Nearly 300 Euro TV titles became available on streaming services and linear TV channels in the US in 2019. Here are my 20 favorites.
In 2019, a little more than 290 Euro TV titles were brand new to the US, including various kinds of drama, plus comedies and documentaries as well as competition shows.
This figure includes series, seasons, and one-offs from across the continent that were shown in the States for the first time. Thus, it does not include shows that returned to stateside screens after some absence. It also does not count twice any program that debuted in the US on a linear TV channel and then went on to stream on a competitive channel (and vice versa). And co-produced programs are likewise counted only once, assigned to the lead production company’s home country.
Speaking of, here’s how the 290+ breaks down by country:
- Austria 1
- Belgium 8
- Croatia 3
- Czech 10
- Denmark 8
- Finland 5
- France 70
- Germany 40
- Hungary 2
- Iceland 2
- Italy 18
- Netherlands 6
- Norway 4
- Poland 4
- Russia 43
- Serbia 2
- Slovakia 1
- Spain 28
- Sweden 19
- Switzerland 3
- Turkey 10
- Ukraine 2
- Wales 3
- Total 292
When combined with the shows I cover for The British TV Place and The Down Under TV Place, we’re talking more than 770 shows in total. On average that’s 64 per month, 2 per day every day for the entire year. I enjoy this stuff as much as the next fan of international television, but I also like having a life beyond TV, so no, I didn’t watch all of them.
And for the sake of keeping things manageable regarding my list of Euro TV favorites, I did what I have done in (most) years past: I only considered a show’s first (or only) season, and didn’t include subsequent seasons, no matter how worthy they were of being on the list. (Here’s looking at you, Anatomy of Evil.)
Overall, there were a lot of good, very good, and excellent Euro TV shows in 2019, as well as some duds. Part of what makes doing this for a living fun is discovering shows that rocked my world or otherwise made an impression — including ones that I probably would have ignored or skipped if I had judged them by their genres or specific content.
Herewith, then, are my favorite Euro TV premieres in the US in 2019. (Note: the “where to watch” listings below are current as of this writing. If you’re in the UK and want to see if the shows are available there, check their respective language pages.)
35 Days (35 Diwrnod) (Wales)
Ever since I first saw S1 of this mystery drama a few years ago, it stuck in my mind. So when it arrived in the US, I watched it again and was reminded of how good it is. It’s dark and dreary, but its stories are gripping. It opens with a woman dead on the floor, then rolls back 35 days to reveal the events leading to her demise. Several things contribute to its binge-worthiness: the mystery of who killed her, the guilty-pleasure nature of learning her and her neighbors’ secrets, and Matthew Gravelle’s fabulous portrayal of a transgender woman. Where to watch: BritBox, BritBox on Amazon
All the Sins (Kaikki synnit) (Finland)
My first instinct about this Nordic noir crime drama was correct: it is slow-burn and it is addictive. It follows two detectives — a gay man from a very strict religious background, and a straight woman who puts work ahead of family — as they investigate a double murder in his hometown. The police procedural part of the story is intriguing, but what really hooked me are the characters’ backstories and how they get played out. Where to watch: PBS Masterpiece on Amazon, Walter Presents
He’s got mad forensic pathology skills, he’s brilliant and attractive (and knows it), and he talks to the dead, who happen to talk back. He’s Balthazar (Tomer Sisley), the delightfully quirky character that makes this humorous and occasionally dark mystery-crime drama a real gem. He drives the chief inspector batty, but that’s part of his — and the show’s — charm. In a word, it’s fabuleuse. Where to watch: Acorn TV, Acorn TV on Amazon.
Banking District (Quartier des Banques) (Switzerland)
This show took me by surprise, and I ended up bingeing it over two nights. The mystery part centers on what really happened to the director of a private, family-run bank (accidental overdose or foul play?), while the suspense aspects concern the running of the bank in his absence, from the tense family dynamics and corporate politics, to the looming threat from US tax authorities on the bank’s business and customers. It’s quite engrossing. Where to watch: MHz Choice, MHz Choice on Amazon
Before We Die (Innan vi dör) (Sweden)
Talk about a heart-pounding, nail-biter of a crime thriller! It revolves around two families — detective Hanna (Marie Richardson) and her son Christian (Adam Pålsson), and the Mimicas. She doesn’t know he’s a code-named police informant who’s infiltrated the Mimica crime family, and he doesn’t know his handler is his mum. Life is a constant touch-and-go situation for them all, as getting caught has dire if not deadly consequences. (Don’t watch this near bedtime, lest your elevated heart rate keep you awake like mine did.) Where to watch: PBS Masterpiece on Amazon, Walter Presents
Deadly Seasons (France)
I added this show to my watch list in October, but didn’t get around to watching it until recently. Am I glad I didn’t skip it, cos it’s really terrific. Based on novels in the “Les Saisons Meurtrières” series by Gilda Piersanti, it features a veteran detective haunted by his past, and a pre-Tinder, sexually-daring criminal profiler, investigating murders in Paris. Dark and rather graphic, it reminds me of Dead Beautiful (a fave from 2017). Where to watch: Prime Video
Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves (Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar) (Sweden)
This drama is a stunning piece of television and I will forever recommend it. It made me laugh and cry and clap with joy. It hurt my heart, seeing how cruel and closed-minded people can be. It redeemed my faith in humanity, seeing how loving and generous people can be. It’s about the rise and the impact of AIDS on Stockholm’s gay community in the early ’80s, as told through the lives of Rasmus (Adam Pålsson) and Benjamin (Adam Lundgren) and their small group of friends. It’s poignant and life-affirming. It’s a keeper. Where to watch: MHz Choice, MHz Choice on Amazon
High Seas (Alta Mar) (Spain)
Producers in Spain seem to have a knack for creating colorful and compelling period dramas, and this one ranks high on the list. Part mystery, part romance, part soap, it follows the passengers aboard a luxury ocean liner in post-WWII waters, including those who act as amateur sleuths after not one or two but three murders happen during the voyage. The story is good, the costumes are terrific, and the series is fun. Where to watch: Netflix
Home for Christmas (Norway)
I admit that I can be a Grinch during the holidays, and while my heart didn’t grow three sizes the day I watched this comedy-drama, I did feel all warm and fuzzy from having seen (and laughed and cried through) it. The story follows a single, 30-year-old woman who, tired of being the only one amongst her family and friends without a partner, sets out to find a boyfriend in the 24 days before Christmas. By turns hilarious and deeply moving, it’s like a “Searching for Love Actually.” Where to watch: Netflix
Invisible Heroes (Finland-Chile)
Until I watched this historical drama, I knew nothing about how the Chargé d’Affaires at the Finnish embassy in Chile risked everything to help thousands of Chileans escape the country after Pinochet launched a military coup in 1973. The story is fascinating and the miniseries is a solid piece of storytelling, showing how the courage of a few, in the face of political, professional and personal pressures, prevented many from being tortured and killed. Where to watch: Topic, Topic on Amazon
Maltese: The Mafia Detective (Maltese – Il Romanzo del Commissario) (Italy)
It seems like every few years there’s a new mafia crime drama set in a past decade, and last year brought us this excellent series set in the ’70s. Kim Rossi Stuart stars as the eponymous detective, but unlike shows that focus on the dedicated anti-mafia work of the hero cop, this one is essentially an intricate, suspenseful, and binge-worthy murder mystery story set amongst the beauty of Sicily. Where to watch: PBS Masterpiece on Amazon, Walter Presents
The Miracle (Il miracolo) (Italy)
I got hooked on this drama from the off. The narrative follows the lives of a few people who’ve witnessed the miracle of a plastic statue of the Virgin Mary weeping human blood. While the mystery of said miracle is certainly interesting, it is the stories of the main characters that make this show so compelling. Where to watch: Topic (currently still free to stream), Topic on Amazon
Miss Friman’s War (Fröken Frimans krig) (Sweden)
This feel-good historical drama with a stellar ensemble cast is such a treat! (I binged S1 in one sitting.) The central story follows women’s rights advocate Dagmar Friman (Sissela Kyle) as she inspires a group of women to join her in opening a female-run food co-op in Stockholm in 1905; the threads concern their lives and depict the realities of being a woman in Sweden at the turn of the 20th century. In some ways we’ve come a long way; in others not so much. Where to watch: MHz Choice, MHz Choice on Amazon
Origins (Origines) (France)
For a twist on the amateur sleuth-and-experienced detective duo, this charming cozy mystery series, reminiscent of Murder She Wrote and The Art of Crime, features a genealogist instead of a novelist. The light fare of S1 is the perfect respite from dark crime dramas. (As an fyi, you might want to give S2 a miss due to the change in lead actress.) Where to watch: Prime Video
Pagan Peak (Der Pass) (Germany-Austria)
Speaking of dark crime dramas, this one is the German-language version of The Bridge (Bron/Broen). Unlike The Tunnel, S1 doesn’t recreate the story in the original Swedish-Danish series; rather, it incorporates certain elements into an original story. The result is an engrossing, slow-burn suspense drama worthy of bingeing. Where to watch: Topic, Topic on Amazon
Ride Upon the Storm (Herrens veje) (Denmark)
Speaking of bingeing, I did exactly that with this riveting drama starring the brilliant Lars Mikkelsen. He plays a priest, husband, and father whose flock and family, especially his two sons, are often at the mercy of his alcohol-fueled rages, soul-crushing expectations, and heart-breaking favoritism. Where to watch: Netflix
Seaside Hotel (Badehotellet) (Denmark)
Delightful from start to finish is this popular period comedy-drama, which follows the staff and (mostly) wealthy summertime guests of the titular hotel. By turns humorous and serious, it’s part Downton Abbey, part coming-of-age story, and part historical drama. And it’s totally worth watching, whether you binge it or take your sweet time savoring each episode. Where to watch: PBS Masterpiece on Amazon, Walter Presents
I am so glad I didn’t summarily dismiss this crime drama because of its rapper characters and hip-hop music (a genre I seldom, but not never, listen to), because it is an excellent series. It follows a gifted music producer, a record label owner, and a detective, whose lives connect and intersect after a gangster returns to Frankfurt. It’s dark and gritty and violent, and yes, I binged it. Where to watch: Netflix
Tatort: Munich (Germany)
As far as I can tell, each series under the Tatort umbrella is a solid police procedural, and this one is no exception. The crime stories are intricate, and I especially like the pairing of Miroslav Nemec and Udo Wachtveitl as the Munich-based Croat-and-German detective duo, who are as much friends and brothers as they are longtime crime-fighting partners. Where to watch: MHz Choice, MHz Choice on Amazon (Photo courtesy of MHz Choice)
The Truth Will Out (Det som göms i snö) (Sweden)
I totally enjoyed this multi-layered Scandi noir mystery series. Inspired by true events, it follows a cold case team’s inquiries into old cases related to a convicted serial killer who might have lied about the murders he claimed he committed. It’s also a show in which my favorite character isn’t the lead detective but rather the admin/ad hoc investigator, who adds levity to the dark, slow-burn action. Where to watch: Acorn TV, Acorn TV on Amazon
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