Hidden Gems of Non-US TV
January 5, 2017 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I recently watched the French series Les Revenants and the British series Penny Dreadful and The Fall and absolutely loved them. What are some other really awesome non-US shows?

I happened across these shows through Netflix, but now I'm curious about what other really great shows I might be missing out on? (do not need to be available on Netflix)

For a sense of my taste I tend to prefer dramas to comedies (Twin Peaks, the X-Files, Buffy, The Good Wife) but mostly I guess I'm looking for really great, creative writing. There are several Scandinavian murder mystery shows (The Killing, The Bridge) that I've heard are excellent but there's gotta be some other great stuff out in the world!

If you're not in the US, what were the shows that had all the critics talking over the past few years? Also, if you have any recommendations for how to keep up with news on non-US shows, that would also be helpful (for example, I was skimming the TV reviews from Le Monde earlier this week).
posted by forkisbetter to Media & Arts (64 answers total) 102 users marked this as a favorite
Misfits is wonderful.
posted by phunniemee at 5:48 PM on January 5, 2017 [9 favorites]

Australian true crime drama: Underbelly

Season 4, Razor, is set back in the 20s and is visually beautiful too.
posted by Youremyworld at 5:49 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wentworth via Netflix. For real. Check it
posted by pipoquinha at 5:52 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Detectorists, of course, which seems to be becoming a Mefi favorite. And it's on Netflix.
posted by mochapickle at 5:55 PM on January 5, 2017 [14 favorites]

From Australia, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries!
posted by peacheater at 5:56 PM on January 5, 2017 [14 favorites]

Also, Foyle's War from the UK.
posted by peacheater at 5:56 PM on January 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

The Mighty Johnsons
posted by bq at 5:58 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Norwegian series Occupied is fantastic!
posted by Lycaste at 5:58 PM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I liked Hinterland (Welsh) on Netflix as well.
posted by TwoStride at 6:00 PM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Spiral is on Netflix and it's a crime drama. The French justice is system is quite different (to the US) and it's pretty interesting.

From the UK - Happy Valley, Broadchurch
New Zealand - Top of the Lake

I'm currently watching a Danish dramedy called Rita, which is pretty good. It centers around a rebellious single mother and her (adult) kids. Very different tone/subject matter than the above.
posted by AFABulous at 6:11 PM on January 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

does canadian count? if so omg Orphan Black
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:12 PM on January 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

You might enjoy In the Flesh (UK): it's just nine episodes (didn't get renewed for a third season, alas) and is available on Hulu. And seconding Orphan Black -- Tatiana Maslany is amazing in it.
posted by vespertine at 6:15 PM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Night Manager
posted by invisible ink at 6:22 PM on January 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

The Crown (UK)
The Heavy Water War (Norway)
3% (Brazil)

All on Netflix
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:24 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you don't mind subtitles, there's a Apple TV app for viki.com or you can watch on the site. It's mostly asian shows subtitled by volunteers. I just finished a Japanese tear-jerker about a guy who gets ALS. It was great, but a little melodramatic.

Now I'm binging on Rookie Agent Rouge, which is more of a historical spy thriller I didn't expect to like as much as I do. The first episode is a bit corny, but it settles in to good tv drama. The story writing is amazing. Plot twists everywhere!
posted by ctmf at 6:24 PM on January 5, 2017

From Australia, "Glitch". It is not a show about zombies. It is a show that would probably be "just another show" if produced in the US, but instead feels like it takes its viewers seriously rather than exploiting their emotions. Netflix got it renewed for a second season and I can't wait.

Also, Australia's "The Slap" and (nthing) "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" - in other words, check out Australian TV.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:26 PM on January 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

The Tunnel, which was on PBS last year, was suspenseful and occasionally devastating, but I couldn't stop watching in. Seconding Happy Valley, Broadchurch, and Hinterland. Also adding Last Tango in Halifax, which isn't suspenseful at all, but is very charming.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:31 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by invisible ink at 6:33 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

(On preview) Glitch is an Australian cousin of Les Revenants. It's watchable - not top tier but okay.

Crazyheads on Netflix is from the UK, and has a candy colored latter-day Buffy style.

Previously.tv has their Wheel of Murder coverage, which features non-US crime TV (right up my alley.)

My Australian hairdresser just recommended The Kettering Incident, which is set in Tasmania, but I haven't watched it yet myself so can't personally vouch for it.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:34 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding Occupied! Also Broadchurch.

The Bletchley Circle is a mystery drama focused on former code breakers.

Luther is a crime drama starring Idris Elba as a London Detective.

Ripper Street follows a detective in Whitechapel in the years after the Ripper murders. While I don't enjoy it as much as the above, it has Jerome Flynn.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:36 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mysteries with great characters and tension:
Vera (so good! From the books)
Kenneth Branaugh in Wallander
Field of Blood (young woman reporter in the 60s, miniseries)
Mayday (broadchurch like)

Fortier (Quebec, subtitles) from the 90s
Grande Ourse (Quebec, subtitled, think twin peaks)

Lighter mysteries
Hamish Macbeth (Scotland)
Brokenwood (new Zealand)
posted by chapps at 6:52 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Kenneth Branaugh in Wallander

Yuck, no, see the original Swedish version if you can find it.
posted by AFABulous at 7:15 PM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Canadian show The Newsroom -- quite unrelated to the US one of the same name. Looks like there's at least a few episodes on YouTube at the moment. First-rate quick, dark comedy.

If it doesn't need to be too recent, I was completely riveted by Survivors, a 1975 UK drama with a bit of a cult following. It was so good I'm kinda sitting around irritatedly waiting for enough time to pass for me to forget enough of it so I can re-watch it. (It was on YouTube, too.)

Finally, though it's just light comedy (and I initially had my doubts), the Welsh show Gavin & Stacey is brilliant, with writing batting much higher than normal sitcom fare.
posted by kmennie at 7:24 PM on January 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Australia: Please Like Me. Funny, tragic, heartbreaking and lovable. Deals with heavier subjects better than anything I've seen.

UK: Inside No. 9 - This is an anthology show. Weird, well-shot, interesting. Nthing Detectorists and Misfits. Utopia has a similar tone to Misfits - not a perfect show, but pretty great. It's quite old, but if you can get The Strange World of Gurney Slade, I highly recommend it.
posted by taltalim at 7:32 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Canadian show Slings & Arrows (2003-2007) is a remarkable little jewel of a show. It's one of my favorite shows from any country.

And if you allow for US/foreign co-productions (which "Penny Dreadful") was, then you might want to watch Hannibal as well; I suspect it might be up your alley, given your enjoyment of "Penny Dreadful" and "The Fall".
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:38 PM on January 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Hatufim / Prisoners of War (Israel) - Homeland was based on this one. Be aware it has some pretty intense torture scenes though.
posted by last_fall at 8:12 PM on January 5, 2017

The Guardian just did a wrap up of the best tv series of 2016.

Fortitude, a UK production filmed in Iceland.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:21 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Another Canadian gem: Due South.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:36 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

UK: Black Mirror, Sherlock, Broadchurch, Happy Valley, Misfits, The Missing
Spain: Merli

Most are on Netflix. Merli is new for me, and is from Catalan. It's based on an out-of-work philosophy teacher who gets a job at his son's school and it's freaking brilliant.

The way I keep up is by visiting the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4 OD pages frequently. You can mostly keep up that way, at least for British television.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:38 PM on January 5, 2017

Sherlock is so damned great!
Black Mirror, but be aware that the first episode is upsetting.
posted by cnc at 9:38 PM on January 5, 2017

be aware that the first episode is upsetting.

Every episode is upsetting! But totally worth the watch.
posted by mochapickle at 9:42 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing Black Mirror. Also I really enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell from the BBC.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:44 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm watching the Fall now. I like things you like.

You will like Scott and Bailey. It's on Hulu. Great writing and acting, and compelling storylines and mysteries.
posted by Zephyrial at 9:47 PM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kenneth Branaugh in Wallander

Yuck, no, see the original Swedish version if you can find it.

Sure! Haven't managed to see the Swedish version yet, though I hope to. I have read all the Wallander books as well as Mankell's other books and I did enjoy the UK version, having read all the books. Found it atmospheric, lovely landscapes.

Several of my other suggestions are available on Acorn.tv if not found on Netflix where you are.

nthing Borgen (political drama with an excellent cast and great women's roles) and Top of the Lake for atmospheric drama. The Canadian Newsroom and Slings and Arrows are both fantastic comedies.... and if you like Shakespeare, Slings and Arrows is an absolute must.

If you like cynical comedies like the Newsroom, you may also like The Foundation. It's like the British Office, but centres around a total asshole who runs a charitable foundation in Canada.

I also love the legal drama Silk, which is on netflix in Canada now, not sure about the US.
posted by chapps at 10:39 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Goblin. I thought I wouldn't ever watch a K-drama because they are so drama-soap but one of my kids got into it, then a friend did and when your stoic near-adult son is choking back tears over a tv show's theme music, you have to try one episode. It is full-on theatre, entirely conscious of the tropes it's working with and yet the moments in it are so good. Right now is the perfect time to start because there are ten episodes available, and just three more weeks (2 episodes each weekend) to the end which will be devastating. Widely available online.

I'm a big fan of the UK series Vera which is a grim brilliant crime drama set in Northumberland. The murders aren't connected, but the lives are, and the acting is so very good. Shetland is also very good but each series needs to be watched as an interconnected arc. Father Brown is a gentle update to Miss Marple if you like village-mystery dramas. Man Up is one of the funniest sitcoms I have ever watched but it's a very particular type of comedy (Oh, and Miranda - two types of comedy that just would never appear in a non-UK situation). Canada has Kim's Convenience which is billed as a comedy but is more of a family comedic drama and has just wrapped up its first season. Humans (UK) has been an intimate near-scifi series about robots and people that is beautifully and quietly acted. Moone Boy, a somewhat daft but lovely irish family drama-comedy.

Oh! Cleverman, the extremely harrowing Australian drama that just aired. It's sort of scifi-horror, and Aboriginal superhero legends. I got through 2/3 of the first season and intend to finish it and watch season two, but I am a total wuss for horror (Hannibal had to be watched with lights on EVERYTIME) and Cleverman is emotionally grim too.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:47 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

From Japan: Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, a warm-hearted love letter to Tokyo. Live-action. Each episode focuses on a different character. One of my favorite TV series this year.
posted by pmdboi at 10:55 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Coupling, a British sitcom.

Nthing Spiral, Slings and Arrows.
posted by Homer42 at 11:05 PM on January 5, 2017

Hey, great thread. Thanks so much.

I liked the first Season of "Satisfaction". Declined afterwards.


posted by yoyo_nyc at 11:30 PM on January 5, 2017

A Touch of Cloth, a parody of British police procedurals. First season (2 episodes) was in the absurdist, WAY over the top but played straight faced style of the film 'Airplane!', combined with profane and satirical. Second and third season were less 'Airplane!', and more in the usual comic/satirical style of the show's creator, Charlie Brooker - who also created Black Mirror.
posted by Homer42 at 12:56 AM on January 6, 2017

Dicte! Available on Netflix or amazon, I can't remember which. It's a brilliant dark murder mystery series from Denmark with a strong but flawed female lead.
posted by eglenner at 2:04 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Altes Geld showed up on Netflix recently. It's a drama about a rich Austrian family and is very funny, and dark, and a bit over the top. And Udo Kier is in it!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 3:57 AM on January 6, 2017

Deustchland 83 (German)
posted by lmfsilva at 4:15 AM on January 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I finally got to see Dancing on the Edge with the wonderful Chiwetel Ejiofor as a 1930s band leader in London. I didn't realise until it started that it was written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff who just writes these original, slightly bizarre, suspenseful stories that start slowly and before you know it, you are completely hooked; you just never know what is going to happen next. He also wrote Glorious 39 and Shooting the Past.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:25 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Italian: Young Montalbano (regular Montalbano was there before, but for some reason I like the young version).

Japan: Hitori Shizuka and many of the other WOWOW dramas.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 4:33 AM on January 6, 2017

The Kettering Incident is a masterpiece.
posted by mac-way at 4:44 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Given that you like Twin Peaks, the X-Files, and Buffy you must check out BBC's The Frankenstein Chronicles. It stars Sean Bean and is very good. The writing is excellent and the way they weave together fact & fiction is most creative.

"Inspector John Marlott investigates a series of crimes in 19th Century London, which may have been committed by a scientist intent on re-animating the dead." -imdb

posted by jammy at 4:49 AM on January 6, 2017

Argh! I am late to the party but I heartily recommend Série noire. It is a very clever show that is also slightly dumb -- an oft-neglected niche!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 5:22 AM on January 6, 2017

The Australian show Rake is funny and smart.
posted by girlpublisher at 5:41 AM on January 6, 2017

The Canadian show Travelers is on Netflix now - it's a very watchable and likable time-travel drama and there's good conversation about it here in the Fanfare section.

Another Metafilter Ask lead me to Flashpoint, also from Canada. It's a drama about a strategic response team, and can really put you on the edge of your seat, holding your breath. The outcomes aren't always happy and the episodes are intense, but I enjoyed it, especially the family aspect of the team.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:21 AM on January 6, 2017

Deutschland 83 was amazing (combined my twin loves of Tinker Tailor style Cold War spy drama and early 1980s synthpop). The Border (polish border police thriller) combined Eastern European moodiness and people running about in muddy forests, which are more niche interests but still tick my boxes.

Both are on the 4od app, and it's worth checking out all of the "Walter Presents" foreign language section on there to see if anything else catches your eye.
posted by tinkletown at 7:18 AM on January 6, 2017

Catastrophe has Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan (whose Pulling is a classic, btw) and, as a bittersweet bonus, Carrie Fisher as Rob's, um, difficult mother. A third season with added Carrie has finished filming. Although ostensibly a comedy, a lot of the subject matter is incredibly bleak and the treatment of these subjects never chases a cheap laugh.
posted by steganographia at 7:32 AM on January 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Un village français, a complex picture of part of occupied France, is one of the best things I've watched in past years.

On another note, I see Line of Duty (UK) hasn't been mentioned yet. A v procedural police show that takes a several episodes to become astonishingly good drama.
posted by squishles at 7:36 AM on January 6, 2017

Like trashy and clever? Dix pour cent aka Call My Agent! is the Parisian dramedy pour vous.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:57 AM on January 6, 2017

Lovesick. A sweet comedy that could have been neither in the wrong hands. Dylan wants a long term relationship, the women he meets want to hookup. After being diagnosed with a STD, Dylan has to notify them, starting with the most recent partner and working back. In Season 1 the series name was 'Scrotal Recall'. British.

Utopia. An ingenious, dark labyrinth of conspiracy and secrets. Like the characters, the viewer is sucked into the vortex. WARNING: It's violent. British.
posted by Homer42 at 8:43 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I always have to put in a pitch for Netflix's first Spanish-language series, set in Mexico, Club de Cuervos. I'm not sure if it counts as non-US programming, since the production and development seems to have been a joint venture between US and non-US writers and producers.
posted by megancita at 9:23 AM on January 6, 2017

I'm shocked My Mad Fat Diary hasn't been mentioned yet!
posted by bettafish at 9:58 AM on January 6, 2017

Seconding The Missing. The first season is on Amazon Prime.

I've also gotten hooked on Skam, which is Norwegian.

The Time in Between is a Spanish miniseries on Netflix that I really enjoyed, too.
posted by mollywas at 10:38 AM on January 6, 2017

I really liked the BBC remake of Survivors: virus decimates the world's population, GO!

In the Flesh is a really good zombie show from the BBC.

Borgen is awesome if you like politics and machination drama. It's about a female Prime Minster of Denmark. It's a little soapy and I've only watched the first series, but I loved it.
posted by Automocar at 11:25 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Comedy but worth a watch-Corner Gas. Episodes are on youtube and amazon.ca shipped me the set when I decided I needed it. It has some of the best writing ever imho.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 11:53 AM on January 6, 2017

I'm a little disappointed that Terrace House hasn't shown up on this list yet. It's a Netflix Original (sort of, there was a show already but it had been defunct for a while).

So, it's a reality TV show in Japan, but I promise you it's not what you think. There are no stupid challenges or producer-intervention. In fact there isn't even a TV crew inside the house, it's all shot remotely (trips are different, I imagine.) It's just 6 people in a house, living their normal lives, they're just staying together for a bit. They can, and do, leave when they feel their time has come to an end.

Everyone is just so good and kind and it's the anti-Jersey Shore and it's just fantastic and please watch it. It's a bit of a slow start so give it two eps, they're only 25-ish mins.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 3:02 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a few British recs for you:

Call The Midwives is on US Netflix and it's excellent. It's about a bunch of nurses/midwives serving the east end of London in the 50s/60s. It's a drama but it has funny moments and is very "heartwarming". It makes a good chaser for heavier, spookier fare like the below.

Grantchester is on Amazon Prime I believe and it's great too. About a young vicar in the 1950s who gets into solving murders with a cop friend. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but it's really great, James Norton is very good in the role as the young clergyman, who is a somewhat tortured burgeoning alcoholic.

Whitechapel is also on Amazon Prime, and it's very good as well. It's set in the present day Whitechapel, although there's a bit of ripperology and creepy murders and possible supernatural goings on. Very spooky. You might like it if you liked Penny Dreadful (I loved that show too).
posted by katyggls at 2:03 AM on January 7, 2017

I'm currently obsessed with El Internado Laguna Negra from Spain via Netflix. It's crazy weird and campy but you will get *sucked in* so fast. There are 70+ episodes altogether, so it will last you a while. All en español with subtitles, so you also get a language lesson ... I've picked up quite a few good curse words!
posted by mccxxiii at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2017

The first few seasons of BBC 4's Being Human were pretty great. A nerdy werewolf, a recovering vampire, and a lonely ghost shack up together and fight demons (literal and metaphorical) together. A decent mix of comedy, drama, and horror, though it kind of goes of the rails (and loses most of the original cast) by the fourth season series.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:11 PM on January 10, 2017

Hulu/Amazon Prime will provide all four seasons of Rev., a highly British "comedy" featuring an earnest Parish priest attempting to keep a forlorn church going in the center of London. Wry, fantastic and realistic, swerves from "Waiting for Godot" to pratfalls. Eighteen 30-minute episodes.
posted by Jesse the K at 8:42 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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