Five of the Best Series to Learn and Improve your German

Nick Field

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Read Time: 5 minutes

Let’s face it, learning German can be a toughie, and we can always do with more engaging, relaxing and put-your-feet-up ways to practice and improve. One common misconception is that there aren’t any good German series out there. To save you trying to prove that myth right, we’ve compiled a short list of some seriously good shows to watch. Whatever way you like your subtitles, these shows will keep you interested throughout as well as improving your language skills…and probably renew your Netflix subscriptions.

1. Dark

Dark is an ambitious, bewildering and quite addictive Netflix production which had me hooked for weeks. It’s all about a seemingly normal, little German town in the middle of who-knows-where. Except, as you will quickly realise, everything is far from normal. Set amidst the backdrop of a persistently (yes) dark and rainy microclimate, the ominous presence of a nuclear power plant next door is the big elephant in the room in this show. Add to that the harrowing disappearance of several children and a fair amount of time travel, Dark will have you desperate to find out what is really going on in this place. 

Where can you find it? Netflix

2. Deutschland 83

Stylish and captivating, this Cold War spy story is a brilliant take on a divided Germany and will drop you right back into eighties Berlin with a perfect soundtrack and masterful acting. Matching a thrilling plot with some playful humour, the show is relentlessly paced yet has great timing, and hits that sweet spot between serious and downright fun. The drama follows Martin, a young East German sent across the Wall to spy on the West. Jonas Nay has been rightly lauded for his portrayal of our protagonist here, and with the Deutschland 86 follow-on series, we get to see even more of him.

Where can you find it? 4OD

3. Perfume

Inspired by the iconic novel and 2006 film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Das Parfum: Die Geschichte eines Mörders), this Netflix adaptation brings contemporary context to the story whilst staying true to the novel’s original and unsettling concept. The powerful relationship between scent and emotion is viewed with a different lens here, and albeit a slow burner at times, the show keeps you guessing and is worth getting stuck into. 

Where can you find it? Netflix

4. Criminal: Germany

Part of Netflix’s recent interrogation room mini-series, the German version definitely pulls its weight in this international police-off. The three showdowns between suspect and detective are claustrophobic, tense and play out like games of chess. It’s an interesting project and the emphasis on intense dialogue exchange and some hard-hitting accents are ideal for language learning.

Where can you find it? Netflix

5. Babylon Berlin

We’ve saved the best for last. A truly landmark production. Exhilarating, rich in layers and with dazzling visuals, this show captures the world of the Weimar Republic in 1929 and packs it full of mystery, character, complexity and detail fitting of its somewhat unknown tag as the most expensive foreign-language series ever produced. This must-see was directed by a trio of German cinema heavyweights: Tykwer, Handloegten and von Borries, and features up to 157 characters! It’s a revolutionary creation for German television and deserves far more international recognition. So, if you haven’t already, get started!

Where can you find it? Sky, Now TV, Amazon Prime

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