Netflix Top 10: From 'The Protector', and 'Sacred Games' to 'Money Heist', the top non-English shows on Netflix
While some dwell on murder, gambling, and dystopia, others bring out historical tales of families, relationships and generational ties
Netflix is expanding its line of shows beyond the borders of the English language and is bringing in a plethora of Foreign language shows. Netflix International Originals VP Erik Barmack had revealed the streaming giant's ambitious step ahead to globalize television by bringing in shows from across Italy, Germany, Mexico, India, Spain, and the Middle East.
Barmack had told IndieWire the actual plan is to launch at least 100 non-English shows on the platform. "A hundred isn’t really a particularly magic number. It would give us a pretty robust slate in Latin America, Europe and then starting a slate in India, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia." Although American and English shows still dominate the channel, here are the top 10 foreign gems that should be on your must-watch list this year.
1. The Protector
What happens when you are chosen to decide what is wrong and what is right with a city? You have no choice but to become 'The Protector'. This Turkish drama is almost halfway 'Death Note', as the protagonist Hakan, a young shopkeeper, discovers his ties to an ancient order that is tasked with protecting Istanbul from an immortal enemy. Starring Çagatay Ulusoy, Ayça Aysin Turan, and Hazar Ergüçlü, the show brings in a rather enthralling tale of an ordinary Middle-Eastern man, who soon discovers himself in the realms of what we know as superheroes.
If you think 'Hunger Games' was the scary reality of our world, wait till you find out what happens in this Brazilian dystopian thriller, created by Pedro Aguilera. A lot like 'Hunger Games' in this show, only 3% get to leave behind their lives as slum-dwellers and join the elite in the world of glamour and pomp. Starring João Miguel, Bianca Comparato, Michel Gomes, and Rodolfo Valente, this dystopian thriller is set in an unspecified future when 20-year-old individuals of the impoverished "Inland" have the single opportunity to complete "The Process" and advance to the affluence of the distant "Offshore" society.
3. Sacred Games
In one of the world's most dangerous cities of India, Mumbai, 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. Starring Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddique, and Radhika Apte, 'Sacred Games' is everything that has gone wrong with the film capital of India. Created by Vikramaditya Motwane, the show sees crime and passion go hand in hand, with passion often taking the lead in committing a crime.
We all remember the story of a man with an extraordinarily acute sense of smell which takes a dark turn when his quest to create the ultimate fragrance leads to murder. Reflecting on the same theme as 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' (2006), this German show brings some new twists in the story. Other than setting up in the 19th CE, it looks into the contemporary era where a group of detectives begins to investigate the murder of a renowned singer. It is soon discovered that there is a whole gang operating behind a series of murders that all happen in the exact same manner. Based on the 1985 Patrick Süskind novel 'Perfume', the six-part season features August Diehl, Ken Duken, Friederike Becht, Susanne Wuest, Marc Hosemann, Natalia Belitski, Trystan Pütter, and Wotan Wilke Möhring.
Pick up the White Walkers and place them in the countryside of an ancient South Korea, and you have the biggest zombie apocalypse of the year. Set to air on Netflix on January 25, this Kim Seong-hun-directed series follows a kingdom defeated by corruption and famine where a mysterious rumor of the king’s death spreads, as does a strange plague that renders the infected immune to death and hungry for flesh. The crown prince, fallen victim to a conspiracy, sets out on a journey to unveil the evil scheme and save his people. Starring Ju Ji-Hoon, Ryu Seung-Ryong, Kim Sangho, Heo Joon-Ho, and Jeon Seok-Ho, the show comes from renowned writer Kim Eun-hee.
Known to be one of the best shows in the history of Israeli television, 'Shtisel', is the story of a multigenerational family trying to get through their everyday lives while dealing with some universal problems such as love, relationships, and family. The show follows the shy and introspective Akiva, the youngest son of the Shrtisel family who lives in Jerusalem with his father, Shulem, a rabbi at the local yeshiva in Jerusalem where Akiva takes a substitute teaching job. This highly sophisticated and introspective drama finds the father and the son in a dispute as they try and adjust to the moral dilemmas of each other's generations.
If you've already not started watching this show, then maybe it's time you do because this is exactly the year when it is all happening. The synopsis of the show reads, "In 2019, a local boy's disappearance stokes fear in the residents of Winden, a small German town with a strange and tragic history. It is a family saga with a supernatural twist where the disappearance of two young children exposes the relationships among four families." Starring Oliver Masucci, Karoline Eichhorn, and Jördis Triebel, the show is a bonus with its mythological implications and subtle play of time as it shuffles between the years 1953, 1986 and 2019.
8. Cable Girls
As Netflix’s very first original Spanish series, 'Las Chicas del Cable' (a.k.a. 'Cable Girls') follows the lives of four women working as switchboard operators at a telephone company in Madrid in the late 1920s. Starring Blanca Suárez, Nadia de Santiago, Maggie Civantos, and Ana Fernández, the show depicts the relationship between women as something that is both charming and destroying at the same time. Other than sending out a timeless message of women empowerment, the show also brings the many trends of the '20s such as flapper and shift dresses, cropped hairstyles, and cloche hats.
Netflix is all set to bring back the second season of its perhaps most celebrated Italian show, on February 22. And it is about time that you tune into this Daniele Cesarano and Barbara Petronio-developed drama which serves as a prequel to the 2015 film, in turn, inspired by the novel of the same name by Giancarlo De Cataldo and Carlo Bonini. Starring Alessandro Borghi, Giacomo Ferrara, Eduardo Valdarnini, and Francesco Acquaroli, the show (based on real events) is focused on power clashes and corruption in Rome and the Vatican City, among organized crime, politicians and churchmen.
10. Money Heist
One of the best things about a heist drama is that you get to venture into the mind palace of a criminal, and it is all the more rushing if the criminal is someone as shady as "The Professor". Created by Álex Pina, and starring Úrsula Corberó, Itziar Ituño, Álvaro Morte, and Paco Tous, the show follows a man — who calls himself "The Professor" — leading a group of specially-abled individuals who have nothing to lose. However, the goal to rob the Royal Mint of Spain in Madrid soon becomes more than just a deal when the group is intervened during their 11 days of seclusion by the police.