Non-English Shows On Netflix To Binge (Updated)

Dept. of Restricted Movementertainment


So your movement has been restricted, you’re stuck working from home, and you’re looking for something to fill those in between hours when you’re procrastinating. Bahir Yeusuff has you covered. Here’s a list of non-English shows that are worth your time!

(This list was updated on the 23rd of March, 2020.)

Resurrection: Ertuğrul (5 seasons, 150 episodes total)

Resurrection: Ertuğrul is the longest running series on this list. 5 seasons, and 150 episodes, this series is a Turkish historical epic, that tells the story of Ertuğrul, the leader of a tribe of Turks following the Mongol invasions of Europe and Asia. Ertuğrul makes for an interesting watch as a Muslim, as many of the religion’s values are incorporated liberally throughout the series. Just as the Christian faith plays a part in movies and TV shows about war in the 20th century, reversing those sentiments into the Muslim faith makes this a refreshing watch. If you’re big into history and are looking for a new drug post Game of Thrones (sans the fantasy element) then give this a go. At 150 episodes, you might get a new fix. But be forewarned, there is a fatwa out on this (but it seems to be more political than anything religious based).

Giri/Haji (1 season, 8 episodes)

Although a British production, Giri/Haji is technically a Japanese story, about a detective from Tokyo who travels to London to track down his Yakuza-adjacent brother, who he thought was dead. There is nothing really new about this slow burn detective fish out of water story, but the set up and characters are so well written that it is very bingey. Giri/Haji also has some beautiful vignettes, featuring both backstory and flashback, shot in different, wonderfully Japanese art house styles. The relationship between the stoic detective Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira) and his flamboyant half-Japanese, half-British, sex worker “sidekick” Rodney (Will Sharpe) is a particularly well written one. There is none of the expected disdain for Rodney’s chosen profession, but rather a Japanese respect for the man behind the career. Giri/Haji also starts Kelly Macdonald as a detective constable with the London Metropolitan Police.

Criminal (France, Germany, Spain, UK, 12 episodes total)

Criminal is a Netflix anthology series set in four different European countries, with three episodes in each country. The premise is simple. Each episode is a stand alone story set in a police interrogation room. Each episode feels like a stage play, with it’s own three act structure, all of it almost entirely playing out in the room. There are no excursions to the crime scene. No visits down to the morgue or the detective’s home. It is entirely focused on the story as it breaks in that room that you are dropped into, with no introduction or background on the perpetrator, detective, or lawyers. That you never ever notice it, is just a sign of the great writing. I don’t need to know that the detective takes her coffee black or if he drives a fancy car. What’s important is in that room and what happens in it. And it makes for some of the most riveting television.

Suburra: Blood On Rome (2 seasons, 18 episodes total)

Suburra was Netflix’s first Italian language original series which debuted in 2017. An Italian crime drama set in Rome, the series is filled with characters from across the Roman hierarchy, from the church, organised crime, politics, and the Gypsy community. Drawing inspiration from a real life Mafia crime investigation, Suburra showcases the power clashes and machinations of Italian politics in all its dirty glory. This is a definite watch if you’re a fan of political intrigue shows like House of Cards.

A Very Secret Service (2 seasons, 24 episodes total)

If you’re looking for a dark satirical comedy set in 1960’s France about a French intelligence agency then look no further because A Very Secret Service is exactly that. This series tells the story of Andre Merlaux, a spy in training with the French Secret Service as he and his colleagues go about their work day (only until 5pm; after that, it’s cocktails, and music, and dancing at the office) trying to do spy and intelligence things like discouraging French colonies from gaining independence (bad for business), and making sure all the travel forms are stamped correctly. This isn’t a serious spy show. Serious spy shows don’t have the finance department taking field agents to task for not having proper receipts for their mission expenses. Serious spy shows don’t have senior agents making fun of the trainee because he has a bad suit. But this spy show does. And its ridiculousness is so much fun.

Narcos (3 seasons, 30 episodes total)

Narcos (South American) Foreign Series List

The original series, Narcos tells the true story of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the American DEA agents that are trying to shut him down. A real revelation when it came out, Narcos introduced the world to the enigmatic Wagner Moura as Escobar, and brought us more Pedro Pascal after he was unjustly murdered in Game of Thrones. You’ll be speaking (well, mostly swearing) in Spanish in no time m’ijo. There is a lot of depictions of drug use (obviously!), violence, and nudity so keep that in mind when you’re watching this on the big screen at home.

Narcos: Mexico (2 seasons, 20 episodes total)

Narcos: Mexico (South American) Foreign Series List

The follow up to Narcos, Narcos: Mexico introduces the audience to a new patrón, Félix Gallardo, because, spoiler alert, Pablo Escobar dies. The series follows Gallardo, played by the criminally (heh) underrated Diego Luna, as he looks to “unionise” the different drug traffickers in Mexico to support the Colombian drug trade travelling to the USA. Season 1 features Michael Pena as real life DEA agent Kiki Camarena. Season 2 features Scoot Mcnairy, who was last seen in season 3 of True Detective in 2019. Also, a lot of violence and some nudity.

Money Heist (3 seasons, 25 episodes)

Money Heist (Spanish) Foreign Series List

Another Spanish language series, Money Heist tells the story of a heist on the Royal Mint of Spain in Madrid. Money Heist is a very well written ensemble piece; tense, well-paced, full of well rounded characters who aren’t prone to dumb stupid mistakes. It is thoroughly well thought out. The heist itself isn’t annoyingly simple or obvious; its twists and turns are meticulous and planned. Think Leverage or Inside Man. But in Spanish. Season 4 is out April 1st, so now’s the best time to get in on this. This is one of my favourite things on Netflix right now.

Most Beautiful Thing (1 season, 7 episodes)

Most Beautiful Thing (Brazilian) Foreign Series List

Warning: This show will make you want to start your own bossa nova club. Most Beautiful Thing is a Brazilian series that tells the story of Malu, a young housewife from a wealthy São Paulo family who moves to Rio de Janeiro to surprise her husband, only to find that he has disappeared. The series is set in beautiful Rio, permeating with beautiful samba and bossa music, glorious pastel colours, and gorgeous men and women. The series focuses on Malu and her 3 friends as they fight against sexism, prejudice, and class in 1950s Brazil. Watch this. Watch this right now.

Dark (2 seasons, 18 episodes)

Dark (German) Foreign Series List

Dark is a slight change of pace from the other titles on this list so far. This series tells the story of a small town in Germany following a child’s disappearance and the strange happenings that follow it. The setting is gloomy and is a great watch if you like slow burn style shows. Think Stranger Things, but for adults.

Queen Sono (1 season, 6 episodes)

Queen Sono (South African)

If there ever was an argument for a female James Bond, Queen Sono is making it. Queen Sono is Netflix’s first African original series and follows Queen Sono, a South African clandestine secret agent trying to take down a corrupt business and an opposing rebel group that threatens to tear the region apart. Queen Sono, played by Pearl Thusi, kicks butt from the opening minute of the show. She’s also dressed to the nines I might add. Now there’s another argument for a female Bond; just think of all the costumes. There is only so many times you can watch a good looking white man in a tux.

Kingdom (2 seasons, 12 episodes)

Kingdom (South Korea) Season 1

We all know about Kingdom by now; a period South Korean tv series, but with zombies. The series changes the rules of cinema zombies a little, which makes it a refreshing watch. Not much else to say really. Watch it if you like Koreans. Watch it if you like zombies.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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