Watching TV shows and films in a different language is the most effective and practical way of learning that language. RM from BTS confirmed this by talking about how he managed to learn English by just watching the highly popular show Friends.
If you are a native Spanish speaker and absolutely despise the English-dominated world of cinema, fret not! Netflix has a wide range of documentaries made in the Spanish language made for you to relish and enjoy. If you have just started learning Spanish, and are worried about never mastering the accent, fret not! The best way for you to catch up with the nuances of the language is to watch various Spanish series and films that might help you enhance your vocabulary and pronunciation.
Over the last few years, Spanish television series have evolved drastically. While they are mainly set in Spain, Mexico and occasionally the United States, these series have become a global sensation, thanks to Netflix’s love for variety shows.
While they are usually telenovelas, quintessential to Spanish productions, they also feature strong female leads and are brutal commentaries on the pervading corruption, casual racism and sexism, homophobia and transphobia, rampant drug abuse and tumultuous political strife plaguing the Spanish and Mexican society. They also provide a closer look into family structures, love, relationships and more and often subvert stereotypes, making one question their values and morals.
To get a better understanding of Spanish telenovelas as well as to hone your language skills, check out the 10 best Netflix series in Spanish right now:
10 best Spanish series on Netflix right now
10. Cable Girls (Ramon Campos, Gema R. Neira, 2017-2020)
Four women in 1920s Spain join a telecommunications company to gain independence via financial freedom. They have their own problems that push them towards taking the step and the series abounds in healthy female friendships as well as the problems that plagued 1920s Spain and exposed the condition of working women during those times.
Unlike other series where women are usually at each other’s throats, this film is a sentimental unfolding of female relationships as well as the idea of financial freedom eventually leading to a woman reclaiming her agency over her body.
With stellar casting and amazing production, one could only wish had the music been more appropriate and researched.
9. Luis Miguel (Humberto Hinojosa, Natalia Beristain, 2018-)
A highly gifted and family-oriented guy named Micky becomes a singing sensation in Mexico. Micky, who is pressurised to become a superstar by his father due to the latter’s failure, grows up with the alias of Luis Miguel, going on to become the Sun of Mexico. However, soon fame is followed by disillusionment as well as lopsided effects on Miguel’s personal and professional relationships.
The series focuses on Miguel’s life and gives a close insight into the spiritual and physical journey of the superstar, both literally and metaphorically. Set in the ’80s, this Spanish show is acclaimed for its beautiful exploration of fame, fortune, success and subsequent downfall of one of the most mysterious Mexican icons.
8. Green Frontier (Diego RamirezSchrempp, Mauricio Leiva-Cock, Jenny Ceballosm, 2019)
After a series of bizarre homicides, a detective and her partner embark on a perilous journey through Brazil and Colombia to get to the bottom of proceedings before stumbling upon a dangerous native tribe with a sinister secret who have connections to such women.
With an intriguing yet slow-paced plotline, the series has sporadic dialogues that are replaced by brilliant visuals and cinematography. With well-portrayed metaphysical tropes, the series also raises various existential obstacles in the protagonist’s path as well as the debate between nature and culture that might be a defining moment in the history of Spanish production.
7. Elite (Carlos Montero, Dario Madrona, 2018-)
Three working-class students receive a scholarship to get themselves enrolled at an elitist private school in Spain. It is there they soon find themselves at loggerheads with the rich students who have their own dirty laundry to cover that threaten their position in the school as well as society.
Dealing with class struggles and gendered conflicts, the show abounds in sexual tension, jealousy, financial constraints, crimes and more. While it does pertain to certain teen drama cliches, it subverts and questions the same tropes, addressing social issues plaguing modern society.
6. The Queen of Flow (Claudia Sanchez, Said Chamie, 2018-2021)
Yeimy Montoya is a regular teenager with an innate talent for reggaeton music who dreams of becoming a singer and also harbours a crush on a schoolboy. After her parents are murdered, she realises how corrupt the system is when the investigation is hindered. Her ambition is further truncated when someone she trusted betrays her and she is sent to serve an uncalled for sentence in New York City. Soon, Yeimy changes for the worse, hoping to avenge herself and her family.
A highly engrossing telenovela with a strong and determined female lead the series boasts of well-drawn characters that are relatable as well. It is cathartic to watch Yeimy transform from a naive, sheltered teen to an absolute badass woman who shall stop at nothing to avenge her life, including infiltrating enemy camps and capturing them before ruining their business.
5. Monarca (Diego Gutierrez, 2019-2021)
Ridden with heartfelt moments, family disputes, love and loss, the series revolves around the echelons of the upper-class Mexicans whose lives are scandalous and filled with debauchery and brutality. A tequila tycoon family, the Davila’s, is at the centre of the show and it progresses when Ana Maria returns nearly two decades later to take control of the tequila empire as it is under the looming threat of crumbling under violence, corruption, hatred and dirty secrets.
Produced by Salma Hayek, the series comprises a talented ensemble. It takes an intimate and authentic look into family, politics, scandals and violence. A riveting social commentary, it helps one understand what life in Mexico looks like while commenting on the pervading corruption, drugs as well as taboo regarding homosexuality in Mexican society.
4. Ingobernable (Samuel Stewart, Pitipol Ybarra, 2017-2018)
This grappling Netflix political thriller is based on the fictionalised version of the Mexican presidential election. In the series, Emila Urquiza has ambitious plans to bring peace to the country but soon begins to lose faith in her husband as she is faced with tumultuous obstacles in form of cheating, corruption etc.
With multi-faceted and layered characters galore, the film shows Mexico in its truest sense, devoid of stereotypes. The plotline is intriguing and the whole series is filled with sexual tension, loyalty, revenge and friendships, focusing on contemporary issues.
3. The House of Flowers (Manolo Caro, 2018-2020)
After Ernesto’s mistress takes her own life and holds him accountable, he is sent to prison for the fraud she had committed. It is upon the wealthy and controlling Paulina, the matriarch of the family, to defend the honour of the de la Mora family and help maintain the facade of dignity and respect, even after her husband becomes the scapegoat in such fraudulent crimes.
A wide range of hilarious and likeable characters adorn the show. It is satirical and explores issues such as racism, homophobia as well as a dysfunctional family and the relationships that are contained within it. It is intriguing and humorous and succeeds in disrupting the foundation of the genre of telenovelas.
2. Narcos (Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, 2015-2017)
The series focuses on the meteoric boom of the cocaine trade in Colombia while exploring the lives of these reckless drug kingpins, namely the infamous and notorious Pablo Escobar, a drug cartel leader.
The show traces Escobar’s immense success as well as his nerve-wracking encounters with DEA officials as well as enemies. It also chronicles the fall of this infamous leader as well as the DEA’s valiant efforts to disassemble the Cali cartel.
Unnerving and fascinating, Narcos boasts wonderful characters that are well-portrayed with charm yet fail to evoke sympathy due to their deeds. Cunning, vile and atrocious, these characters, especially Escobar, will stop at nothing to quench his thirst for success. The series is intense and brings in a stellar retelling of recent history that makes it such a compelling watch.
1. Money Heist (Alex Pina, 2017-2021)
A bunch of renegade Robin hoods are clad in red overalls and Anonymous masks are headed by an intelligent professor who instructs them to carry out a highly sensational heist at the Royal Mint of Spain and Bank of Spain. They do it all while fending themselves against the police and other enemies, trying to keep the hostages alive.
A subversion of the typical heist genre with a strong Spanish identity, the show has plenty of strong female protagonists, unlike the typical hyper-masculine heist films. The show abounds in elements of black comedy and is set in a time when Spain was plagued by a financial crisis that led to the start of a rebellion against the capitalistic government.