Germany has a fantastic cinematic history that, in my opinion, is unparalleled anywhere else. Naturally dark and chaotic, but amazing at keeping their cool, these are some of the best Netflix shows from Germany, and it’s high time Americans started appreciating them. Thankfully, Netflix has sealed any cultural gaps that have been left open with their overstock of international shows and films. Besides, what else are you going to be doing these days? These are the best Netflix shows from Germany that you should be paying attention to. Grab some riesling and gear up for dark family secrets, murder, Berlin flappers, and time travel down some rabbit holes.
1. Dark (2017)
One of the best Netflix shows from Germany, “Dark” is a time-hopping thriller that is one of the most successful international series to date. For me, “Dark” moved rather slowly in the beginning, but I gave it another chance and didn’t regret it. “Dark” begins with an intro that may shock you (trigger warning) followed by the disappearance of a local boy in the fictional town of Winden.
The twisting plot and the potentially damning decisions made by the characters will have you wondering about the many “what-ifs” of our universe and how we’re all interconnected with no real control over our destinies—let alone the ability to change them.
2. Barbarians (2020)
I really appreciate Germany’s sad, tragic, colorful history (looking beyond WWI & II) and it’s nice to see a show focusing on other parts of its past. The basic plot of “Barbarians” is the Roman invasion of Germanian tribal lands, splitting the tribes between those willing to keep the peace and others ferociously fighting for their freedom.
Protagonists Arminius and Thusnelda are childhood friends separated when Arminius’s father exchanged him with the Romans for peace. Arminius grows up, receives a Roman education, and enters the Roman Imperial Army. All of which places him in a precarious position between Rome and Germania.
Meanwhile, Thusnelda turns from a free-spirited young woman to a hardcore warrior queen and prophet after one of the Romans injures her younger brother, causing him to become permanently brain-damaged. As a result, Thusnelda is a wicked force to be reckoned with. Grab your strongest beer and gear-up for this action-packed series.
3. Babylon Berlin (2017)
Though the time period of this noir drama teeters on the edge of Hitler’s uprising and that of the National Socialist German Worker’s (Nazi) Party, this is hardly the main focus of “Babylon Berlin.” The main protagonists at the core of the story are police inspector Gereon Rath and Charlotte Ritter, a working temp aspiring to be an inspector who moonlights as a flapper (and a whole lot more) in Berlin cabarets.
This show does anything but glorify law enforcement, focusing its microscope on German police brutality, corruption, and the Weimar Republic’s blind eye to systematic inequality. Which, historically leads its population tragically voting in the Nazi party. . . and we all know how well that goes. Take heed America, nothing conjures up good drama like history. (Can we get a gin fizz?)
4. Biohackers (2020)
Biohackers is a fast-paced thriller that follows the central character, Mia, a medical student at a prestigious university whose underlying goal is to cozy up to her professor and try to solve the riddle of her twin brother’s death. While involved with illegal genetic experiments, Mia finds that her professor hides a troubling secret. “Biohackers” is a master of cliff-hangers and slow (but thrilling) pacers, but it’s worth having some patience for this jarring, tech-savvy series.
*See the English trailer here.
5. Holiday Secrets (Zeit der Geheimnisse) (2019)
Let’s be honest, the holidays are a stressful time of the year and for some—Christmas, in particular—is an all-out bummer. And oftentimes, it’s stress brought on by your family getting up in your business: When are you getting married? Having kids? Clock’s ticking! Add a pinch of family secrets and you’re suddenly in for a “need wine now” evening. This German mini-series uses a Christmas reunion as the jumping-off point for the women in the family uncovering some troubling family secrets, each of them trying to navigate the complexities these secrets reveal while unraveling family relationships in the process. It is that time of year, after all.
*Check out the English trailer here!
Need some more Netflix and chill ideas? Check out 5 Mind-Blowing Documentaries on Netflix That Are Worth the Watch.