Top Ten Foreign-Language Series

The Top Ten Foreign-Language Series

With Hollywood crippled by both the writers and actors strikes, sooner or later the stream of new output is going to dry up. While Hollywood sorts itself out, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere in the world for your entertainment source. From Europe to Asia, there’s no shortage of great stories being told today. These series are smart, heartfelt, and brimming with cultural richness, a change of pace from typical English-language offerings. All you need to do is turn on the subtitles and enter a whole new world of wonderful storytelling. 

Recommended by Jennifer AJ 

 Call My Agent! (French)

Call My Agent

French comedy about the inner workings of an actors agency in Paris. 

 On the heels of their founder’s death, the agents at ASK must scramble to keep their agency afloat and their A-list clients – played by the who’s who of French cinema – satisfied. Tongue-in-cheek and star-studded, this series has spawned multiple adaptations everywhere from England to Indonesia. 

Read the full review

 Kingdom (Korean)

Kingdom

This South Korean zombie thriller takes place during the Joseon dynasty, the longest-running ancient dynasty to ever rule Korea. In it, a Joseon Crown Prince investigates the cause of a mysterious outbreak that turns infected victims into flesh-eating zombies, the King included. He must race against time to find the cure before the scheming Queen Consort uses it to turn against him. 

Dark (German)

Dark - TV series

 In this mind-bending science fiction drama from Germany, two small-town children go missing and the search for them reveals the existence of a portal through time. Soon, the fate of the whole town is sucked into the vortex of mystery from its troubled history. Cerebral and gripping, the acclaimed drama offers an intricate web of intrigue that never gives an easy answer. 

Crash Landing on You (Korean)

Crash Landing on You

 The global appeal of South Korean series, affectionately termed K-Drama, keeps getting bigger every year. The biggest proponents, besides Squid Game, are its large swath of romantic comedies. For true novices, Crash Landing on You is the perfect entry-level drama. It’s got everything – peppy visuals, rich cultural immersiveness, ooey-gooey romance and a wild premise: a South Korean heiress crash-lands in North Korea after a paragliding accident. She’s rescued by a gruffly charming local soldier and the two fall in love despite the impossibility of their romance (the two Koreas are technically still at war since the 1950s). 

Narcos (Spanish – but not exclusively)

Narcos

 A gritty drug trafficking drama about the travails of real-life notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Searing and brimming with a sense of danger, the series features terrific performances from a veritable who’s who of Latino actors: Wagner Moura, Diego Luna, and pre-The Mandalorian Pedro Pascal. 

Read the full review

Alice in Borderland (Japanese)

Alice in Borderland

A Squid Game-style action thriller about a survivalist game show from hell. 

Adapted from a Japanese manga of the same name, the series follows a couple of teenagers who find themselves in an emptied-out Tokyo out of the blue. To escape, they must complete a series of challenges with deadly consequences. 

Farzi (Indian)

Farzi - TV series

A gripping Indian crime drama about the world of forgery. 

Tired of being poor, a down-on-his-luck artist turns to counterfeiting money for some quick bucks. Soon, his venture lands him in hot water with both the mafia and the police.

Into the Night (French, Polish, Turkish, etc)

Into the Night

A nail-biting apocalyptic drama about a group of plane passengers discovering that everything the sun touches starts dying. To survive, they must keep flying to avoid daylight until they can find a safe location to hide. Featuring an international cast of characters, the sense of global threat shines through, unified by a common goal for survival. 

Drops of God (Japanese, French)

Drops of God

An intoxicating manga adaptation set in the aromatic world of winery. 

When a world-renowned oenologist dies, his estranged daughter and protege must engage in a wine-tasting competition to claim his vast inheritance, the largest private wine collection in the world. 

Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Korean)

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

An autistic attorney saves the day and wins hearts in this K-Drama, the biggest non-English language Netflix series last year. Charmingly inspiring, the legal dramedy depicts the boundless aspiration of a savant lawyer who doggedly pursues justice despite the discrimination she faces. 

Read the full review

Published on August 30th, 2023. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.

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