French Netflix where the captions match
February 28, 2018 4:50 PM   Subscribe

What are some relatively slow paced Netflix shows that are available in French with accurate French captions?

I am trying to improve my ear for French and I find it helpful to watch TV with the audio in French and with the captions also in French, so I can read and listen at the same time. But this only works if they actually pretty closely match.

I am currently watching Grace and Frankie and the speed of the dialogue, at least when one of the women isn't yelling hysterically, is great. But the captions are sometimes completely different from the spoken words and I am relying on the captions to help me hear the words.

Can anyone suggest specific shows that they know have well-matched captions? Or is there a website somewhere that rates the quality of captions?
posted by jacquilynne to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I can't suggest a specific show, but look for shows that were originally french shows.

The problem with non-French shows is that the subtitles you're seeing are often subtitles, not closed captions for the hearing impaired. They dub the shows separately so the translations aren't done by the same people. And the dubbing scripts are designed so the mouth-movements match, which means they're rarely exact translations (though it's crazy how close they can come while still matching mouth movements).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:05 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Have you tried any French shows? Most of them are packaged for Netflix by French post-production firms, so the French subtitles/captions should be excellent. We're in the US, so your selection may vary, but the two my wife and I have enjoyed are:

Witnesses (Les témoins): a French "Nordic noir" procedural series that is slow-paced and relies on precise, poetic dialog. It's set in Northern France near Belgium, so the actors may have a slight accent (one of the leads is actually Belgian).

Call My Agent! (Dix pour cent): a fast-paced trashy French comedy series that may have French subtitles that paraphrase a bit. But it's set in Paris with characters who pride themselves on being culturally up-to-date, so it's much more likely to be more natural Parisian French.

Marseille was disappointing and most of the other French shows on Netflix are procedurals not as good as Witnesses. Inexplicably, Versailles, a Franco-Canadian co-production shot partly on location, does not have French audio or subtitles in US Netflix.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:12 PM on February 28, 2018

Just as a side note, I am in Canada and interested more in Quebecois French than Parisian French, but at this point, I will take what I can get.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:32 PM on February 28, 2018

Sorry this isn't directly answering your question about Netflix shows, but since you're in Canada have you taken a look at It's Radio-Canada's video streaming platform so the shows are generally limited to their own offerings, but in my experience the captions are very good, since (AFAIK) they're the actual closed captions produced for broadcast TV.
posted by btfreek at 5:39 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another free, non-Netflix option, though registration is required: 6play has tons of reality shows, some of which have captions, e.g. Les reines du shopping, Les princes et les princesses de l'amour, and Chasseurs d'appart'.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:23 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Netflix used to have some really good shows from Qu├ębec, but they're gone now. La Mante and The Frozen Dead are Euro-French suspense with what look like pretty accurate captions, probably because of the slower pace.

I agree that might be a great choice for you. The captions I've seen are pretty damn accurate.
posted by maudlin at 6:32 PM on February 28, 2018

Another great show is "Spiral" (Engrenages). Lots of seasons, great characters. I likened it to a French Law & Order, only grittier and... more French.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:29 AM on March 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

It's blocked in the US, but maybe Tele-Quebec's video on demand content is captioned?
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:51 AM on March 1, 2018

Although it wasn't really an answer to my question as written, it turns out btfreek's suggestion of is the best solution to my problem. The captions on are very accurate to the actual dialogue, and it has a reasonable selection of shows to choose from.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:34 AM on May 24, 2018

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