May 18, 2021

20 excellent international TV shows to stream right now

Even though many of us aren’t ready to travel around the globe just yet, the big ol’ world of digital streaming services means that it’s possible to get a little bit of culture from countries like France, South Korea, Denmark, and the United Kingdom without even leaving the couch. 

Feeling a little burnt out with your Netflix queue? Add these 20 excellent series, ranging from Nordic neo-noirs to Spanish teen dramas and cheeky Australian dramas, to your streaming rotation right now for a binge-watch that feels a little bit like a vacation. 


1 of 20

Kim’s Convenience

Kim's Convenience

Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

This cult-favorite Canadian TV show about a Korean family that runs a convenience store is equal parts funny and heart-warming. Now in its fifth season, the show just announced that it would come to an end after the final episodes air on Netflix later this year. In the meantime, stream all currently available episodes on Netflix. 


2 of 20

The Investigation

The Investigation

The Investigation HBO Official Website

A brooding, dark Nordic drama that centers around the real-life killing of Swedish journalist Kim Wall and the investigation that eventually put her murderer behind bars for life. Filmed in Danish with English subtitles, it’s a fascinating look into the work done by divers, engineers, and detectives to bring a killer to justice. Stream all episodes of the limited series on HBO Max. 



Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

Starring David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, and beloved actress Olivia Colman, Broadchurch is a classic, gritty crime procedural with one hell of a season one finale twist. The subject matter is a little bleak, to be sure, but the acting and writing in this British series is not to be missed. Stream all episodes of Broadchurch’s three seasons on Netflix. 




In the United States, the dialogue in this charming French series has been dubbed over with English, which can be a little distracting at times. But fans of a good caper will be willing to overlook those strange mouth movements in favor of star Omar Sy’s compelling performance as Arsene Lupin, a cunning art thief who’s in pursuit of justice for his family. Stream the first season of Lupin on Netflix now ahead of the second season’s release, which is expected to happen in Summer 2021. 


5 of 20

Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City

Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City

Terrace House/Netflix/Screengrab

A cult classic that brings together six strangers and makes them figure out how to live in one house together, Japanese reality show Terrace House is a definite must for reality TV junkies who love shows like Big Brother and Survivor. Stream Parts 1 and 2 of Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City on Netflix now. 


Itaewon Class

Itaewon Class/Facebook

This South Korean drama explores culture, family, loyalty, revenge, and power, centered around a gritty street bar and the young people who run it, in a way that’s perfect for binge-watching. Stream all of the show’s first season on Netflix now. 


Call My Agent!

Dix Pour Cent [Official Facebook Page]

A tongue-in-cheek, high-drama look at a fictional French talent agency, get a look behind the scenes at the antics of the rich and famous in Call My Agent! Originally, the show was set to end last year after its fourth season, but now there’s a fifth in the works, along with a feature-length film. Stream the first four seasons on Netflix now. 



Wentworth/Official Facebook Page

An Australian predecessor to Netflix’s smash-hit Orange Is The New Black, Wentworth follows a woman named Bea Smith, who’s been sentenced to prison after being accused of murdering her husband. Like in “OITNB,” Bea has to figure out how to make her way through the world of prison, navigating a dangerous hierarchy and forming close-knit relationships with her fellow inmates along the way. Stream all eight seasons on Netflix. 



Marcella Official Facebook Page

One of the finest shows in the “Nordic-noir” genre, Marcella is the definition of a dark and brooding crime drama. It follows London detective Marcella Backland as she investigates the case of a serial killer in the midst of personal chaos, a storyline that provides plenty of entertaining twists and turns along the way. Stream all three seasons on Netflix. 



Elite Official Facebook Page

This sultry Spanish drama revolves around the lives of students at an elite private school called Las Encinas, both the “haves” and the “have nots.” There’s plenty of murder, sex, and intrigue — Elite isn’t exactly “safe for work — to keep any TV junkie interested in this seriously dramatic plot. Stream all four seasons on Netflix now. 


Peaky Blinders

Robert Viglasky for Peaky Blinders’s Official Facebook Page

Inspired by an actual street gang that ruled the streets of Birmingham, Netflix’s Peaky Blinders is definitely violent, but there’s much more intrigue here than one might expect. With a killer cast — think Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and the late, great Helen McCrory — Peaky Blinders isn’t exactly historically accurate, but the story is still plenty compelling. The show’s sixth, and perhaps, final season is currently in production, but fans can stream the first five seasons in full on Netflix. 


Money Heist

Money Heist Official Facebook Page

A smash-hit Spanish caper that follows two truly dramatic cash heists, “Money Heist” is a seriously entertaining show with a stellar cast. Watch all four seasons on Netflix, and pay close attention — sometimes, the story here isn’t exactly what it seems. 



Snowpiercer Official Facebook Page

Based on the post-apocalyptic South Korean film by “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho, “Snowpiercer” is a deep exploration of class dynamics with stunning performances from actors like Daveed Diggs, of “Hamilton” fame. Stream both seasons via Hulu or HBO Max. 



Borgen Official Facebook Page

This Danish political thriller/drama is centered around the fictional election of the country’s first female prime minister, and it actually precedes Denmark’s actual first female prime minister, who was elected in 2011. Fans of shows like “The West Wing” and “House of Cards” will find plenty of intrigue and scandal to enjoy in Borgen’s three seasons, all of which are currently streaming on Netflix. 



Dark Official Facebook Page

This German series is equal parts sci-fi and thriller, following a fictional German town as it tries to unravel generations of secrets. There’s time travel, double lives, and actual wormholes, making “Dark” decidedly different than most American crime shows. Stream all three seasons on Netflix now. 


Babylon Berlin

Babylon Berlin Official Facebook Page

This German neo-noir is set in the Roaring ‘20s, where female police officers are also flappers. Set immediately after the end of World War I, the show is dubbed over in English on Netflix, which makes it a little easier to follow the winding storylines and historical references. All episodes are currently available for streaming now, and a fourth season is set to be released sometime this year. 


Midnight Diner


This iconic Japanese series, based on a manga of the same name, tells the story of the Master, who operates a nights-only diner in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. Serving salarymen and yakuza (gangsters) alike, the Master’s focus on preparing the stunning dishes requested by his customers is entrancing, and even a little bit soothing at times. Stream two seasons of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories on Netflix now. 


18 of 20

Summer Heights High

Summer Heights High

Summer Heights High on HBO Facebook Page

Even though it’s set in Australia, anyone who’s attended high school anywhere can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek charm of “Summer Heights High.” This mockumentary-style show is set in the suburbs of Sydney and tells the high school experience from the perspective of teacher Mr. G, rich private school girl Ja’Mie King, and Tongan bad boy Jonah Takalua. It’s silly and goofy, to be sure, no one can say “Summer Heights High” isn’t fun. Stream the show’s first and only season on HBO Max. 


19 of 20

Call The Midwife

Call The Midwife

Call The Midwife Official Facebook Page

Set in London’s East End in the mid-20th century, Call The Midwife is a period medical drama that takes place in the midst of the “Baby Boom.” The show deftly tackles social issues ranging from racism to fears of impending nuclear war and serious health conditions, all while showcasing the incredible relationships of the women doing this essential work. Stream all nine series, plus the show’s Christmas specials, on Netflix. 




This Danish show turns whatever stereotypes you might have about the clean-cut nature of teachers right on their heads. Single mom and teacher Rita Madsen is the definition of unconventional, with a quick wit and sharp tongue that hides a soft interior that really does care about her students. Stream the show’s five seasons on Netflix. 

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