Who doesn’t love a good show they can immerse themselves in over the weekend to unwind?
If you’ve exhausted your list of English Netflix TV shows, we are here to your rescue with a pick of the top ten foreign TV shows on Netflix that demand your attention right away.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games is a crime thriller set in the city of Mumbai, India. The series alternates between two parallel story lines, the present story line featuring cop Sartaj Singh and the flashback story line featuring notorious gang lord and criminal mastermind, Ganesh Gaitonde. When beat down and troubled cop, Sartaj Singh gets a call from Ganesh Gaitonde, who has been missing for the past 16 years, he is startled and intrigued at the same time. Gaitonde tells him that he has 25 days to save his city, and thus unfold a chain of events and a countdown to the 25th day, as they try to uncover what is going to happen. As the story progresses, Ganesh Gaitonde’s rise as a crime lord is highlighted through brilliantly executed flashback sequences, that sheds light on the dark underworld of India, set against the backdrop of a country divided by religions, caste, economic divides and political unrest. This is contrasted with the present-day situation where Sartaj himself deals with bureaucracy and corruption as he tries to investigate the threat from Gaitonde but faces resistance from the very system he works for. Not only is the show energetic and gripping from the very first minute, it has received exceptional critical and commercial acclaim for the cast’s stellar performances and the unique storytelling methods employed by the makers. With only one season and 8 episode, you are guaranteed to finish this one in one sitting.
Another one from Netflix India, this one’s a collaboration between Phantom Films (the makers of Sacred Games), Ivanhoe Pictures (The Wailing), and Blumhouse Productions (the makers of Insidious and Get Out). Needless to say, the show belongs to the horror genre and is a finely crafted one at that. The mini-series is set in a dystopian India where fascism reigns, sectarian violence has reached a critical point, secret detention cells have been set up, religious intolerance has peaked, and anyone opposing the fascist regime is prosecuted. This is when a shiny officer, Nida (played by Radhika Apte), turns in her own father as she thinks he is involved in seditious activities. For this brave act, she is transferred to a secret detention facility even before she completes her training and is asked to assist with the interrogation of one of the most wanted criminals, Ali Saeed. Thereafter, a ghoul is summoned using blood sacrifice, inflicting horror and havoc across the detention facility, where no victim is innocent. The gripping direction, tight screenplay, skilful cinematography and eerie music, work well together to really accentuate the horror element. With just the right amount of jump scares and minimal prosthetics and excessive make-up for the ghoul, this show is nuanced and eerily scary, perfect for a mini-binge as there are only three episodes of 45-minute duration in the first season.
This Israeli TV show has been critically and commercially acclaimed, won several awards and was picked as one of the best shows of 2017 by The New York Times. The premise is simple – a Palestinian terrorist, thought to be dead, emerges from hiding to attend a relative’s wedding and an Israeli undercover team, led by the agent who thought had killed the terrorist year before, is sent to kill him again. What follows are 12 intense, high-tension packed, edge of your seat, nail biting and thrilling entertainment that doesn’t conform to clichés and instead portrays everything with such honesty and reality that the show is beloved by both Israelis and Palestinians. Switching between Arabic and Hebrew, the reason why both sides love this show is because it doesn’t portray Hamas as all out evil but shows the humane side of them with real characters with real emotions, struggles and everyday moments. The lead actor playing the role of the Israeli undercover agent leading the team, played by Lior Raz, who is also the co-creator of the show, was part of the real Israeli secret service before he became an actor and the show incorporates his experiences and stories, which adds to the credibility and reality of the show. With two seasons, 12 episodes each of 30-35-minute duration, this is one thriller that demands your attention.
This one’s a must-watch for anyone interested in the origin story of cocaine and the famous cartels supplying it. The first two seasons revolve around the rise and eventual dominance of the world’s richest criminal, Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria. With a net worth of US$ 30 billion in 1993, which would be approximately US$50 billion today, Pablo Escobar was one of the founding members of the notorious Medellin Cartel that was responsible for supplying 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States turning profits of a whopping US$ 21.9 billion per year. The third season follows the formation and rise of the Cali cartel founded by the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers, Gilberto and Miguel, José Santacruz Londoño a.k.a Chepe, and Hélmer Herrera a.k.a Pacho. At its height, Cali Cartel was controlled over 90% of the world’s cocaine market and were responsible for its growth in the European market, with 90% control there as well. Beautifully documented by the makers, Narcos takes you to a world of extravagance, drugs, murders, conspiracies, politics and the multibillion-dollar drug enterprise that has today secured a spot in pop culture due their notoriety.
This show chronicles the rise, capture and escape of the infamous Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, a Mexican drug lord who headed the Sinaloa Cartel. Currently imprisoned in US pending trial, he is also known as ‘El Chapo’ meaning shorty, given his height of 168 cm. He is considered to be the most powerful drug trafficker in the world by the United States Department of the Treasury and is worth over $4 billion. El Chapo’s story, like every other great folk villain, is one that demands attention and is full of dramatic turning points. The series explores his life over three decades starting from 1985, to his rise to power to his capture and eventual escape from prison – a stunt that was termed jailbreak of the millennium, escaping from a maximum-security prison in Mexico through an underground tunnel riding a motorbike on rails. Like Narcos, El Chapo will take you on a journey through the glamorous lifestyle of drug dealers and Mexican corruption and politics and lots of carnage with the reliability of a drug dealer who always comes through.
A Very Secret Service
This French comedy is one of a kind. The show is set in a post-World War 2, 1950s France, struggling with independence movements of its colonies in Algeria and Africa, is also struggling with the rise of counterculture movement, feminism and new wave cinema. Amidst all this, a young man named Andre Merlaux, who is recruited by the (Fictional) French Secret Service as trainee during the Cold War, must make it through his elite training and become a full-fledged agent under the watchful eyes of operations director Monsieur Moise and his boss, Le Colonel. What follows is a hilarious but sophisticated representation of France’s political system, bureaucracy, office politics and romance making a very entertaining dramatic comedy similar to the style of the Pink Panther film series.
Call My Agent
Another French comedy, this one revolves around the glitz and glamour of the entertainment business in France. The show follows four agents working in one of the top talent agencies in Paris, named ASK, who represent some of the biggest stars in the French Film industry and struggle to run their business amidst a series of crises, creative and otherwise. Think French Entourage. The show has more than its fair share of celebrity cameos and artists’ insanity and breakdowns, much like Entourage, but even if you’re not familiar with the French Film industry, this show makes an entertaining watch and with only two seasons with six episodes each, this show is the perfect weekend binge.
If you’re looking for a show that will challenge your understanding of time travel, mysteries and thrillers, this German thriller is your top pick. If all you want to do is unwind with a chill show, Dark is not for you. The show is gritty, edgy, thrilling and as the title suggest, dark. Much like Netflix’s Stranger Things, Dark, set in the 1980s, follows a story where a group of kids go missing in a small German town and the viewers are presented with unexplained phenomena with flickering lights and unusual occurrences and an underground tunnel leading to a mystery facility where something strange is happening. For spoiler reasons, anything more than this can’t be said about the show as it will ruin the experience. But if you’re looking to immerse yourself into a show that will keep you hooked, intrigued, bewildered and challenge your thinking, Dark is as good as it gets.
The premise of this Spanish action/drama series is simple – eight criminals attempt an ambitious heist at the Royal Mint of Spain planned by a criminal mastermind, referred to as the Professor. The flawless plan eventually turns out to be flawed in practice as hostages are locked in with the criminals and the police intervene. So why is this show on this list? Simply because, it is probably the most addictive show ever made. This is a lesson in how one can make such a tried, tested and age old premise into something unique with exceptional performances from the cast, cliffhangers and twists that will put you on the edge of your seat, and a deep exploration of each and every character, criminal or otherwise, so much so that you will be faced with a moral dilemma of who to root for because you’ve fallen in love with characters both good and bad and want neither of them to lose in this game of mental chess laid out. Although the Spanish title of the show, La Casa De Papel (The House of Paper) is more interesting than the bland Money Heist, this show is guaranteed to give you a one of a kind experience. Don’t miss out.
The premise of this Brazilian show is enough to intrigue you – in a dystopian near-future, three percent of the candidates undergo a wicked and gruelling selection method to earn a spot to live in an idyllic land known as the Offshore. Created by Cesar Charlone, the Oscar nominated cinematographer of the classic City Of God, the show follows the journey of 20-year-olds striving to the reach the Offshore, sign up for a series of difficult physical, mental and social challenges which are designed to reduce their numbers. Of course, their eventual hidden motive is to destroy the very system that creates this divide. It essentially poses a simple question – how far would you go for a perfect life? The show makes for an exciting watch with enough twists and turns to keep one hooked and intrigued, employing storytelling techniques that keeps the audience in the dark about the promised Offshore land as much as the characters in the show who are trying to get there. It’s kind of similar to one of the Black Mirror episodes which deals with the same kind of premise and is also very similar to the premise of Hunger Games. A must-watch with enough entertainment to give you the perfect weekend binge, 3% is the most riveting and uplifting dystopian show that demands your attention.