With An Accent Recommends: International TV Shows We Love

Welcome to our first ever Staff Recommends Feature! About once a month we’re picking a topic for which we’ll be picking recommendations to share with our readers, and each other. It gives us another reason to gush about the things we love, and who doesn’t love that?

This month we asked our writers to share television from around the world they love and can’t wait to share with our readers.

Take a trip around the world with the With An Accent Staff to find your next must-see binge show!

 

Recommended by Valerie Parker, Managing Editor

Les Revenants (The Returned)

“Dead people emerge from their graves and reunite with loved ones in a provincial city.” So that’s a pretty simple explanation for what is a ridiculously complex and compelling story. Les Revenants is a French (yes, it means subtitles, but it’s worth it, I promise) supernatural thriller set in a small provincial town where suddenly the dead begin to return. Those who return range from the innocent, to the troubled, to the murderous. Some are long dead, some are more recent. At the same time strange things are happening in the town. Power outages, the local reservoir is draining and no one knows why, and strange marks begin to appear on the bodies of both the living and the dead. The mystery of how these people came back, and why they’re here sets the stage for a deep character study as the people in the town try to understand and accept the strange happenings around them. Set to a haunting soundtrack from Scottish post-rock band, Mogwai, Les Revenants is a compelling series that will stay with you long after you finish the episodes. The series has 2-8 episode seasons, and has yet to be renewed for a third. But the critical and general audience reception has been so positive, there’s sure to be more. Just prepare for a wait. It’s foreign, they like to make us wait for the good stuff ::cough::Sherlock::cough::.

Les Revenants was produced by Canal + in France, and airs on The Sundance Channel in the US. Both seasons are currently available on Netflix.

 

Recommended by Kim Wroe, Contributing Editor

Black Mirror

Black Mirror

Black Mirror is a rather dark and unsettling anthology series created by Charlie Brooker (Dead Set). While every episode tells a different story and utilizes different actors, they are each tied together by the common thread of speculation over how overreaches in technology could warp our world in ways that we never intended. While most would call Black Mirror science fiction (and some episodes are admittedly more unrealistic than others), there are also undertones of horror that run through each story to varying degrees and in varying ways. If you’re looking for a show to get you out of your comfort zone, Black Mirror is definitely our generation’s The Twilight Zone. However, do yourself a favor and go into each episode completely blind — no googling allowed!

The first seven episodes originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK (and can be found currently on Netflix US), but an order for twelve more has been commissioned by Netflix to be produced and aired internationally. Currently, six of these upcoming episodes have a set release date of October 21, 2016 on Netflix, with the back six’s air date still to be determined. Be sure to check it out!

 

Recommended by Tatiana, Contributor

El tiempo entre costuras (The Time In Between)

The Spanish drama El tiempo entre costuras (The Time in Between) provides a lavish look at early 20th century Europe. This eleven-episode series details one young woman’s life amidst the strife and turmoil of the 1930s and 40s. Sira Quiroga, played beautifully by Adriana Ugarte, serves as our eyes into the world of the story. Her tale of love, family, and heartbreak begins against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. Eventually her troubles grow more difficult, as the political unrest embroils both her and the series in World War II. El tiempo entre costuras is a particularly refreshing take on this time period simply because Spain’s involvement is not often featured. Educational purposes aside, the lush cinematography and costumes alone are worth the viewing. For those who love character-driven stories, the first few episodes are rich with family drama and Sira’s inner journey. And for audiences more interested in war stories and spy games, the action ramps up as the story goes on. It’s nearly impossible not to be invested in the charismatic heroine, and the series delves into her life with gusto. I recommend anyone who is a fan of costume drama and European history check it out.

El tiempo entre costuras is currently available on Netflix .

 

Recommended by Kelly Sarna, Contributor

Tomorrow When the War Began

What would you do if you got back from a camping trip with your friends to find your entire town had been invaded by another country? Your parents imprisoned, house destroyed, and it’s up to you and the seven people before you to take back your town? That’s the position Ellie Linton and her friends find themselves in, in the recently released Australian television series, Tomorrow When the War Began. Based on the popular book series of the same name by John Marsden, not to mention the 2010 film version, this TV series is an absolute must watch. The first season is only six ~1 hour episodes, so you can easily watch it in one sitting. Personally, what I adore most about this franchise is how well it approaches the concept of taking teenagers and putting them into this life or death situation. Unlike so many other young adult films/shows, they’re not invincible; they don’t have all of the answers. Heck, at times they’re dealing with relationship problems while steering clear of soldiers! What also works well is that each character is given proper character development, and you see how the war affects each of them. The series even touches on the prisoners of war – the kids’ parents and what they’re going through, something that the books/film never focused on. The series definitely has its flaws. The Colonel (James Stewart)’s accent isn’t the best (to put it mildly) and there are far too many slow-motion sequences, but other than that I have no qualms and highly recommend it. Click here to view the trailer for the series! The first season concluded on May 28th, 2016 on ABC3. There has yet to be a season renewal or cancellation. Cross your fingers this show gets renewed!

Tomorrow When The War Began is currently available on Netflix.

 

Recommended by Alice Yoon, Video Editor and Contributor

Happy Valley

Imagine the movie Fargo, but in West Yorkshire, and that’s just the beginning of Happy Valley. The show was created by Sally Wainwright and if you’re looking for a show that has female characters as fully formed, multifaceted individuals with agency, then this is the show for you. Women are victims and heroes, and sometimes both. No one is a stereotype. It stars Sarah Lancashire, whom I remembered from the Doctor Who episode “Partners in Crime,” where she played an alien nanny. Here Lancashire plays Catherine Cawood, a police sergeant in the West Yorkshire town of Halifax. It’s not explicitly mentioned in the show, but the place is named “Happy Valley” because of the abundance of drugs, and drugs show up a lot in the show.

From the very first episode, you learn that Cawood is immensely competent at her job and I wondered why she wasn’t in charge of the place. Little details emerge after watching a few episodes and you learn the various tragedies she and her family endured and how it led to the life she was now living. She’s a well respected leader in the local police force, knows almost everyone in town, and is a force to be reckoned with. She takes care of her grandson and her sister, who is a recovering alcoholic. She’s divorced from her husband (although she still has the occasional fling with him) and estranged from her son. The reasons why are spoilers, but by the end of the series you understand why there’s been a breach in the family. She’s not perfect – she’s too harsh at times, she’s not afraid to illegally intimidate people using her job, will cut corners to get her way, and takes people for granted, mired in her own sorrow. The show also has one of the best villains I’ve seen in a show and the menace he conveyed put me on the edge of my seat.

The show is available on Netflix and easily binged over a weekend; the first season is only 6 episodes, but I have to warn you that you will want to see series 1 episode 5 immediately after finishing series 1 episode 4. Make sure you block out the necessary time, or be prepared to not sleep for the next hour. Or just watch the last three episode in one long block. (You’ll thank me later.) I cannot recommend this series enough.

 

Recommended by Angela, Contributing Editor

Humans

Because I got too overwhelmed trying to pick just one kdrama to recommend, today we’re going to talk about Humans.  On paper, the show isn’t doing much new. People can buy androids (synths, as they’re called in this universe) as help around the house, questions about the nature of humanity are raised, etc. But I’m more of a character person than a plot person, and that’s where Humans stands out. The series rotates around two families; the first of which, a typical middle class family, purchases a synth. That synth is actually the matriarch of a family of self-aware synths with free will; she’d been captured and her protocols rewritten.

Humans studies the effects synths have on, well, humans. Teenage Mattie Hawkins, for instance, is flunking out of school despite being brilliant at computers, because what’s the point when actual human-computers can do it better? Even when the now-worn question of “what does it mean to be human?” is raised it’s interesting – not because it’s new for the viewers, but because the characters, Katherine Parkinson’s Laura Hawkins in particular, are realistic and compelling as they attempt to answer it.

I’m struggling about what to write about the synth family because they’re the real highlight, and I just want to pen novels on my love for them. Predictably it’s the non-humans who are the real soul of the show, from the purehearted Max, to the dynamic Niska, to the insightful Mia. And if we’re being superficial: Colin Morgan is here and is super pretty in something that isn’t dark and depressing, for once since Merlin.

Humans season 1 is currently available to stream on Amazon, and is free to prime members. Season 2 will air on Channel 4 in the UK in the late fall, and on AMC in the US in early 2017. In the meantime, while researching premiere dates I just learned that Humans is itself based on a Swedish show called Real Humans, so I’ll be off finding and binge-watching that.

 

Recommended by Tere Michaels, Assistant Editorial Director

The Fall

Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) and Jamie Dornan (Once Upon A Time, 50 Shades) head the cast of this wickedly smart and creepy duel between a detective and a serial killer in Northern Ireland. Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) and Colin Morgan (Merlin) show up, and basically all the actors are top notch. There’s a gritty, atmospheric darkness to the show, with a growing sense of dread as each episode progresses.

This BBC Two show has finished series one and two; series three will be coming at the end of the year. For US folks, Netflix owns the rights so you can binge appropriately!

Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Anderson) is a London investigator sent to Belfast when it’s clear a serial killer is on the loose. The local law doesn’t have experience with sexually motivated serial killers but Stella does. She’s cold and intense and isn’t out to make friends. Meanwhile, serial killer – and seemingly normal husband and father –  Paul Spector (Dornan) is killing young professional women in and around the city. This is a SMART show – the writing is excellent, the tension is a slow build until you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat.

And what I like best: there is an organic feel to the story. It doesn’t feel rushed or stressed or sensationalized. Unlike a lot of American shows, where you’d expect Paul and Stella to be falling in lust at some point, this is a battle between two smart people who refuse to be stopped. Stella won’t rest until Paul is stopped and Paul won’t stop until he’s dead. That’s it – that’s the rollercoaster you sign up for!

This show has been nominated all sorts of awards – BAFTAs, Satellite, among others – and won an Edgar Allan Poe Award, which I think is wholly deserved. There is a quiet sense of fear that bubbles up when you’re watching this show! The spiderweb of plot and tension and then a sudden burst of violence or the anticipation of it – keep your lights on and your evening open because you will not be able to stop watching until the very end.

See you next month with more recs!