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Foreign Television

| Thursday, November 20, 2014

foreign-webSusan Zhu | The Observer
British television has made quite the appearance in the States for the last couple years. With shows like “Sherlock” and “Downtown Abbey” dominating headlines, it’s certainly driven people to look outside of the U.S. for their TV-watching habits. With services like Netflix and Hulu, it is also easier to access these shows than it ever has been before.

Still, there are quite a number of quality foreign TV shows that don’t get quite the amount of attention that “Sherlock” and “Downtown Abbey” have gotten in recent years. Here are a list of some of the best that are easily available online (admittedly, they are all British or Irish, as Netflix isn’t great on its offerings of TV shows in other languages).

“Call the Midwife”

Coming from the same people who created “Downtown Abbey,” “Call the Midwife” follows the lives of midwives in 1950s London. The main character, Jenny Lee, is new to the scene and not quite prepared for the harsh realities of working in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city. This show is for people who love “Downtown Abbey” and hospital dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy” or “House.” It’s a bit of a mix of all three.


I like to think of this show as similar to “Breaking Bad,” but I have to admit, I’ve never watched an episode of “Breaking Bad.” The show follows the lives of gangsters in modern day Dublin and is hugely popular among young people in Ireland. It’s a little bit violent at times and definitely not for those who are squeamish. It’s just finished its fourth season and while no longer available on Netflix, it is on Hulu.

“Skins” (UK Version)

MTV tried to make a remake of this show in the United States but for some reason, it didn’t really work all that well. The show’s first six seasons follow the lives of three consecutive classes of teenagers doing their A-levels in Bristol, all of which are available on Netflix. The first two seasons stars Nicholas Hoult (a.k.a. Hank McCoy in “X-Men: First Class,” the zombie love interest in “Warm Bodies” and Jennifer Lawrence’s ex-boyfriend). The show during this time is undoubtedly the best, but seasons three and four are still worth watching — after all, Kaya Scodelario (a.k.a. Teresa in “The Maze Runner”) is brilliant and plays a key role linking the two generations.

BBC “Pride and Prejudice”

Like “Sherlock,” the episodes are rather long but definitely worth watching. The Keira Knightley movie version is fun but kind of strange and unrealistic in a lot of ways (will we ever understand why she chooses to wander out into that field in the early morning hours?). The BBC TV series follows Jane Austen’s original storyline more closely and will easily please the most avid Austen-ite. It’s on Netflix and a fun show to watch when you’re looking for something but aren’t really willing to trust the unknown storylines of about half the Netflix offerings. Plus the TV show stars Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy — spawning the equally amusing “Bridget Jones” series.

“An Bronntanas”

Technically, this is a movie but TG4 (the Irish language television network) has broken it down into five parts and premiered it as a television show over the last couple weeks. It is one of the only full-length movies ever made in Irish but that’s not what makes it fun to watch. Once again, I’ve heard it’s somewhat similar to “Breaking Bad” but I can’t confirm that fact. It follows the lives of two brothers who are forced to reunite after their father’s death. The younger brother returns from Canada and takes over the family’s failing factory. It’s on TG4’s website and plays with English subtitles.

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About Caelin Miltko

I am a senior English and Irish language major, with a minor in Journalism. I spent the last year abroad in Dublin, Ireland and am currently a Walsh RA living in Pangborn.

Contact Caelin