8 international Netflix shows you should be watching right now

Go outside the US to find your next favorite TV to stream
By Avital Norman Nathman  Published on 08/21/2018 at 11:23 AM EST
Michaela Coel from 'Chewing Gum'; Paul Sun-Hyung Lee from 'Kim's Convenience'; Vaneza Oliveira from '3%' Mark Johnson/Netflix; CBC; Pedro Saad/Netflix

There’s nothing quite like a good Netflix binge. If you like comedy with a strong female lead, than Kimmy Schmidt is for you. Prefer solid action adventure? Marvel and Netflix have partnered to make some exciting TV, like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. And if you’re a cooking competition fan, then there are options galore, including my personal favorite, Nailed It!, one of the best/worst cooking competition shows.

But why not look outside the U.S. for your next show? There is literally a world of international streaming television waiting for you. While some are Netflix Originals, others first aired in their home country before the service started streaming them.

Click through the gallery below to see our favorite bingeable series from the U.K., Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Japan and beyond. They range from family sitcoms to neo-futuristic thrillers, so there is something for everyone.

(You can view foreign language series two ways: either with English dubbed over, or in the original language with English subtitles.)

Pedro Saad/Netflix
3%, Brazil

Visit the dystopian future in Brazil’s hit series, 3%. Here, the majority of people live in slum-like conditions and work tirelessly for very little, as resources are spread too thin between too many. Each year, however, 20-year-olds in the downtrodden Inland are given the opportunity to enter “The Process,” a series of tests given—both physical and mental—for a chance to move to the coveted Offshore, a paradise haven created years ago when society started taking a downturn. Yet, only 3 percent pass the test each year. What exactly is the Offshore hiding and what happens when members of the rebellious Inland group The Cause infiltrate The Process? This fast paced show is gritty, dark, and does a fine (yet very scary) job imagining the not so distant future.

Watch if you like The 100.

Mark Johnson/Netflix
Chewing Gum, UK

Creator, writer and actress Michaela Coel is the force behind Tracey Gordon, a repressed (but oh-so-horny) 20-something who lives with her  religious mother and uptight sister, Cynthia. After finally realizing her boyfriend is a closeted gay man, Tracey decides to live a little. With a new boyfriend, sex on the mind, and her religious past still knocking down her bedroom door, you won’t be able to get enough of Tracey or Chewing Gum. Plus, Coel’s wonderfully physical portrayal of Tracey is a sight to behold.

Watch if you like New Girl.

Steffan Hill
Crazyhead, UK

Take sister Cynthia (Susan Wokoma) from Chewing Gum, but turn her into a demon killer and mentor to Amy (Cara Theobold), a bowling alley employee who recently figured out that she is a “seer”—a.k.a., someone who can see demons. The show is part Buffy (badass young women who take down evil), Shaun of the Dead (while it doesn’t have zombies, yet, Crazyhead does provide the same sort of British humor), and its own unique twist on the supernatural. Sadly, there are just six episodes, with no plans to make a season 2. But the low episode count makes it perfect for a day of binge watching while fueling your faith in funny girl power.

Watch if you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Letdown, Australia

Mothers everywhere will find themselves connecting with new mum Audrey (Alison Bell) as she struggles with sleep deprivation, balancing work and motherhood, and trying to find her place in a new moms group. This comedy should give harried new parents something to laugh at, perhaps even themselves.

Watch if you like SMILF.

Courtesy of Netflix
Fauda, Israel

“Fauda” means chaos in Arabic, and this show certainly lives up to its name. An intense drama about a close-knit Israeli anti-terrorist unit, Fauda is certainly political, but it humanizes those on both sides. Most of the action surrounds Doron, a retired member of the Israeli Defense Force who gets pulled away from his family and vineyard into his old unit. This is a hard show to watch, but the acting is truly phenomenal, and it provides a much different angle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than portrayed elsewhere.

Watch if you like 24.

Atelier, Japan

There’s a hint of The Devil Wears Prada mixed with a dash of an upscale Victoria Secret’s fashion show in Atelier, a Japanese show about a small bespoke lingerie company. Lovers of fashion or those just dipping their toes in the lacy pool will enjoy learning about all that goes into creating a lingerie line. The show’s star, besides the gorgeous lingerie, is Mayuko (Mirei Kiritani), a new employee at the small lingerie design house, Emotion. She loves fabrics, but does she understand what it takes to turn her favorite materials into true works of art? Watch as she finds her place and purpose at work; laugh, cringe and sigh as Mayuko navigates her emotionally mercurial boss, Mayumi (Mao Daichi).

Watch if you like Ugly Betty.

Manuel Fernandez/Netflix
Cable Girls, Spain

Practice your Spanish and brush up on your history with this period drama that tells the story of four young women working at a burgeoning telecommunications company in Madrid. Cable Girls follows their lives—through romance, family, friendship, and the various trials and tribulations of being working women in the 1920s. Between the amazing costuming and hair and the story lines, you’ll quickly find yourself captivated with this group of friends. With season 3 starting this September, now is the perfect time to binge watch the first two seasons!

Watch if you like Call the Midwife.

Kim's Convenience, Canada

The Kim family is just like any other typical, dysfunctional family; they just happen to also be Korean-Canadian, which adds its own special twist. This Toronto series features an immigrant couple (and their two young adult children) who own and run a corner convenience store. My own immigrant father came to the U.S. later in life (so he has a heavy ethnic accent and lots of cultural quirks not typical to the states). There are so many little aspects to Appa (a.k.a. Mr. Kim, played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) that remind me of my father—both in humourous and frustrating ways. Let’s just say I can relate to a lot of what daughter Janet deals with. A hit in Canada, Kim’s Convenience has recently come to Netflix, which makes binging the two available seasons of this show, a breeze.

Watch if you like One Day at a Time.

What’s your favorite foreign show to stream on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below!

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