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What's On TV: Top TV Shows in All Languages

Inspired by the “I would like to learn a new course” Guide, and curious about native media around the world, I wanted to make a thread to collaboratively build a comprehensive list of the top TV shows (by critical acclaim, audience viewership, etc.) in each language offered (or should be offered!) by Duolingo. I hope that this compilation can turn into an initial resource for Duolinguists learning multiple languages and/or seeking new languages to learn.

Why TV shows? Two reasons.

  1. If you're already learning a language: TV shows are one of the best methods to learn/improve.

    a. They are entertaining/story-driven: They can hold our attention better than your typical textbook.
    b. They are long-form: They offer both greater repetition and variety than movies in terms of vocabulary and sentence structures.
    c. They offer context: Communication occurs in a time and a place, within a situation, between persons of different genders and social statuses, whom have different relationships with one another, and so forth. How you speak to your boss at work could be very different from how you speak to your best friend on a Saturday night outing, especially in high-context cultures and in languages where gender and formality differences are built into the language. TV shows portray the contexts and the types of speakers (i.e. characters) that a language learner should be paying attention to, but may not regularly encounter in real life, to gain a deeper and more natural grasp of the target language. The visual element, furthermore, provides a much better aid to comprehension than audio only sources, such as audiobooks and radio (although these are good learning aids too!).
    d. They are culture: TV shows provide insight into the culture of a given country/language region both on a micro- or perhaps more superficial level and a deeper, macro-level. On the micro-level, each shot/film sequence portrays culturally-specific sights, sounds, and situations. On the macro-level, the narratives and themes of the stories, combined with the reactions of their native audiences, can tell us more about the customs, beliefs, and values of a particular country/region.

  2. If you're not yet learning a language: A vibrant pop culture sector is one of the major factors that attract new language learners. So, let's find out what people are watching around the world and what we're missing out on because we don't speak the language/are not apart of that cultural sphere.

So, please submit the hottest, the most critically acclaimed, the you-couldn't-help-but-binge TV shows in each language! I will list results in the main post by language, then number of upvotes. Please use the following format for easy tallying/viewer assessment:

  • One show per post. Please upvote posts instead of reposting.
  • Movies accepted if not enough TV show submissions.
  • Language/Region (of Origin)
  • Title/Year
  • Genre(s)
  • A couple of sentences about the premise of the show (no spoilers, please!) and language/culture notes.

An Unofficial Duolingo Guide to Top TV Shows
Please see comments for full description.
Updated: Sept. 20, 2017. First contributors--you guys are awesome! Keep 'em coming!

Chinese (Mandarin)

  1. 琅琊榜 (Lángyá Bǎng) / Nirvana In Fire (2015)


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Pustina (Wasteland): Czech drama series


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Danish TV - List of recommended titles
Danish TV shows
TV shows in danish


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
REQUEST: Recommendations for Dutch TV shows with English subtitles
Dutch TV Shows / Something I Can Watch Online?
Dutch TV series?


  1. Les Revenants (2012-2015)


  1. Tatort (1970-present)
  2. Der Club der roten Bänder (2015 - 2017)


No submissions yet. :(


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
An Israeli TV show

Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu)

No submissions yet. :(


No submissions yet. :(


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Irish Language Shows
Irish TV, Radio, Podcasts and YouTube!
Irish Movies or TV Shows?]


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Any recomendation of italian tv shows?
TV Shows in Italian with English Subtitles
Italian TV series


  1. 君の名は (Kimi no Na wa) / Your Name (2016)*
  2. ブリーチ / Bleach (2006-2010)

*Movie, not TV show.

Malay (Indonesian/Malay)

No submissions yet. :(


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
What are the best Norwegian TV series?
Norwegian Tv Shows
Norwegian TV shows


No submissions yet. :(


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Tips and suggestions on TV-shows, radio shows or podcasts!
Looking for movies/TV shows to help learn polish for English speaker


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Portuguese TV shows with subtitles
Portuguese TV/ Films/ Series


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Romanian TV shows


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Good Russian TV Shows?
Russian tv shows
Russian tv series and movies- your experience and recommendations


  1. El Ministerio del Tiempo (2015-present)
  2. Isabel (2011-2014)


No submissions yet. :(


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Swedish T.V series with English subtitles?
Swedish TV shows.
Good Swedish TV Shows/Movies?


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Turkish TV


No submissions yet. :(


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Vietnamese movies, series or tv shows with vietnamese subtitles


No submissions yet, but check out these links:
Y Gwyll / Hinterland BBC TV Series

September 20, 2017



Language/Region: French/France
Title: Les Revenants (2012-2015)
Genre: Mystery, Horror, Drama

Summary No, not like the Leonardo DiCaprio movie.
In a small, idyllic town in France, people who've died years ago reappear without any memory of dying or the time that passed. They are simply back.

It's not about zombies, not really, no flesh-eating or fights, but about the families and the lives of them and their families, who got people back, long after they stopped grieving for them.

The show won an international Emmy in 2013.

  • Language/Region: Spanish/Spain
  • Title/Year: El Ministerio del Tiempo (2015-still airing)
  • Genre(s): SciFi, Historical

Summary: The show follows the story of a secret branch of the Spanish Government, the Ministry of Time, which makes sure through the use of the gates of time (an element discovered in the times of Isabella the Catholic) that nothing in Spanish History is changed, and for that they employ many agents of different eras.

The many characters here are part of a patrol: Amelia Folch, the first woman to go to university in Spain in the 19thC, Alonso de Entrerríos, a soldier of the Spanish Tercios of Flanders in the 16thC, and Julián Martínez, a paramedic from the 21stC, but the show has many other characters with brilliant and fleshed out backstories.

Aside from the missions that usually take an episode to be finished, there are also plots that take several episodes (but I promise I will not spoil anything!). Also, the show is chock full of references not only to Spanish History but our popular culture (for example, in episode two, in a sort of duel of wits with theatre author Lope de Vega, Julián quotes Leño, which is a very famous rock band here, and there is a running joke of the cameo of a tv show host called Jordi Hurtado- a real show host famous here for having hosted the same contest for 20 years and not ageing ) so it'll end up being a crash course of everything Spain.


Language/Region: Japanese/Japan.

Title/Year: 君の名は (kimi no na wa)/Your Name (2016)

Genres: Anime (more of a style than a genre, though), drama, some comedy.

A summary avoiding as many spoilers as possible would be: a story about a high school girl living in a small, rural village in Gifu Prefecture who has strange encounters with a high school boy from Tokyo. (It's really hard to talk about the main premise without getting a little spoiler-ish. Suffice it to say, it's way more interesting than I made it sound)

Note: It's actually a movie, not a TV show, but I couldn't leave it out. It was a mega smash hit in Japan, is the second highest grossing domestic film in Japanese history (after Spirited Away), won/was nominated for tons of awards, and is one of my all-time favorites.


I LOVE watching TV to learn a language. It helps so much!

Language/Region: German/Germany
Title: Tatort (1970 - Present)
Genre: Criminal Procedural

Summary: This is the longest running show in Germany and it's kind of a tradition for lots of people to gather the whole family and watch Tatort on sunday night. It's not always the same people, but a rotation of different teams in different cities, with each team solving about 1-3 cases a year. Every episode is 90 minutes long and has a self-contained storyline.

I especially recommend watching the cases of Thiel and Boerne (played by Axel Prahl and Jan Josef Liefers). They are set in Münster, a region without a strong dialect and they are the most beloved team by the public. Thiel is a detective, with a pot-smoking taxi driving dad and lives in the same house as his colleague Professor Boerne, the forensic examiner, who thinks he's better than everyone, is a bit pedantic and insists on his academic title. There's a lot of witty banter between the unlikely pair and it's fun to watch. They are on Tatort since 2002.

Also mostly without dialect would be cases in Niedersachsen with Lindholm, Köln with Ballauf and Schenk or Bremen with Lürsen and Stedefreund.

Maybe some of you would like the episodes with Til Schweiger (as Tschiller) set in Hamburg. He is not as well liked in Germany and the episodes have been called "too American", because the faster pacing, more action instead of the more realistic but sometimes anti-climatic detective work (we just don't use guns that often, even the police doesn't), remind people of the shows and movies we get from overseas. But if you don't like the "more German" episodes, maybe these might be more your cup of tea.

  • Language/Region (of Origin): Spanish/Spain
  • Title/Year: Isabel (2011-2014)
  • Genre(s): Historical, Biopic

The three seasons of this show narrate the whole reign of Isabella the Catholic, from her entrance in the court of her half-brother Henry IV and her ascent to the throne to her death. It was probably the first historical series done with this massive scope in Spain and it turned out to be a huge success even if TVE would not air it at first thinking it would flop.

It has brilliant writing, actors who give amazing performances (really watch out for Michelle Jenner as Isabella and Ramón Madaula as her mentor, Gonzalo Chacón, and Irene Escolar as her daughter Juana. These are only three examples of the super top quality acting in this show), and the costumes are to die for.

It was followed by a movie about Juana I "The Mad" called "La Corona Partida" (The Broken Crown) and a 1 season series about Charles I "Carlos, Rey Emperador", both of which had less success than Isabel but are also highly recommendable.

(Also, fun note for those who might end up watching both this and El Ministerio del Tiempo. Rodolfo Sancho plays both Ferdinand the Catholic here and Julián in El Ministerio. And why yes, you'll find plenty of jokes about it)


In celebration of Chinese hatching in the incubator, I'll start with:

Language/Region: Mandarin Chinese / China
Title/Year: 琅琊榜 (Lángyá Bǎng) / Nirvana In Fire (2015)
Genre(s): wuxia, historical drama, political intrigue
Blurb: The son of a dishonored clan plots to right past wrongs and to help a virtuous, but disfavored, prince ascend the throne. Monte Cristo meets ancient China (with some fantastical elements). The show starts off slowly but really picks up in later episodes. Some language is stylized to be more antiquated than modern speech.

Based on a popular Chinese web novel of the same name, this 54 episode drama won dozens of awards and has hit over 6 billion overall views online. The second season, produced by the same team but starring a new cast, is tentatively set for broadcast in November 2017.


Language/Region: German/Germany
Title: Der Club der roten Bänder (2015 - third and last season starting November 2017)
Genre: Drama (Teen, Medical)

Summary German version of the Spanish Polseres vermelles, which was also adapted in the US as Red Band Society. It's waaay better than the US version (didn't watch the Spanish original, though).

It's about teenagers and their lives in a hospital. When you hear that it sounds a lot more depressing than it really is. Despite them struggling with cancer, eating disorder or heart disease, it's a story of hope and friendship. You might cry, yes, but you will also laugh with them and just smile.

It's well acted and won the German Television Award (Deutscher Fernsehpreis) for best series the past two years.


Language/Region (of Origin): Japanese/Japan

Title/Year: Bleach- 2006

Genre(s): Action, adventure, supernatural, shinigami (god of death or death reaper), Anime

  • (This show has a lot, and I mean a lot of arcs within the main story, so I'll just give the simplified overview) A 15-year old boy named Kurosaki Ichigo has the ability to see the dead. He encounters a Hollow, a monstrous spirit, along with a Shinigami called Rukia Kuchiki who becomes hurt in a battle. Ichigo becomes a Substitue Soul Reaper when Rukia gives him her power, and this leads to his adventures of protecting the world of the living, as well as the spirit world (the Soul Society).

  • Despite this show taking place in a fictional Japanese, the environment, as well as the style of clothing of the characters, are heavily western-influenced. Bleach has about 366 episodes (of which I watched all of them) and four animated movies. The television series is based on a manga (Japanese comic) by Tite Kubo with the same title. It is considered the "Big 3" of most popular Anime, including One Piece and Naruto. Lastly, the music is composed by my favorite Japanese composer Shiro Sagisu, who is popular in doing the music of other popular shows.

(On a side note, despite what others say, the English dub of this Anime is very good and the dubs have extended to many other languages, too.)


Language/Region: Spanish/Spain

Title: Gran Hotel (2011-2012)

Genre: Mystery, Drama

Summary: The events take place in 1905 in Spain, near a town called Cantaloa. The working-class Julio Olmedo arrives at the luxurious Grand Hotel to visit his sister Cristina, who works there as a maid and who has recently been promoted to floor manager. Julio is told by a waiter that Cristina was fired for theft a month before, a story Julio does not believe. He is convinced something happened to her at the hotel and there was a coverup. He takes a job there as a waiter as Julio Espinosa to investigate his sister's disappearance. He soon finds an ally in Alicia Alarcón, one of the daughters of hotel owner Doña Teresa. Alicia, who is being forced to marry hotel manager Diego Murquía, is also suspicious of things happening at the hotel. Together Julio and Alicia work to uncover the secrets of the Grand Hotel.

Note: This was also remade as "El hotel de los secretos" by a Mexican production company. The original is better but I'm still watching the remake too for language practice.

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