17 Foreign Shows Better Than Anything On American TV

Looking for something a little different to watch on TV? These foreign series are way better than anything on American television.

It's that rare time of the year when there is hardly anything on American television. Most summer series are coming up on their season finales and the fall television season hasn't started yet. But never fear, because there are other shows out there that can satisfy your every entertainment need.

American television offers up some great entertainment, but there is also a whole new world of foreign television shows out there that blow many American series out of the water. And thanks to the magic of the Internet and the rise of streaming subscription services, those series are now available, some for the first time, on this side of the pond.

These shows include everything American audiences generally crave: horror, thrillers, crime dramas, comedies, and period dramas - a little something for everyone.

Obviously, shows like Doctor Who and Broadchurch already have a following in the U.S., so they're not on the list. Instead, the focus here is on those series that TV viewers may not already know about: those little gems that often get overlooked. These are the shows that will get you binge-watching and coming back for more.

Here are 18 Foreign Shows Better Than Anything On American TV.

17 The Fades (UK)

The Fades

Available on: Hulu

The Fades is about a teenage boy named Paul who suddenly starts having apocalyptic visions where he begins to see spirits; the dead who have not yet crossed over or, as the show calls it, "ascended." Paul soon learns that this is because the doorways for spirits to move on through are disappearing, leaving behind restless souls to haunt the earth. Those spirits become angry at mankind, with some mutating to become partly human again, allowing them to take revenge on the living.

Although this supernatural thriller won a BAFTA in 2012 for best drama series, it still only got one season. However, it's definitely worth a watch, especially for fans of the supernatural and horror genres. Also, Iain De Caestecker of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Joe Dempsie and Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) star.

16 Les Revenants (France)

Les Revenants

Available on: Netflix

What would happen if the dead began to mysteriously come back to life? That's the question asked in Les Revenants (The Returned), which begins with the story of a young girl, Camille, killed in a school bus crash who returns from the dead to show up at her family's house several years later. Others follow after Camille, miraculously coming back from the dead, intent on returning to the lives they led before.

Where did they come from? And why is their return plagued with a strange change in the town's reservoir and power outage problems? What are those strange marks appearing on some of the townspeople's bodies?

Although this series got an American remake, the original French version remains the better series: its creepy pacing and deliberate style of storytelling makes viewers want to know more with each episode.

15 Hotel Beau Sejour (Belgium)

Hotel Beau Sejour

Available on: Netflix

The town of Lanklaar seems quiet, at least until Belgian teenager Kato wakes up in a bathtub at the Hotel Beau Sejour, where she discovers a dead body. This body is hers, and it seems that Kato was the victim of a murder.

What's even more interesting is that those people who last saw Kato alive can see her ghost, including some that harbored ill intent towards her. Kato has no memory of the night of her murder, so she must work with those who can see her, as well as those who can't, to discover the truth of what happened and why.

Hotel Beau Sejour features a lot of intrigue, mixed up a little with supernatural elements, but ultimately, it's a "whodunnit" story at its heart.

14 Glitch (Australia)


Available on: Netflix

It seems that the idea of the dead returning back to life is a trend on international television, because Glitch is another show about people mysteriously coming back from the dead. This import from Australia follows a small town police officer who soon discovers that dead people are literally crawling out of their graves to return to the land of the living. One of those people is his wife, which causes some problems for him as he has a new wife with a baby on the way.

As he and the once-dead work to discover why they've returned and why they are unable to leave their town, they also must deal with the people they left behind. Considering that the previous dead have few memories of their life from before, that's a challenge.

13 Poldark (UK)


Available on: PBS and Amazon Prime

For those viewers who crave period dramas, Poldark is about as period and drama as it gets. The story follows Russ Poldark, a British soldier just returning home after the American Revolutionary War. However, after his return, he soon discovers that his family thought that he was dead, killed in battle, and his fiancee now has plans to marry his cousin. How's that for drama?

Ross doesn't interfere with the wedding plans but instead focuses himself on restoring the family's mines, reputation, and fortune. This has him constantly butting heads with others.

Starring Aidan Turner (The Hobbit, Being Human), the series is a classic British drama, with lots of twists and turns in its storytelling. There are currently three seasons, with a fourth season on its way.

12 Cleverman (Australia)


Available on: Netflix

This Australian series focuses on some of the prejudices that occur with the Aboriginal population, although it imagines it in a more dystopian future. In Cleverman, many of the aboriginals are Hairypeople, or "Hairies," a mutated group of people with super strength and hair all over their bodies. Because they are feared, they are treated as second-class citizens, with many being unfairly imprisoned and killed.

The series follows two brothers fighting over the "Cleverman" title, which comes with a mystical power that passes down from generation to generation, as they cope living in a highly conflicted world. The show's writing combines these very real modern day issues with a supernatural story that proves compelling from beginning to end. The series recently got picked up for a second season.

11 Crazy Head (UK)


Available on: Netflix

What do you get when you cross the UK's Misfits with Buffy the Vampire Slayer? It's likely to look a lot like Crazyhead, a British import that combines the supernatural with comedy in a very satisfying and hilarious way.

The show follows Amy, a woman who works at a bowling alley. Amy finds out that she is a seer; someone who can see the demons that live among humans. When a demon attacks her, she gets rescued by another seer, Raquel, who fills her in on what's going on. The two become a demon-hunting team, sort of like Buffy. But this all happens with the irreverent humor of Misfits, so it's a must-see.

It's also an easy binge-watch: there are only six episodes in the first and only season.

10 3% (Brazil)


Available on: Netflix

Imagine this: it's the future and the world gets divided into two sides: the haves and have nots. That sounds almost like reality, right? But in the Brazilian series, 3%, the story is more than that.

Part of the world is devastated, where people live in poverty and desolation. The other side, though, is nearly heaven, progressive and affluent. However, every year, each 20-year-old in the poverty-stricken area has a chance to move over to the other side, but must pass a series of tests called "The Process." These tests are difficult, and in the end, only 3% ever actually succeed.

The series follows a group of young people as they try to pass these tests and make a better life for themselves. This is another easy binge-watch, with only eight episodes.

9 Nine Time Travels (South Korea)

Nine Time Travels

Available on: Netflix

Nine Times Travel is the series for viewers who like their science fiction with a side of romance. The show follows a man who finds nine incense sticks that have the magical power of transporting him through time, 20 years into the past. He does so, in an attempt to keep his family safe and make things better for them, but his actions in the past affect what happens in the future, not just in the world, but also in his personal life.

This Korean drama intertwines romance into the time travel, keeping viewers wondering what happens next. In 2013, reports surfaced that an American remake was on its way, but there have been no updates on that since then. So watch the original on Netflix now, while you can.

8 The Almighty Johnsons (New Zealand)

The Almighty Johnsons

Available on: Netflix

What if the gods were just ordinary blokes living ordinary lives, just biding their time until they came back into power? This is the world thrust upon Axl Johnson, who learns upon his 18th birthday that he's really a mortal version of the Norse god Odin. Axl soon learns that his destiny lies with finding the human version of Frigg so that they can hook up and bring their power back the gods and the world.

The gods soon discover that there are others who really don't want that to happen - namely the mortal versions of the Norse goddesses who want to find Frigg first to prevent them from becoming powerful again. Think American Gods, but a lot funnier (and with less brutal violence), and that's The Almighty Johnsons.

7 The Bletchley Circle (UK)

The Bletchley Circle

Available on: PBS and Netflix

During World War II, there was a group of women who worked as codebreakers for the British military and helped decipher German military codes. The Bletchley Circle, though, picks up seven years after the war, after these women returned to their daily domestic lives, with their families none the wiser about their secret wartime activities.

When a series of murders begin to happen in the London area, one of those former codebreakers starts to see a pattern. She reaches out to her former fellow co-workers after the police refuse to hear her out. The series follows these women as they try to solve the murders, while keeping their activities secret from their husbands and families, acting under the premise that they have joined a book club.

6 The Code (Australia)

The Code

Available on: Netflix

The Code begins with a mysterious car accident that happens in the outback of Australia, recorded by an internet journalist, Ned. After the accident, there's a cover-up that eventually unveils a secret research project. Ned and his hacker brother begin to uncover the truth, revealing big money and an organized effort to silence and hurt people along the way.

The series follows the brothers, as well as a teacher and policeman, eventually finding its way to the Deputy Prime Minister and political staffers. There are currently two seasons, available, with the second season following a murder investigation, with the only survivor being involved with a "dark web" site.

The series has a heavy hitting cast, too, including Lucy Lawless (Xena herself!), Ashley Zukerman, and David Wenham (Lord of the Rings, Iron Fist).

5 Occupied (Norway)


Available on: Netflix

Imagine this: it's the near-future, and Russia, with full EU support, now occupies Norway so that it can help the country restore its oil and gas production. But Norway's Green Party comes into power and wants to stop both the occupation and the production of oil and gas.

Okkupert (or Occupied, in English) examines this situation as a political thriller of a Europe confronting an energy crisis, without any help from the U.S., who now has energy independence and has withdrawn from NATO. This series features a lot of political intrigue, as well as asks the question "what if?" It's corporations against governments against individuals in this free-for-all tale of a country beginning to spiral out of control.

There are currently two seasons available.

4 Call The Midwife (UK)

Call The Midwife

Available on: PBS and Netflix

Call The Midwife is a period drama that takes place in London shortly after World War II. It follows the lives of the midwives who work for Nonnatus House, a nursing convent. These women take care of a poor section of the city, not just delivering babies, but also helping those who are too sick and poor to help themselves.

These women are characters that viewers will find themselves invested in because the series follows their lives as they struggle with the duties that come with their jobs, the ups and downs, the lives lost and gained.

For those looking to binge-watch, though, don't forget the tissues: each episode comes with its share of happy and sad tears. This is a current series, with six seasons now available and a seventh on the way.

3 The Missing (UK)

The Missing

Available on: Starz

The Missing is a UK television series that partnered with the American Starz to bring a drama about missing children to the world. The first season begins with a family on vacation. After their car breaks down in France, they must spend the night in a small town there. At some point during that night, their five-year-old goes missing. Eight years pass, and the boy is never found. But the father sees a photograph of a boy wearing the same scarf as his son, something with a unique insignia on it. He convinces police to reopen the case.

The second season follows another missing child, but with the same amount of thrills and mysterious revelations. The series features James Nesbitt, Frances O'Connor, David Morrissey, and Keeley Hawes.

2 Atelier (Japan)


Available on: Netflix

Imagine if The Devil Wears Prada was Japanese. That's basically the premise of Atelier, which follows a young Japanese country girl fresh out of college who gets a job at a luxury lingerie company. Although she studied textiles, she soon begins to learn her way around the world of making nice underwear. But she still has to deal with the company's founder and owner, a woman who the series modeled after Vogue's Anna Wintour. Obviously, the two women are often at odds, much like Andy and Miranda the aforementioned film.

It's a fun series that can get a little silly (really, just how important is underwear?), but it's always entertaining, especially for fans of fashion and drama. This series was a Netflix Japan exclusive, but fortunately, it's available pretty much worldwide, too.

1 Cable Girls (Spain)

Cable Girls

Available on: Netflix

In 1928, people were just started getting interested in having telephones in their homes and businesses. In Cable Girls, this is when the city of Madrid in Spain decides to open its first telecommunications company, which hires women to work their phone lines. The show follows the lives of these women, some who are trying to escape their pasts (two characters started out as prostitutes), as they struggle to make it in what is still, essentially, a man's world.

The show, also has a strong feminist message and even covers topics such as domestic violence, independence, and how a woman can make a place in the world. The first season is available now exclusively on Netflix, with at least two more seasons to follow.


Are you interested in any of these shows? Which foreign shows do you love? Let us know in the comments!

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