International Media You Need To Watch
International media is so underrated.
The amount of rubbish English-speaking countries watch is astonishing. But then, to make matters worse, they completely disregard international media because they’re in a foreign language. There is some fantastic international media out there that doesn’t get the clout it deserves while terrible, truly terrible English and American stuff gets worldwide broadcasts/releases purely because it’s in English.
I have not nearly watched as much international media as I want to. I have a long way to go. But I wanted to share some of the non-English shows and films that I love. And while some are popular in their own right, I feel the others that aren’t would no doubt be if they were in English.
Jongens – Dutch
A coming of age movie about two boys falling in love in the build up to an important school relay race. Ok, it’s not that important, but they train a lot, and it’s where they meet. It has a lot of the standard components of an indie coming of age film. There’s almost zero music, with long shots on faces and nature. But it’s still a gorgeous movie that (I think?) is on Netflix, so go give it some love!
SKAM – Norwegian
My love. The light of my life. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that my favourite show of all time is SKAM. I will recommend this show for the rest of my life. It changed my life. I honestly didn’t expect it. I started watching it after seeing GIFs on Tumblr while season three was happening.
It’s a teen drama, with a focus on a specific character each season. I wouldn’t call it a school drama because each season is about a person rather than the goings on in the school? Adults very rarely have speaking parts and a lot of scenes happen outside of school. Each season discusses different topics: friendships, relationships, bullying, racism, homophobia, love, mental illness… there’s a lot going on, but each topic is so well-researched and powerful. Plus, the teenagers are played by teenagers! A concept!
SKAM has sprouted quite a few remakes in other countries, including…
SKAM Italia – Italian
This show is one of my newer loves. The show, while set in a different country, has similar characters and story lines to the original SKAM (see above), but also has developed its own look and feel. Especially considering they have made Norwegian’s SKAM season three their season two. My favourite SKAM season is three, so you can only imagine how happy I was when I realised I didn’t have to wait half a year to watch a re-imagined version of my favourite show! And it’s incredible, by the way.
Merli – Catalan
I found Merli after having nothing to watch after I’d finished SKAM about a year ago. It’s set in Barcelona, in a public school (or maybe a college?) and centres around a philosophy teacher and one particular class of his. They look like seniors, but there’s three seasons and I’m not sure if that equals three years. Maybe it’s more than a year? I don’t know, but there’s one character who ages quite significantly, so I’m assuming it’s told over a few semesters. Each episode focuses on a specific philosopher and their teachings, and the teachings are applied to what’s happening to the class.
(I would have put a GIF here but they were all full of spoilers)
Merli often feels like a telenovela/soap opera. It’s hilariously dramatic with people shouting and slapping one another. People always come to the wrong conclusion and argue and storm off. It’s so funny (and not a bad thing), but there are also some fantastic lessons to be learnt from the things that the characters go through. They still experience realistic things, despite the silly interactions they have.
Elite – Spanish
The most recent show I’ve gotten into. I watched 8 40 minute episodes in 2 days. How? I have no clue, since I’m out of the house 11 hours a day with no access to Netflix. But I did it anyway! Like Merli, and most of the shows I recommend, Elite is a school drama set in a prestigious school, with all the students from rich and powerful families. The story follows three scholarship students from the poorer neighbourhood who wind up in the middle of the rich kids’ drama, which includes murder.
It’s Gossip Girl with murder (and more POC and LGBT characters). It also has an English dub available if you really don’t want to read subs. But that isn’t as fun, is it?
Yuri! On Ice – Japanese
There are so many Japanese shows to watch, from live action to anime, that I’m often overwhelmed with what to watch. I’ve watched anime since I was a kid, but I’ve never felt this much love for an anime until I watched Yuri! On Ice, which is about competitive ice-skating. Not only is it funny and dramatic, it’s beautiful too. From the music and the dances to the story lines about working hard and finding your passion in life. I know getting into anime can feel like a lot, but if you want to start with any, I’d start with Yuri! On Ice!
Of course, there are so, so many international shows that don’t get any time of day in the English speaking world. This is such a small collection, with most of them set in a school, weirdly. I guess those are the kind of shows I like! Do you watch international media? What are some of your favourites?
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