The author loves writing about new things that others may find enjoyable.
If you’re quarantined at home due to COVID-19 concerns, then grab your popcorn, and binge-watch these 12 international series on Netflix. They’ll life you from any coronavirus blues. I prefer hearing the original language and watching English subtitles to get the flavor of the producing culture. But if you prefer not to read, you can easily choose an English-language audio track for these delights.
Money Heist (Casa de Papel)
The brilliant Professor (Alvaro Morte) carries out a heist at the Spanish Royal Mint with the help of quirky colleagues. For extra anonymity and safety, members of the gang are named after cities of the world, so nobody knows anyone’s real name.
The Professor pre-plans every move and anticipates every contingency to ensure that everything goes according to plan, except when it doesn’t. Strong female characters (played by Ursula Corbero, Alba Flores, Itziar Ituño, and Najwa Nimri) and cliff-hanger endings compel you to watch the next episode as soon as you finish the current one. Now in its fourth season.
In 1945, Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a World War II combat nurse disappears through a ring of stones on her Scottish vacation to appear 200 years in the past. She leaves behind loving husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) but falls in love with a Jamie, a rebel trying to rid Scotland of its English overlords. She tries to navigate an alien world while trying to maintain her ties to her husband and her new love, and avoid altering history negatively.
The acting by Jamie (Sam Heughan) is overwrought in the beginning at times but he is gorgeous to look at. The writing, plots, characters, and beautiful costumes make this an addicting series. Only the first three of the five seasons are on Netflix. The rest, including the just-announced season six, are on Starz.
What do you get when you mix costume drama set in the Joseon period (1592-1598), political intrigue as a usurper tries to steal the throne, and the world’s fastest zombies? Kingdom, now in its second season. Netflix’s first original Korean series is packed with action but is not for the squeamish: the zombies kill and are killed in a variety of bloody ways. Each of the two seasons runs for only six episodes.
Dan and Eugene Levy created and star as father and son in this half-hour Canadian sitcom about socialites who their fortune and forced to live in the backwater town of Schitt’s Creek. Completing the Rose family are daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy) and wife Moira (the hilarious Catherine O’Hara) whose crazy hats and outfits are the talk of the fans. The writing is sharp and the comedy is insightful and laugh-out loud. Only the first five seasons are on Netflix. The sixth and final season is on Pop TV.
Three working-class teenagers attend an elite Spanish private school, which eventually triggers a murder of one of the wealthy students. There’s plenty of romance, sex, drinking, and drugs in this soap opera that is ignited by heightened emotion and outrageous plots. The attractive cast includes Itzan Escamilla, Miguel Bernardeau, Danna Paola, and Minna El Hammani. Just when you think one scandal is resolved, another takes its place. Five seasons, so far.
Schaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom
Stop-motion animation rules in this British series based on the Wallace and Gromit series by Nick Park of Aardman Animations. No spoken words interrupt the action as Schaun and his barnyard buddies go through adventures with sheepdog Bitzer and the clueless Farmer. Each episode consists of two unrelated six-minute segments that are perfect for kids with short attention spans. A longer movie with the same characters, Farmageddon, is also available on Netflix. Only one season, so far.
I’m plenty biased including this mini-series from the Philippines, the land of my birth: it’s uncharacteristically slick and modern. Sympathetic and believable Derek Ramsay plays high-schooler Joseph who gets involved in the drug trade and eventually runs afoul of officer Camilo Molino (Allen Dizon).
The effort has generated controversy because some say it glorifies President Duterte’s violent and vigilante-style war on drugs, which may have killed from 4,000 to 20,000 people, depending on who you ask. The series suffers occasionally from the hallmarks of Filipino drama: over-sentimentality, moralizing, and plot holes. The complete story lasts only one season but rumors are that a second season is in the works.
Running a convenience store in Toronto has never funnier than in this sitcom helmed by the Korean-Canadian Kim family. Lovable patriarch, Mr. Kim (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), is assisted by his wife Mrs. Kim (Jean Yoon), who tries to keep tabs on their stubborn collegiate daughter, Janet (Andrea Bang), and slightly narcissistic son, Jung (Simu Liu). Friends, co-workers, roommates, and customers of all ethnicities round out the amusing cast. This half-hour comedy has currently run for four seasons.
Rilakkuma and Kaoru
The name Rilakkuma comes from the English “relax” and Japanese “kuma,” which means bear. This stop-motion half-hour series showcases the charming adventures of the cuddly character, and his friends Korilakkuma (Little Rilakkuma) and Kiiroitori (Yellow Bird), who are all watched over by Kaoru, a single Japanese office-worker. If you can’t get enough of these cuties, you can buy their related kawaii (cute) merchandise online and in local Japanese stores. There’s only been one season but fans around the world, including me, are hoping for another.
Directed by Lana and Lily Washowski with post-production by J. Michael Strazynski, this science-fiction drama details the lives of eight strangers around the world who suddenly experience each other’s senses, thoughts, and feelings while gaining each other’s skills. Highlighting the fascinating script and inventive directing are on-location shots in such places as Berlin, Chicago, Mumbai, Nairobi, and Seoul, and an international cast that includes Daryl Hannah, Brian J. Smith, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Max Rimelt, and Doona Bae. Unfortunately, because of the series cancellation, what would have been the third season is crammed into a two-hour conclusion after the second season.
The titular character, played by Lorenzo Richelmy, assumes almost background status when he turns up in the court of Kublai Khan in 13th-century Mongolia. Instead, the series focuses on the royal denizens like Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong), Empress Chabi (Joan Chen), advisor Mahesh Jadu (Ahmad), and Princess Kokachin (Zhu Zhu). Expect excellent acting, historically accurate details, and lavish costumes. The fabulous Michelle Yeoh becomes a regular in the second season, which unfortunately is the series’ last.
Brilliantly written and cleverly directed, the British Sherlock features the compelling acting talents of Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, who solves mysteries correctly but rubs people the wrong way. Martin Freeman brings likability and contrast to the role of Dr. John Watson. Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle will delight in the many references to his stories. And those who know nothing of the canon will be intrigued by how the detective deduces his solutions. The series is in its fourth season with each episode lasting an hour and a half.
Which do you like?
© 2020 Aurelio Locsin
Tammy Winters from Oregon on August 30, 2020:
Nice hub....very useful
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 10, 2020:
I'm going to see if we can locate the movie "Money Heist" on our TV. Thanks for the tips of good things to watch.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 27, 2020:
I would love to watch many of these primarily the Money Heist and Sense8. Thanks for sharing these the best on Netflix.
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on May 26, 2020:
I watched Outlander recently, and Sherlock a long time ago. They were both pretty good, but I liked Outlander better. I started to watch Marco Polo, but the first couple of episodes didn't really draw me in, so I quit. That was back when we had endless options though.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2020:
We have yet to watch any of these but did some binge-watching over the holiday weekend of Downtown Abbey. We missed the first part of it, but it was fabulous. My husband would like that first one you mentioned, and I think that Schitt's Creek sounds cute.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 23, 2020:
Thanks for the briefs about these interesting series. With a lot of time on hand courtesy the lockdown I will check out some. Stay safe!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 23, 2020:
I have popcorn! Now I just need to start watching some of these movies. Thanks for telling us a bit about them. Stay safe!
Marlene Bertrand from USA on April 22, 2020:
You have done the work of finding something enjoyable to watch. These are all so exciting. I have my eye on Schitt's Creek and think I'll start with that.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 22, 2020:
This collection should have something for everyone. You have covered such a wide variety. I was amused to see Shaun the Sheep in there.