Broadening Your TV Show Horizons

Let’s talk TV.

I am not here to tell you to watch less TV; if anything, I am here to tell you to watch more. Well, maybe not more, but at least different TV. If I were to take a poll, I bet that most of you only watch American TV, exclusively in English. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great American shows out there! But I think you’re missing out if you limit yourself to those shows. There are so many television shows made throughout the world that are dramatic, funny, and romantic...and might require you to use subtitles.

The idea of subtitles is unappealing to some people. Some think it distracts them from the show or that reading the subtitles is too much work. But, by limiting yourself to shows that are exclusively in English, you are limiting yourself to a specific cultural and artistic point of view. From my own experience, having to read subtitles is totally worth it when you find a great show.

My love for non-American television shows began when my sister introduced me to the British shows Doctor Who and Skins. Although these shows are in English, they gave me an insight into the British culture I’d never had access to before. At first I didn’t understand some cultural references and sometimes I had no idea what the characters were saying (like when they talked too fast or if their accent was too strong). But I fell in love with these characters and their environment and felt my global perspective widen. Since then, I have branched out to shows that are based in other countries around the world like Norway, Spain, and Turkey.

When people ask me what my favorite TV show is, it is never an American show that comes to my mind first, because those are not the ones that have had the biggest impact on my life.I am constantly telling my friends about all the unique shows I’ve been watching and wanted to share them with you too, mostly because my friends are sick of hearing me talk about them.

 

My Current Favorites:

 

Skam (Norway)

This show is one of my favorite shows ever. It follows the lives of four Norwegian teenagers as they discover themselves. Who doesn’t love a good coming-of-age story? The show touches on so many important social topics like sexuality, religion, body image, and mental health. Also, the soundtrack is unreal.

 

Erkenci Kuş (Turkey)

This show follows a young adult named Sanem navigating her first real job. She is very quirky and clumsy and so relatable. The show is really funny and has some romance, which is totally my vibe (#hopelessromantic). But if that’s not enough for you, Turkish people are just plain gorgeous.

 

La Casa de Papel (Spain)

This show is for all the folks that love a good crime drama. A group of criminals, who all have nicknames that are big cities (examples: Tokyo, Rio, Denver, etc.), break into a bank to steal a ton of money. That description really doesn’t do it justice, but you get the point-- it’s great.

 

Even though some of these shows can be found dubbed in English, I encourage you to listen to them in their original language. By doing this you will become more immersed in that culture and the story itself. While there are many cultural differences I notice when watching these shows, I also notice common conflicts and relationship dynamics I experience in my own American life. These commonalities I have found make me feel more connected to the characters and, through that, the cultures they come from.

People at first might think it’s weird that your favorite show is in Norwegian, but that just gives you an opportunity to explain how awesome and important is it to open yourself up to the world around you. Eventually your roommate will get used to hearing unexpected languages coming from your laptop. Maybe you’ll eventually hear unexpected languages coming from their laptop too!