THE WASHINGTON POST – We can’t travel right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to limit our perspectives to this side of the Atlantic when it comes to the pop culture we consume. Here is a guide to some of the best international TV offerings on Netflix and other streaming platforms.
IF YOU LIKE ROMANTIC DRAMA/COMEDY:
Crash Landing on You (2019)
Sure, the premise of this South Korean drama – about a wealthy South Korean business executive who ends up on the North Korean side of the region’s demilitarized zone after a paragliding outing goes awry – necessitates some suspension of disbelief. But the popular K drama (one of the highest-rated shows to ever air on South Korean cable before its arrival on Netflix) is so charming it’s easy to forget reality’s constraints and binge your way through. And as Washington Post Beijing Bureau Chief Anna Fifield recently noted, the show is rather groundbreaking in its nuanced portrayal of North Koreans.
Leave it to the Brits to make a charming, quirky and romantic (seriously) comedy about a man who is forced to track down all of his sexual partners after he tests positive for chlamydia. The three-season Channel 4 import, which first premiered under a somewhat unfortunate title, is available to stream on Netflix.
IF YOU LIKE REALITY SHOWS:
Terrace House (2012)
This beloved Japanese franchise is the low-and-slow version of reality’s go-to formula (X number of strangers together in an obnoxiously nice house), putting emphasis on vulnerability rather than drama. The result – available, in various iterations, on Netflix – is a singularly intimate window into the lives of the show’s cast members.
The Great British Baking Show (2010)
This decidedly pleasant United Kingdom (UK) competition show, which pits amateur bakers against each other under the watch of a judging panel led (for its first seven seasons) by beloved ‘Queen of Cakes’ Mary Berry, features just about the most gracious reality show participants we’ve ever seen. Stream it on Netflix.
IF YOU LIKE ACTION OR SUSPENSE:
La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) (2017)
Suspense oozes through this Netflix caper series about a carefully curated team of robbers – guided by an enigmatic mastermind – who attempt a stunning heist at Spain’s Royal Mint. The third season has been among the platform’s top offerings since its premiere this month.
Queen Sono (2020)
This South African spy thriller, which marks Netflix’s foray into original content produced in Africa, isn’t for the faint of heart: Its titular secret agent (played by Pearl Thusi) is ruthless as she defeats foes across the African continent. Since its late February premiere, the series has earned praise for its well-paced and empowering plot, along with its charismatic lead.
IF YOU LIKE FAMILY DRAMAS:
This Israeli drama’s simple focus on the everyday lives of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family in Israel is precisely what makes it so absorbing. The series, which came to Netflix years after its original run, has earned a cult following with its thoughtful depiction of community and what it means to be devout.
This series has drawn comparisons to Friends, which is to say it follows a different kind of a family: A close-knit group of modern Orthodox singles trying to find love as they approach their 30s.
The show, available to stream on Amazon Prime, is unique in its exploration of the tension between religious observance and modern society.
IF YOU LIKE TEEN TV:
File this Netflix drama about the competitive and impossibly beautiful students at a Spanish prep school under teen TV that’s not exactly for teens. Each season gets more ridiculous (in the best way) as the pupils of Las Encinas scramble to conceal murder, blackmail and other crimes from a local police interrogator, and each other.
Dance Academy (2010)
We can’t recommend this Australian series enough.
Just prepare to become emotionally invested in the lives of Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin) and her classmates at Sydney’s prestigious (and fictional) National Academy of Dance.
The three-season series (available to stream free on Vudu) is tender and surprisingly profound right up until the end – after which, you’ll be glad to know you can also stream a delightful feature-length movie (on Netflix) that follows Tara as she pursues her ballet career in New York City.