I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I grew up on a healthy pop-culture diet of Japanese martial arts movies and Italian-made “spaghetti westerns,” thanks to my dad’s affinity for both. I absolutely hated them for one specific reason: the dubbing. The process, with the dissonance between the movement of character's mouths and words they’re supposedly saying, is mildly irritating at best, and infuriatingly distracting at worst.
So, when I watch international imports these days, it’s subtitles all the way. It’s more work, but unquestionably worth it. And, as Netflix continues to buy the rights to foreign language gems or create their own international original series, it has become clear many of the best shows in the digital world are worth the effort of reading lines of dialogue for hours on end. In fact, these series can be even more rewarding than their English-language counterparts.
Think about it: You can scroll through Twitter and text friends while watching even the most difficult-to-comprehend American-made series (looking at you, Westworld), but the same can’t be said for a show you’re watching in a language you don’t understand. If a viewer looks away for even a second, it’s highly likely they’ll miss some essential piece of information.
And, to top it all off, many of these foreign-language series are simply more compelling than 95% of American TV. They’re full of obscure mysteries, shocking twists, and creative concepts. So, we put together this handy guide to the best international original series on everyone’s favorite streaming giant, Netflix. Get ready to lose yourself in subtitles (yes, it really can happen!).