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Yes, 2018 ended 5 weeks ago, but a few hundred new Euro TV programs and seasons premiered in the US last year, so it took a bit longer than usual to get through them.

My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend: Elisa Del Genio as Elena and Ludovica Nasti as Lila — Photo: Eduardo Castaldo/HBO

Peak TV extends well beyond English-language shows, of which just shy of 500 scripted titles aired in the US in 2018, according to research conducted by FX Networks.

By my count, just over 350 new and returning English-subtitled, original-language Euro TV shows debuted in the United States in 2018. There was no way I could watch all of them (not if I wanted to have a life, which I did), so I didn’t. But for our purposes here, it matters not, since my list of favorites is limited to shows that were brand-spanking new to the US, which I did watch. (For the record, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the new episodes of Detective Montalbano, the final season of The Bridge, and Deutschland 86, amongst many other returning series.)

The programs that earned a spot (with their first seasons) on this favorites list held me in their grasp from start to finish, left me waiting impatiently for the next episode (as applicable), and had me exclaiming “wow” or “whoa” or some variation thereof, and “you. must. watch. this. show.” to anyone who would listen. So without any further ado…

(Some videos contain scenes and language that are not suitable for all viewers.)

54 Hours (Gladbeck) (Germany)

This limited series dramatizes the events of the Gladbeck hostage crisis of 1988, in which two career criminals take two bank workers, then a busload of passengers, hostage after a failed robbery attempt. What was more criminal than the hostage takers was the outrage-inducing ineptitude of the police. Angry though I was, I still couldn’t look away, like a rubbernecker after a wreck on the highway. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Sundance Now, Sundance Now on Amazon

Acquitted (Frikjent) (Norway)

I didn’t like many characters in this drama, but still found the show addictive. It stars Nicolai Cleve Broch (The Half Brother) as Aksel Borgen (né Nilsen), a successful businessman who returns to Norway after 20 years in Asia to save a hometown business from bankruptcy. Time does not heal all wounds, and hell hath no fury like a woman whose daughter was murdered — a crime for which Aksel was acquitted yet still stands convicted in the court of public opinion. Where to watch in the US: MHz ChoiceMHz Choice on Amazon

The Adulterer (Overspel) (Netherlands)

Speaking of addictive, I binged this psychological crime thriller, which revolves around photographer Iris (Sylvia Hoeks, Berlin Station) and lawyer Willem (Fedja van Huêt, The Neighbors), both married to other people while engaged in a passionate affair. Meanwhile, her husband is trying to prosecute Willem’s father-in-law, a shady businessman who’s son is a murder suspect. And that’s just for starters! Where to watch in the US: Walter Presents (through Feb 28), PBS Masterpiece on Amazon

Amigos (Belgium)

Despite this drama series being a work of fiction, its story, full of heart, humor, and hope, helped to restore a bit of my dwindling faith in humanity. It follows five ex-cons who team up to open and run a restaurant — the fulfillment of one man’s dream and a fresh start for all of them. But bad decisions, bad people, and bad luck conspire against them. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Prime Video

Babylon Berlin (Germany)

I couldn’t get enough of this historical mystery series based on Volker Kutscher‘s “Gereon Rath” novels, so I’m thrilled Season 3 is in the works. Seasons 1 (which features one of the best musical scenes ever) and 2 star Volker Bruch (Generation War) as the PTSD-suffering Inspector Rath, whose police work includes murder, porn, and a stash of gold in Weimar Republic-era Berlin. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Netflix

Bad Banks (Germany-Luxembourg)

Let’s just say my fingernails were very short at the end of this suspense-filled thriller. Set in the high-stakes world of investment banking, it follows Jana Liekam (Paula Beer, Frantz), a wunderkind deal structurer who gets challenged, manipulated, and blackmailed, and then strategizes how to get even and further ahead, while working at her dream job in Frankfurt. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Hulu

Black Spot (Zone blanche) (France)

Some scenes in this Twin Peaks-ish mystery series left me spooked while others had me laughing out loud. At the center of the drama is Laurène Weiss (Suliane Brahim, Nuts), the sheriff of an isolated mountain town where unnatural deaths are common, a wolf acts as a guardian angel, and a mysterious horned creature resides in the forest. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: No longer available (Sorry!)

Death in León (Muerte en León) (Spain)

In watching this utterly gripping Making a Murder-esque true-crime docuseries, I became as incredulous about Spain’s legal system as I did about German police during 54 Hours. Through archival footage, interviews, and filmed court testimonies, it tells the story of the assassination of Isabel Carrasco, a ruthless and powerful politician in León, and the three women charged and imprisoned for her murder. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Kanopy

Fallet (Sweden)

The only full-fledged comedy on this list is this hilarious, bilingual series that spoofs Scandi noir crime dramas and made me howl in laughter. Filled with LOL scenes based on details in popular Nordic noir series, and featuring several actors from said shows, Fallet centers on two inept detectives — one Swedish, the other English — forced to be partners for the case of a British man murdered in Norrbacka. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Netflix

Follow the Money (Bedrag) (Denmark)

I’d already seen this crime thriller, but re-watched it when it arrived in the US cos I liked it so much. Season 1 follows a detective who teams up with a fraud squad investigator to look into the shady business dealings of a green energy company’s CEO (Nikolaj Lie Kaas, “Department Q” films”), after the former links the corporate bigwig to a suspicious death. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Link TV (select episodes)

The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (La mafia uccide solo d’estate) (Italy)

Italy’s The Wonder Years took me by surprise and completely charmed me. Set in 1970s Palermo against the backdrop of mafia violence and historical events, this sweet and funny comedy-drama tells the story of the quirky Giammarresi family through the eyes of their young, impressionable, and often lovesick son, Salvatore, who narrates the series as his adult self. Where to watch in the US: MHz ChoiceMHz Choice on Amazon

Mafia Undercover (Solo) (Italy)

The first time I saw longtime Detective Montalbano costar Peppino Mazzotta play a nasty, tattooed mafioso in this crime drama, I did a double-take. Here he features alongside Marco Bocci (Anti-Mafia Squad), who stars as an undercover cop, code-name Solo, who’s infiltrated the Corona mafia family in Rome and become the right-hand man to the don’s son (Mazzotta). The danger factor is upped when Solo gets involved with the don’s daughter. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Prime Video

El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time) (Spain)

I love this fantasy-adventure series! It’s like history lessons wrapped inside Doctor Who-ish stories, but without aliens and monsters. The humor-filled episodes follow members of the Spanish government’s secret Ministry of Time, who travel through the MoT’s time portal to various places and time periods (including their own) in order to prevent selfish and nefarious people from changing history. Where to watch in the US: Netflix

Morocco: Love in Times of War (Tiempos de guerra) (Spain)

My hope for a second season of this historical drama is fading. Be that as it may, the series, set during the Spanish-Moroccan Rif War and featuring several real-life characters, follows a group of (mostly) upper-class women who, as Spanish Red Cross nurses, tend to wounded and dying soldiers in the Rif region. In the process, they find love while war rages around them. (Sigh.) (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Netflix

My Brilliant Friend (L’amica geniale) (Italy)

Wow. Just wow. This unforgettable coming-of-age drama, adapted from Book 1 of Elena Ferrante‘s “Neopolitan Novels,” tells the story of the tempestuous friendship between Elena and Lila. Everything about Season 1, which spans from their primary school days to early adulthood, is brilliant, but what blew me away was the talent of Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti — the two actresses who play the young Elena and Lila. Where to watch in the US: HBOHBO on Amazon

Real Humans (Äkta människor) (Sweden)

Even though I’d watched the DVDs of this sci-fi drama a few years ago, I re-watched it when it began streaming in the US and noticed things I hadn’t the first time. The British show Humans is based on this series, which is set in a parallel universe and follows hubot-owning humans, anti-hubot activists, and humanoid robots with consciousness, free will, and a deep desire for freedom. (Freaky!) (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Hulu

The Restaurant (Vår tid är nu) (Sweden)

This is the Swedish Downton Abbey you didn’t know you wanted (if you’re a fan of the British series, which I am). Set in post-WWII Stockholm, this period drama features a restaurant instead of a manor, a controlling matriarch (but sans zingers), relationships between haves and have nots, and personal dramas amongst the restaurant-owning family members and their employees. Where to watch in the US: Sundance NowSundance Now on Amazon

Rocco Schiavone (Italy)

Truth be told, I developed a crush on the charismatic cop played by Marco Giallini (Romanzo Criminale) in this mystery series based on the crime novels by Antonio Manzini. Rocco is a police inspector in Aosta, yet he smokes weed in his office and makes extra cash through illegal means while investigating curious criminal cases in the mountain resort area. What’s not to crush over? (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Starz, Starz on Amazon

Tabula Rasa (Belgium)

This mind-blowing psychological thriller rocked. my. world. Taking place over two timelines, it follows Mie (Veerle Baetens, Beyond the Walls), a wife and mother, an amnesiac, and the only lead and suspect in a missing person case, for which she’s being held by a detective in a psychiatric hospital. As Mie begins to remember things, facts begins to collide with possibly false memories and her past starts crashing into her present. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: Netflix

Varg Veum (Norway)

I love me some Trond Espen Seim (The Legacy), but there’s more to this series of classic Nordic Noir mystery-crime drama movies than his good looks and fine acting. Based on the novels by Gunnar Staalesen, the films star Seim as the eponymous private detective, who invariably gets involved in police investigations while working on his clients’ cases. (More details about the series here.) Where to watch in the US: MHz ChoiceMHz Choice on Amazon


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Favorite Euro TV Premieres of 2018