For many of us, social distancing means spending some quality time with our couches and streaming services. What makes subtitled television shows particularly inviting during this time of self-containment is that they allow us the opportunity to travel somewhere else from the comfort and safety of our homes. Join Wonderwall.com as we list off the best foreign TV shows that deserve your attention… starting with this popular K-drama. Starring Son Ye-jin and Hyun Bin, "Crash Landing on You" chronicles the love story between a South Korean heiress and a North Korean military officer. In a paragliding excursion gone wrong, Yoon Se-ri drops down in North Korea, where she comes across Ri Jeong-hyeok, an army officer who decides to help hide her from law enforcement. The show has all the makings of a feel-good Korean drama, and after the first episode, you'll be hooked. Stream "Crash Landing on You" on Netflix. Keep reading for more…
Set in Madrid, Spanish drama "Money Heist" tells the story of a criminal extraordinaire known as "The Professor" (Álvaro Morte) who recruits eight individuals to help him carry out the biggest heist in history — which involves entering the Royal Mint of Spain and coming out with €2.4 billion. Divided into parts instead of seasons, "Money Heist" has become a global phenomenon. Stream all four parts on Netflix.
"Élite" has all the elements of an addictive teen drama: wealthy adolescents leading lives disparate from our own, a riveting murder mystery that unfolds throughout the season and tons of steamy moments between ridiculously attractive classmates. The series follows the lives of three students (played by Itzan Escamilla, Mina El Hammani, Miguel Herrán) from working class families who enroll at Las Encinas, an exclusive high school. The series is pretty similar to juicy teen drama "Gossip Girl," so if you're a fan of that, this'll definitely be up your alley. Stream all three seasons of "Élite" on Netflix.
After a virus carried by rain nearly kills the entire Scandinavian population, a group of young survivors band together as they search for any remnants of life on earth. Danish series "The Rain" is interesting in that it's essentially a coming-of-age drama set in a post-apocalyptic world; these characters still find themselves dealing with typical teenage dilemmas — love, jealousy, growing up — in spite of their dystopian circumstances.
"Carole & Tuesday"
The series "Carole & Tuesday," which is set on Mars 50 years in the future, focuses on teenagers and the titular singer-songwriter duo as they try to make it big in a music industry where songs are primarily penned by artificial intelligence. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (known for "Cowboy Bebop"), "Carole & Tuesday" is an animated series that feels all at once familiar and futuristic — it incorporates common elements of the modern world (like Instagram and Cyndi Lauper ballads) with tons of gadgets. At its core, it's an affecting show about female friendship — and that's reason enough to watch. "Carole & Tuesday" is available to stream on Netflix.
"Something in the Rain"
Another K-drama that makes our list? "Something in the Rain," which focuses on the relationship between a career-oriented woman (Son Ye-jin) who reconnects with the younger brother (Jung Hae-in) of her best friend after he returns to Korea from working abroad. The series charts their progression from acquaintances to friends to romantic interests and the resulting cultural taboos (like age difference) that complicate their burgeoning relationship. The series is sappy, but in the best "take your mind off current events" way possible. Stream all 16 episodes on Netflix.
Like "Black Mirror" but French. Set in Paris, the futuristic series "Osmosis" charts the creation of a dating app called Osmosis that has the capacity to go into the user's brain and find a 100% perfect match — but as is often the case with heavy reliance on artificial intelligence, things quickly go wrong for everyone involved. While the concept seems like something out of the acclaimed Charlie Brooker series "Black Mirror," "Osmosis" differs in that its episodic format allows for a deeper exploration of the twisty plot. The first season of the show, which premiered in March 2019, is currently available to stream on Netflix.
"Dark" is the type of show you initially feel overwhelmed by due to its incredibly convoluted plot, but once you finally grasp the story, you can't seem to get enough of it. After two kids go missing in a remote German town, details of its sinister past are unearthed as tensions rise between the families that are searching for the children. If you're looking to halfheartedly pay attention to a series, then we'd suggest you pass on this one — "Dark" requires your full, undivided attention in order to help you understand its intricate, maze-like storytelling. If you decide to commit, though, you're in for a treat. Both seasons of the German-language series are available to stream on Netflix.
Set in 16th century Korea, the first season of "Kingdom" follows the story of Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), who must halt the spread of a mystifying undead plague that has afflicted the king and some people in the country's provinces, all while fighting to claim the throne. "Kingdom" stands out from other shows in that it superbly takes common zombie tropes and reinvents them in a way that reinvigorates the genre. It's the period zombie plague series we didn't know we needed — and can't imagine not having. Stream both seasons of "Kingdom" now on Netflix.
Based loosely on Deborah Feldman's autobiography, "Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots," the Netflix adaptation tells the story of a Etsy, a 19-year-old Jewish woman who abandons her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn in hopes of starting a new secular life in Berlin, which is where her mother fled. But when Etsy's husband learns she's pregnant, he travels to Berlin to find her. While difficult to watch at times, the offers a poignant look into a resilient woman's pursuit of freedom. The four-part miniseries is currently available to stream on Netflix.
"Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories"
Based on the manga by Yarō Abe of the same name, the Japanese anthology series "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" centers on an impassive chef referred to simply as the Master (Kaoru Kobayashi), who runs a diner that is open from midnight to 7 a.m. There, he listens to his night-owl customers' stories. In addition to offering a compassionate ear, the Master also imparts his own knowledge on occasion. Each episode is self-contained and under 30 minutes, which allows for an easy, affecting watch just before bed. Get caught up on "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" now on Netflix.
Upon learning that an enemy he killed is presumed to still be alive, retired Israeli soldier Doron Kavillio (Lior Raz) rejoins the Israel Defense Force in an effort to recapture him. When his undercover mission goes awry, a series of chaotic events occur, which results in an epic manhunt to find and kill the remaining threat. While the foreign-language series is frantic, suspenseful and melodramatic like "Homeland" and "24," it's dissimilar in that it explores the meaning of morality within its characters. All three seasons of "Fauda" are available to stream on Netflix.
"Call My Agent!"
"Call My Agent!" is a series that centers on the agents at ASK talent agency whose day-to-day lives revolve around making sure their clients are happy. The French comedy is refreshing in that it's entirely without cynicism — it's a satirical breath of fresh air that actually makes the film industry look less misanthropic than it's generally depicted to be ("Entourage," we're looking at you). "Call My Agent!" makes for an upbeat, breezy watch. Isabelle Adjani and Nathalie Baye are among the A-list celebs who've made appearances on the hit series. All three seasons are currently available to watch on Netflix.
"Hibana: Spark" is a Japanese television series that centers on struggling comedian Tokunaga, who is taken under the wing of experienced comic Kamiya after they meet at a fireworks event. While the whole student-mentor relationship sounds like one you might have already seen, "Hibana: Spark" beautifully articulates the power of connection and the importance of challenging traditional ways of thinking. The dramedy has depth, and it's an inspiring watch. Stream all 10 episodes on Netflix.
Beloved actor Francesc Orella takes on the titular role in this Spanish series. Similar to Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society, "Merlí" tells the story of Merlí Bergeron, a free-spirited philosophy teacher who encourages his students to embrace unorthodox ways of thinking. As to be expected, it doesn't take long for a slew of problems to arise for Merlí and his students. All three seasons of the drama series are available on Netflix.