We all know that there is no better way to learn a language than through immersion. And one of the best ways to do that – without leaving your own home, at least! – is to watch TV series and films in your target language.
If you’re already proficient, you might not need the subtitles at all. If you’re just starting out, why not keep the subtitles in English because you’ll still get a feel for the rhythm and sounds of the language. And if you’ve already got some Spanish, you could keep the Spanish subtitles on so that you can improve your vocabulary as you watch. Of course, the most important thing is to find a series that will keep you hooked, so you can soak up the Spanish language from the comfort of your sofa.
So, get your remote ready! We’ve come up with some of our favourite TV shows to learn Spanish, including some you might have heard of – and others that you might not. Comedy, thriller, mystery, prison drama – we’ve got the lot! Happy viewing! (And happy learning, too!)
Vis a Vis (Locked Up)
Hello, you might think, a Netflix original series set in a prison – surely this is a Spanish version of Orange is the New Black? Nope, not at all! Vis a Vis shares only the starting premise of OITNB – it is set in a woman-only prison – but this is no dramedy. Instead, it’s an intense, action-packed drama which focuses on naïve Macarena, who ends up in prison after being manipulated by her married boyfriend and has to learn to survive among the other inmates. There are flashes of very dark humour, plenty of gritty drama and outstanding acting from the ensemble cast.
A romantic thriller set in Madrid, this features two women who rekindle their friendship after many years despite the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something the other envies. One of them is director of a fancy university while the other had to put her career ambitions on hold. One is wealthy and one is not. One is happily married – the other not so much. And one of them ends up dead. The storyline featuring the women, their families and the mysterious goings-on at the university is spliced with straight-to-camera conversations with supporting characters, including a grizzled detective, who gradually unravel the tangled relationships and dark secrets that culminate in murder.
Four female friends, one of whom is a writer, are making their way and finding love in the big city. Sounds familiar, right? Sometimes described as the Spanish answer to Sex and the City, Valeria is an enjoyable and light-hearted celebration of female friendship, based on the novels by Elísabet Benevent. The big city in this instance is Madrid, where the four women are regularly to be found drinking on gorgeous terraces with stunning views. So, you can brush up your Spanish and do a little virtual sightseeing from the comfort of home!
La casa de papel (Money Heist)
One of the biggest Spanish hits of recent years, La casa de papel (Money Heist in English) won the International Emmy in 2018 for best drama series. It’s also the most-watched non-English language show on streaming giant, Netflix. A motley group of thieves led by a mysterious figure known as the Professor carry out an elaborate heist in Spain’s Royal Mint of Spain, hoping to get away with €2.6 billion. The twists and turns, unusual storyline, unreliable narrator and edge-of-your-seat cliffhangers make this cult hit a real rollercoaster ride.
This raunchy teen drama set in an exclusive private school has been another massive international hit for Netflix. Three working-class students are enrolled in the élite Las Encinas school and the culture clash with the entitled, affluent other students causes considerable drama – culminating in murder. However, there is more to this show than the usual romance, backbiting and jealousy (although there is plenty of that, too). It’s not afraid to broach serious themes including LGBTQ+ acceptance, Islamophobia, consent and much more.
What do you do if you’re a talent agency and your biggest client drops you? Paquitas Salas was at the top of her game in the 1990s but things have gone downhill since then. When she and her little team – secretary Magüi and handyman Álex – are forced to find new ways to reinvent the talent agency and recruit new clients, comedy ensues. This is a fun, hugely enjoyable series with a talented cast that has won several awards, including best comedy series in the Premios Feroz (Spain’s answer to the Golden Globe Awards).
La Víctima Número 8 (Victim Number 8)
This is another, fantastic edge-of-your-seat thriller which will keep you guessing until the last minute of the series! Set in Bilbao, the plot centres on a jihadi bombing which kills seven people and injures many more. Omar Jamaal, a Moroccan immigrant, is identified as the bomber and a police hunt gets under way. However, when another victim dies it becomes increasingly apparent that a wealthy business owner and his family are somehow implicated in this murky and far-reaching conspiracy. Is Omar being framed? Or did he carry out the bombing?
We hope you enjoy these fantastic TV shows as much as we do! Check out our blog here for more great tips on learning Spanish fast!