cable Girls” centers around the revolution of women in the workplace. What is great about this series, is that it shows the progress made towards gender equality. However, the show is more than just about breaking gender barriers – it also engages the viewers in the lives of these four “cable girls” and how they navigate friendship, romance and the workplace.
I had the show on my Netflix watch list for a while because I absolutely love 1920’s period pieces and I was not disappointed. The 1920’s fashion and culture was perfectly replicated in the show. I enjoyed watching the different looks and feeling like I was being transported into another time.
While the period piece was exceptionally executed, so were the storylines. These four women all come from different backgrounds and, throughout the show, the audience gets to grow with their characters. “Cable Girls” show the independence and strength that comes with womanhood. The series just ended in 2020 with its fifth season, so it is completely bingeable, without having to wait for what happens next.
This French crime T.V. drama is about a thief, Assane Diop, who plots revenge on a wealthy family for an injustice against his father. He is inspired by the famous French collection of stories “Adventures of Arsene Lupin,” which introduces many anglophone audiences to this popular gentleman thief from French fiction. Besides the influence of the novel, the storyline and action make the show an amazing thriller.
Diop shows great badass-ery and his story, along with the action, make the show very engaging. If you love a good action scene, this show is perfect for you. The representation of Paris was also well done, as it captivates viewers in the sophisticated Parisian culture.
The blend of plot, action and French influence make “Lupin” a classy crime story you must watch. I was very invested in this show and was excited that part two was announced to come out soon.
This is a British show about a detective from Tokyo who was sent to London to look for his mob assassin brother he thought was dead. The presumed dead brother was accused of killing a yakuzu member, which could potentially lead to a gang war. His journey to find his brother alive is a thrilling mystery that deserves more attention.
While this is a British show, there are many scenes set in Tokyo and Japanese is spoken throughout the series. I thought the scenes between Tokyo and London created a great balance and perspective of the two cultures.
I also found the cinematography to be beautiful and crucial in the story telling. For example, the scenes that show the detective and his brother are narrowly framed on the screen to signify that it was in a different past time frame. These specific details and elements make the plot well thought out and engrossing.