Just to be clear, by foreign, I mean series that monolingual English speakers would have to watch with subtitles. I know, it doesn’t mean foreign, as all of us are foreign to everybody else, but I had to find a title, didn’t I? So without further ado, here is my selection of the 10 foreign language series you need to discover immediately.
Katla – Icelandic, Swedish, English
Katla broke me during the fall of 2021. I had been binge-watching at least one mini-series a week, as it’s a format I enjoy watching on the weekends. I watched Midnight Mass a few days later, couldn’t really appreciate it (!!!), and had to stop watching anything for a little while to give me time to digest what I just saw.
I cannot start to describe Katla. The closest experience I have is watching the first season of Les Revenants (The Returned). There is something disturbing enough about the dead coming back to us, but what when that new person is created from a memory seeped in guilt and fear, and bears only a passing resemblance to the original? And what if it’s you, a better version of you? Without the trauma that you bear?
What started like a “Scandi noir” drama quickly morphed into Solaris… and then something so dark and so ballsy I couldn’t believe they went there.
Discover the trailer here:
アンダーウェア (Andāwea) (Atelier) – Japanese
I love Atelier! What starts like a quirky comedy ends up examining every aspect of the creative industries and entrepreneurship.
I actually started to take notes while watching, as I couldn’t believe so much was said about customer care, branding, intellectual property, stereotypes (age, gender), event organising…
I would encourage every small business owner to watch Atelier closely. It’s like taking a business course.
Discover the show on Netflix HERE.
Capitani – Luxembourgish, English, French
You know, those grumpy detectives who come to a small place and start running things differently? This is it. Except that Capitani’s story resolves the arcs of multiple characters over the 2 seasons.
The first season mixes the investigation into the death of a young girl, with a mysterious woman from Capitani’s past, as it turns out that he is a tiny bit shadier than expected. His young sidekick Elsa gets a baptism of fire.
Season 2 is set in the seedy underbelly of the big city. This is where characters will overcome their trauma and hopefully move forward.
Discover the series HERE.
Tabula Rasa – Flemish
This got me hooked, also because I found the main actress very personable. You really suffer with her and want to know the truth she has forgotten.
This series deals with amnesia. After a car crash, a young mother loses her memory every single day, living in almost a constant present. And when she struggles to remember what she has forgotten, her imagination fills the gaps.
This is both a tragic family story and a thriller with colourful characters.
Watch the trailer here:
Zone Blanche (Black Spot) – French
Zone Blanche lived in my dreams! I dreamed of the Celtic god Cernunnos for close to a week after I binge-watched the two seasons. I’m waiting for the third one with bated breath.
I don’t want to talk too much about it as I want you to discover it for yourself, but I can say that it’s got a distinct Twin Peaks feel. It’s very quirky and the story is not at all straightforward. I will give you this only spoiler that you will agree on after having watched the two seasons: there’s a reason why Cora is one of the Children of Arduinna.
Watch the series HERE… now!
La Forêt (The Forest) – French
You know, those grumpy detectives who come to a small place and start running things differently?
Wait, didn’t I write this before? Well, this one is not grumpy, and La Forêt is much more than a thriller. It’s a tale of parenthood and the search for one’s identity, of prejudice and horror.
Start to watch it HERE.
Equinox – Danish
Equinox is a captivating tale told through different timelines and in which mythological characters intertwine with the earthly plane. It’s very Danish (the student bus) and seeped into the musical culture of 1985. However, what is captivating here is the amount of tiny little details that tell the overarching story: how the Hare King wants to be with his Ostara, who is accompanied by her blue bird.
Watch the story unfold. Pay really close attention to the mom’s photo album, as there’s something fishy about it. And then decide who is Ostara and who is her blue bird.
Watch the trailer here:
Blot (The Valhalla Murders) – Icelandic
I’m planning to watch this one, as I’m eager to see more of an actor from Katla. All I can say is that it certainly looks like a Scandi noir feature, and that it will give you (and me) the occasion to immerse ourselves deeper into the Icelandic culture.
Here is the trailer:
W głębi lasu (The Woods) – Polish
Do you want to fall in love with Grzegorz Damiecki?
The Woods is an adaptation of a Harlan Coben novel. This is part of a project by Netflix to adapt several HC books and localise them into the culture of different countries.
I really loved this story. It was interesting, but it’s the performance of the lead that really drew me in emotionally.
Without spoiling: you will never guess!
Watch the trailer here:
Folk med ångest (Anxious People) – Swedish
I had never heard of the Swedish bestselling book by Fredrik Backman, but I saw the trailer for that series on Netflix and I thought it was so quirky that I really want to make time to watch it.
After all those dark thrillers, a good comedy would be welcome, wouldn’t it?
I’ll watch it HERE.
Tell me if you liked this list and what you would add, as a foreign language series to discover absolutely.