Best foreign TV shows of 2019, including 'Dark', 'Money Heist' and 'Derry Girls'
One of the best parts about living in the digital streaming age is that it is possible now more than ever to stream content from any corner of the world right in your home. And if you are spoilt for choice with the plethora of options available, here is us trying to make that decision easier
May contain spoilers for listed shows
One of the best parts about living in the digital streaming age is that it is possible now more than ever to stream content from any corner of the world right in your home - no territorial boundaries, nothing. And if you are spoilt for choice with the plethora of options available, here is us trying to make that decision a little easier for you.
So, here are the top 10 international shows of 2019:
First impressions of 'Dark' are along the lines of its similarities with Netflix's 'Stranger Things'. When it first came to Netflix in 2017, many people drew similarities with not only 'Stranger Things' but also 'Twin Peaks'.
But it is an unfair comparison, for 'Dark' is not exponentially better than 'Stranger Things' in more ways than one. It has a devious plotline that fuses sci-fi and religion to offer a mind-boggling thriller.
Created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, 'Dark' begins with the mysterious disappearance of a young child which reveals the dark secrets of four families as they slowly get sucked into the sinister time-traveling conspiracy spanning three generations.
'Dark' is a powerful study of human nature and explores brilliantly the possibilities of change that come with time travel. A riveting story and a haunting soundtrack that brews in your head long after you have walked away from the screen, 'Dark' is a time-travel thriller you have never watched before.
Also known as 'La Casa de Papel', the Spanish show is the first foreign show to have appealed to such a large audience. Netflix even branded it as "one of the most-watched Netflix series or film of all time in any language – and the highest non-English speaking show ever".
The clever, sharp writing is the clear winner for the Netflix show! The theme of "heist" or planning a "big robbery" might be old, but the plot has been so intelligently crafted it immediately pulls you in. Gripping, it blends political messages, psychological games and interpersonal conflict into a riveting story.
Based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel, the series gained widespread popularity with its quick-paced season 1. In the series, the gamble between life and death is reduced to a mere squabble when an honest cop meets a fugitive gang boss, whose cryptic warning spurs the officer on a quest to save Mumbai from cataclysm.
The show sees crime and passion go hand in hand, with passion often taking the lead in committing a crime. Even though season 2 didn't rake in as much excitement as season 1, it managed to strike the chord with hard-core fans.
'One Spring Night'
Created by Ahn Pan Suk, Korean drama 'One Spring Night' is perhaps the most heartwarming romantic drama that you could watch. It follows Lee Jeong-in (played by Han Ji-min) and Yu Ji-ho (played by Jung Hae-in) after their serendipitous meeting that sparks a love the both of them had never known before.
Ahn Pan Suk is best-known for his realistic storytelling of emotions and love having previously made a mark with 'Behind the White Tower', 'Secret Affair', and the very popular drama 'Something in the Rain'. 'One Spring Night' makes for wholesome viewing and promises a realistic and self-aware approach to love and companionship.
One of the best international shows, and possibly the best Irish gem to exist on the Netflix library, ‘Derry Girls’ is the story of five teenagers growing up in Ireland during the end of the Troubles in the 1990s. As the title suggests the show revolves around the girls from Ireland’s Derry.
Their male best friend who is the minority in their friend group gets constantly piled on by the others. Eventually, though, he becomes an honorary Derry Girl too, and rightfully so. We also get a glimpse of the influence of the Catholic church on these teens, and their parents, who arguably make for the funniest characters on the show.
Perhaps the best part about 'Jinn' is that the original Arabic series features local Middle Eastern talent. 'Jinn' is a supernatural drama series starring Salma Malhas, Hamzeh Okab, Sultan Alkhail, Aysha Shahaltough, Zaid Zoubi, Yasser Al Hadi, Mohammad Nizar, Mohammad Hindieh and Karam Tabbaa, and follows the characters on their field trip to Petra - home to ancient demons and supernatural phenomena.
The story focuses on them accidentally summoning a jinn who threatens to destroy the world and their quest to stop him before it gets out of hand. 'Jinn', however, was caught in a controversy with its own people owing to some scenes that apparently featured moral degradation of a character.
Watch 'Jinn' for its unique treatment of supernatural and horror elements combined with its gripping storyline and complex characters acted out by a talented cast. All your predispositions about the show will be shattered.
'Criminal' is dense, smart and redefines the term "investigation". As far as geography is concerned, it is a 12-episode anthology series split across four countries, UK, France, Germany and Spain.
The show is a marvel of acrobatic camerawork and clever transitions and doubles up as a riveting and compelling piece of foreign content. Every episode under France, Germany and Spain is a spare, precision-engineered hour without a wasted shot or beat. As far as procedurals go, this one deserves the watch.
'Delhi Crime' started making the news the minute the trailer featured on Netflix. The main question on peoples' minds was "why now? Why after these many years?" But the Indian crime drama, which is based on the brutal, vile 2012 Delhi gang rape, puts all the doubts in place.
Grim and gritty, 'Delhi Crime' is not just a true-crime story about a rape, it is a story that brings to fore the issues women face in India [the show is in English and Hindi]. A gut-wrenching, unsettling and disturbing watch, it mirrors a reality that could be difficult to fully perceive/envision but one that would leave you devastated.
The Spanish drama web series follows the students of an elite secondary school and might seem like a lot of teen melodrama, but it makes for a really palatable watch. Nursing a murder mystery at the heart of it, 'Elite' does feature a strong plotline that is highly gripping. It is a must-watch if you are someone who likes watching rich people deal with rich people problems in a creative manner.
Mexican Spanish-language crime series 'Tijuana' follows journalists in Tijuana, Mexico - the worst place in the world to be a journalist - investigating Eugenio Robles's (Roberto Mateos) death and how it connects to Greorgio Mueller (Rodrigo Abed). It is a fresh breath of air compared to procedurals we are used to watching, making for a lot more than passive viewing. At first, it might seem like a political drama, but through its fictional story, it is a look inside the dangerous play of power, politics, crime and money.