Stream yourself smartly: these international top series are good for your language skills | Showbiz

TVIs one of your resolutions for 2023 to learn a new language? What if we told you that you can both relax and at the same time stimulate the language center in your brain just by watching TV in another language? From a Korean-Japanese immersion in ‘Pachinko’ on Apple TV+ to Interwar German in ‘Babylon Berlin’ on Streamz, it’s time to turn that binge into something useful!

‘Babylon Berlin’ (Streamz)

We turn back almost 100 years, to a time when the decadence of Berlin’s nightlife stands in stark contrast to the rising poverty and threat of violence from the rising Nazis. This TV series about the Weimar Republic in 1929 provides the ideal stage for brushing up on your German, while also brushing up on an important piece of inter-war history. Co-created by Tom Tykwer and based on the books by Volker Kutscher, the award-winning series follows the roaring twenties through the eyes of a young Cologne commissioner and a young stenographer aspiring to become a police inspector. While the fourth season has only just been added on Streamz, the fifth is already in development. And it may not stop there, because Tykwer has big plans to stretch Germany’s most expensive series for a few more years.

Pachinko (Apple TV+)

Speaking of budget, one of the most eye-catching series that saw the light of day this year is undeniably ‘Pachinko’. In it, we follow Kim Sunja from her birth against the backdrop of a Japanese-occupied Korea at the turn of the last century to her old age in prosperous Japan in the 1980s. The series shows how one family endured some tough moments in history and how they shaped them, while the term ‘pachinko’ refers to the popular Japanese slot machines operated by Koreans to escape poverty. The series may have a confusing timeline at times – and unlike the book – but in terms of language it does lend a hand by subtitling the Japanese dialogues in blue and highlighting the Korean ones in yellow.

‘Clark’ (Netflix)

None other than Clark Olofsson is your Swedish teacher for today. Not only did this controversial criminal turn the well-known stockholm syndrome into a thing, Sweden’s most notorious gangster actually has a Belgian connection. In between the bank robberies, he fell in love with a Flemish beauty, went into hiding in our country for years and became the father of three sons here. The series presents the truths and lies of Olofsson in a flashy fun package of six episodes. Because the series takes place between the 1960s and the 1980s, it is a guaranteed wardrobe spectacle and visually distorted fast in nature.

‘Tehran’ (Apple TV+)

If Glenn Close can learn Farsi, so can you. Her role as a CIA agent in the second season of this Emmy-winning Israeli spy thriller saw the ‘Fatal Attraction’ star say she had to do some serious cleaning. Not only the language was new, the multilingual cast and the many location recordings were also quite a living for Close. Although this series, which brings the conflict between Israel and Iran to your living room in an exciting way, also features English dialogue, most of it is spoken in Hebrew and Farsi. Striking: the scenes in Tehran were shot in Athens for creative and security reasons, where the Iranian capital was impressively recreated.

‘Los Espookys’ (Streamz)

By now you know how to set up a bank robbery in Spanish courtesy of ‘La casa de papel’, but if you want to run a business in fake ghost parties, fake exorcisms and staged monster attacks, ‘Los Espookys’ is your handbook. Co-created by actor, comedian and “Saturday Night Live” star Fred Armisen, this Spanish-language HBO comedy series centers on a group of friends in an unnamed Latin American country who seek to turn their love of horror into a successful business. Their job is to stage horror-like situations for customers who pay them handsomely for it. This bizarre yet brilliant series received critical acclaim for its first season and returned this year after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, for part two.

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