By Danielle Rice || Arts & Leisure Editor
With the recent winning of foreign film Parasite for the Best-Picture Academy Award, it’s a great time to appreciate filmmaking work from other countries. International television series can be a great way to learn more about a different culture and language through the context of a storyline and with the help of subtitles and dubbed dialogue. Netflix now has a wide number and variety of shows that have been made in other countries. Here are just a few of my favorites from the past couple of years.
Quicksand (2019) – Swedish television series
At the top of my list is Quicksand, a Swedish crime show that opens to the aftermath of a school shooting, which the main character, Maja, is under arrest for. The episodes switch back and forth between the present day where Maja is in jail for the shooting and a past storyline, as she is explaining her story to law enforcement. Her story starts when she first meets Sebastian, who quickly becomes her boyfriend. Their relationship starts off well, but we soon find out that he is toxic for her, and his many deep-set issues begin to seep into Maja’s life. Quicksand depicts such realistic portrayals of the pain of watching someone battle addiction and being hurt by them but, at the same time, not wanting to leave them alone. It also touches on the difficulty of dealing with an abusive relationship alone and the detriments of not getting help, as well as how hard it is to get people to understand your situation. This show hooks you in from the start and doesn’t let go until the mystery is revealed. I watched it with the dubbed English on, and I really enjoyed the fact that the Swedish actors who played the main characters dubbed for their own dialogue. Their accents reminded me that I was watching a Swedish series, and it pulled me into the story more. However, don’t watch this series if you are sensitive to school shootings, suicide, sexual assult, or substance abuse.
Home for Christmas (2019) – Norwegain series
Although it’s a little out of season by now, Home for Christmas is a Norwegain series that centers around the holiday season. It’s definitely a feel-good kind of show, and its six episodes are easy to binge in a couple of days (I speak from experience!). Home for Christmas is a romantic-comedy series about the stress of going home for the holidays and bringing along a significant other to meet your family. Johanne’s family pesters her to get a boyfriend, even placing her at the table between her two infant nephews, until she finally breaks and lies that she has one. This gives her a few weeks – a “countdown to Christmas” – to find a boyfriend to bring to dinner. Her struggle to find an even somewhat decent date is comical, but it also emphasizes the loneliness of not being “paired off” with someone when it seems like everyone else is. I won’t ruin the ending but know that it is truly heartwarming. The cold landscape of Norway sets the scene perfectly for the series, and I loved seeing the Norwegain winter traditions, such as going to the Biathlon games and cross-country skiing.
Baby (2018) – Italian series
Baby is a little lower on the list but still a noteworthy show. It’s an Italian series loosely based off of a true story about two high school girls who find themselves involved in an prositution ring. Despite the bizarre-sounding plot, the series actually has complex characters, great music and cinematography, and a captivating plot. Chiara, who, in the first episode, has a falling out with her best friend, befriends a quirky classmate, Ludovica, who introduces her to the wrong people. Chiara gets involved out of boredom of her city and her “typical” life, and Ludovica gets involved for the money. It includes everything from complex female friendships and familial problems to romantic relationships. Throughout the series, all of the characters seem to make a few bad decisions, and it’s a whirlwind to follow their emotional ups and downs.
Sophomore Danielle Rice is the Arts & Leisure Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.