Netflix may have hit its subscriber ceiling in America, which means the streaming service is investing ever more heavily in international shows and movies. Netflix is a global company that aims to have local-language content in countries all over the world, and its efforts are working. Its most popular show of all time is from South Korea (we're not even going to name it, because you know which one we're talking about), and some of its other international shows, like Spain's Money Heist and France's Lupin, are as popular as Hollywood hits like Stranger Things and 13 Reasons Why. And they're all right there next to each other on the streaming service. Netflix's interface makes watching things from all over the world as easy as the click of a remote.
If you're interested in digging deeper into Netflix's international dramas, we've compiled a list of some of the best ones you might not have heard of. You've already watched Squid Game, and you've been recommended Money Heist and Lupin and Élite and Dark a million times. These are some hidden gems your algorithm might not know you'd be into. Just do us a favor and promise that you'll put on the subtitles instead of listening to the dubbed version; Netflix dubs truly sound like they were recorded by an AI. You miss the nuance of the performances if you're hearing a voice that doesn't match the actor's face.
Some of South Korea's biggest global hits have been stories about the undead (yes, we're talking about Train to Busan and Kingdom), and Netflix's All of Us Are Dead could easily become the next. The jolting thriller about a zombie virus outbreak at a high school follows students as they desperately fight against flesh-eating monsters — some of whom had been their human friends just minutes before. Starring Yoon Chan-young, Park Ji-hu, Park Solomon, Cho Yi-hyun, and Squid Game's Lee Yoo-mi, the series based on the webtoon Now at Our School is a fresh take on the zombie genre with its centering of teen characters and its setting that transforms ordinary classrooms into vicious battlegrounds. As the virus spreads beyond the walls of the school, the show's exploration of themes including the corruption of authority and the abuse of power also becomes increasingly apparent. -Kat Moon
Binge if you like: The Walking Dead, Black Summer, Squid Game
Love Is Blind became a quarantine hit after its February 2020 release, but the reality show — in which singles try to find a connection without seeing each other — has been dry since then. By comparison, Too Hot to Handle, Netflix's horniest dating show, premiered in April 2020 and has already aired three seasons. Following a Brazilian version, Love Is Blind gets its second international edition courtesy of Japan before the flagship edition comes back for Season 2 on Feb. 11, but Love Is Blind: Japan should be different enough from the American version to excuse the questionable scheduling. For one, Japanese culture lends itself to the earnestness that the series is trying to capture, and second, the sets and destinations look ramped up from Season 1 of the U.S. version; for example, when the couples see each other for the first time, they do so under dazzling cherry blossoms. From there, it's the usual mix of heartbreak and burgeoning love as the couples decide whether or not to get married. Reality TV, ladies and gentlemen! -Tim Surette
Binge if you like: Love Is Blind, The Bachelor
This Mexican teen soap is about a group of music students at the prestigious university EWS, who are carrying on the tradition of the school's original breakout singing group, Rebelde. It's a sexy, updated reboot in the same vein as the new Gossip Girl, for better or worse, but it goes down easy. -Liam Mathews
Binge if you like: Gossip Girl, Glee, Elite
Yeon Sang-ho is building a name for himself as a creative force out of Korea, following his zombie films Train to Busan and its wacky sequel Peninsula. He directs his first television series with Hellbound, an adaptation of his webtoon Hell, which wades in the murky waters of religion and faith as creatures appear on Earth to drag people to hell after a prophecy from an angel. But Hellbound approaches the subject of sin and paying for those sins through several characters, such as a police detective and a cult leader. The special effects may be a little iffy, but the brutality and philosophy are real. -Tim Surette
Binge if you like: The Leftovers, The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass
The creator of the Danish series The Killing is back with another gloomy crime drama about a pair of cops hunting down a serial killer. This one leaves little figurines made out of chestnuts at the crime scenes, dismembers his victims, and might be connected to the disappearance of a politician's child. Fire it up if you're a fan of Scandi-noir. -Tim Surette
Binge if you like: The Killing, The Fall, True Detective
Both seasons of this Mexican thriller, which follows a man who sets out to exact revenge on the people who framed him for his sister's murder, reached the No. 1 spot on Netflix's Top 10 shows list last year. The show's success happened for a reason: It's hard to look away from a good murder mystery. "Good," in this case, means unapologetically soapy and over the top — sometimes at the expense of logic, sure, but the story goes down easy. Who Killed Sara? is a telenovela-tinged crime drama packed with rich people you'll love to hate. Season 3 is coming later this year. -Kelly Connolly
Binge if you like: The Flight Attendant, Elite, The Killing
This Polish series is an adaptation of a book by Netflix's favorite author Harlan Coben, following the popular mysteries The Stranger and Safe, and stays in those same murky waters of crime and secrets, oh so many secrets! In The Woods, a man looks for answers about the disappearance of his sister 25 years earlier, when four teens went into the woods and never came out. He's hoping that she's alive even as bodies and new evidence are being pulled out. It's an edge-of-your-seat thriller that shows Coben's brand of suspense translates in any language. -Tim Surette
Binge if you like: The Stranger, White Lines, Curon
This Indian webseries-turned-Netflix-production is an understated, in-depth look at what it takes to keep a relationship together. Created by and starring Dhruv Sehgal, Little Things is an empathetic take on the pressures of millennial love. The series is especially notable for its grounded characters that manage to make the ordinary, everyday rhythms of a long-term relationship into something truly wondrous and magical. Consider it the antithesis of every Bollywood rom-com you've ever seen.
Binge if you like: Lovesick, You're the Worst, Master of None
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is a delicious slice-of-life series straight from Japan. Patrons from all walks of life are brought together in one chef's late-night restaurant and each episode focuses on a different diner's life and various problems they're trying to solve in it. At turns hilarious, heart-breaking, maddening, and hopeful, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is like reading an advice column that actually works. And on top of all that there's tons of lovingly shot close-ups of food.
Binge if you like: Ugly Delicious, Taco Chronicles, Gentefied
This Brazilian comedy is not just a delightful play on the afterlife, but also a visual treat. When the first angel in 300 years is added to the surprisingly bureaucratic afterlife management system, his innocent questions soon turn into full-on office rebellion when he dares to fall in love with a human. Also in Nobody's Looking, for some reason, all angels are redheads. Just go with it.
Binge if you like: The Good Place, Miracle Workers, Parks and Rec
We all know that South Korea plus horror is a winning combination. So it's no surprise that one of Netflix's best horror productions is the country's Kingdom. The historical drama is set in the 16th Century and follows one prince's brutal race to reclaim his throne from political adversaries before his kingdom is besieged by a mysterious plague. It's only after his father's death that he realizes everyone touched by the plague will rise again (y'know, zombies). Intense and action-packed, Kingdom will no doubt one day be considered one of zombie lore's GOATs. (Also, Sense8 fans — keep an eye out for Doona Bae!)
Binge if you like: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The Terror
The King's Avatar is a Chinese dramedy about a legendary professional esports player making a comeback after being forced off his championship team. A veteran who has fallen out of love with the sport, Ye Qiu resorts to working in an internet cafe while figuring out the next step. But surprisingly, he finds people who not only remind him of why he loved playing the game in the first place, but also are the perfect teammates with whom to launch a comeback. A thrilling sports saga with especially exciting video game animation, The King's Avatar is a must-watch for anyone who found an online family through gaming.
Binge if you like: Friday Night Lights, Silicon Valley, The Witcher
Delhi Crime is a fictionalized account of a 2012 rape case that led to country-wide protests and an overhaul of the way India's judicial system deals with sexual assault cases. The show follows the police tasked with finding the gang who left a young woman and her boyfriend for dead. Their struggle to solve the case under mounting public and political pressure highlights not only the justice system's archaic understanding of sexual assault, but also how quickly lack of resources and corruption can poison the well. Thanks to a dedicated female police chief leading a handful of dogged detectives, officers make an unbelievable arrest that changes a nation.
Binge if you like: Unbelievable, Broadchurch, Happy Valley
Why it's great: This Mexican dramedy is about a pair of billionaire siblings fighting for control over the family's golden egg: a soccer team. But while the Iglesias family is busy tearing themselves apart in the boardroom, the players and staff of Cuervos FC suffer. After leading a number one team into a steady string of losses, the siblings are forced to reckon with their own faults. Club of Crows is especially notable for how it tackles class and gender in the kind of high-stakes professional world often dominated by men.
Binge if you like: Ballers, Succession, Scandal
Once upon a time, not so long ago, a Netflix exec saw Crazy Rich Asians and then proceeded to text the office group chat: "What if Crazy Rich Asians, but real life?" From this historic group chat (I'm assuming) sprang Singapore Social, a reality show that follows the lives of six young, wealthy, and attractive friends as they try to figure out what success and happiness means to them. Much like its American counterparts, there's tons of drama and plenty of fights to go around. But in a refreshing change of pace, Singapore Social's cast take their respective careers pretty seriously, and there's quite a few people to really root for as they weather professional turbulence. The real ace up the sleeve of this reality show is that the cast's families and friends are given ample screen time and it really does feel like you've been invited into someone's home.
Binge if you like: Keeping Up With the Kardashians, The Hills, Jersey Shore
Why it's great: Taj Mahal 1989 is an incredibly satisfying meditation on love set in Lucknow, India. The series follows a loosely connected cast of characters -- all with drastically different understandings of relationships -- through their first loves, honeymoons, fights, divorce, and even death. Despite a refreshingly honest look at the uglier side of love, particularly jealousy, boredom, and spite, Taj Mahal 1989 will leave you feeling buoyant and filled with hope. Almost like the kind words of a best friend after your heart's been broken.
Binge if you like: Easy, Modern Love, Lovesick
A Telenovela with a capital T, House of Flowers is a black comedy about a wealthy family whose social and business standing is torn to shreds when the patriarch's lover commits suicide in the family's flower shop. As she narrates the tale from beyond the grave, her death propels a multitude of secrets -- including a hidden daughter -- into the light and shatters the picture perfect de la Mora family. House of Flowers hits all the classic telenovela tropes but with fresh modern twists that keep the audience captivated. Think Jane the Virgin, but about a family filled with terrible rich people who are slowly learning to be kinder. Another sign House of Flowers is bingeworthy? Telenovela icon Verónica Castro plays the beleaguered matriarch dealing with the fallout of her husband's infidelity.
Binge if you like: Jane the Virgin, Succession, Parenthood
The Naked Director is a fictionalized retelling of Toru Muranishi's rise to infamy. During the '80s, Toru went from a failed bookseller to the Hugh Hefner of Japan. Considered the king of pornography during a period of unusual sexual liberation, Toru flouted censorship laws for his art (if you'd prefer to call it that) and revolutionized how Japanese people thought about desire. He also ended up on the run from the police and the yakuza, so you know, maybe take his heroism with a grain of salt. The Naked Director is a rare story about morally grey characters that still manages to be wildly engaging and fun. (Americans, expect a jarring mix of tones; the series splits the difference between an American prestige drama and a Japanese broad comedy, which is similar to vaudeville. Also note there's a few points where the show presents regressive sexual attitudes to reflect the time period.)
Binge if you like: The Deuce, Masters of Sex, The Playboy Club
Green Frontier is a slow burn mystery set in the wilds of the Amazon. A young detective travels deep into the rainforest to investigate the murder of missionaries. The main suspects are from an indigenous tribe, but the case takes a turn when one of the bodies bears both tribal markings and the clothes of a missionary. The detective remembers this murdered woman from her childhood, but the body in front of her hasn't aged and has no blood. What unfolds next is a spine-tingling supernatural thriller that manages to always stay grounded in humanity.
Binge if you like: True Detective, Top of the Lake, Frequency