I’m always in search of la dolce vita, even in my television entertainment. I like to watch European shows to see new actors, different plots, and interesting ways of life outside of the American experience. And I admit, I also like to watch European shows to see their clothes, home decor, and what they eat and drink. If you want to experience both the dark and light sides of la dolce vita, here are 5 of the best European shows on Netflix. I guarantee you’ll be binge-watching these shows, many of which have multiple seasons.
My 5 Best European Shows on Netflix
This is my absolute favorite of the European shows on Netflix. It is an Italian production set in Rome in the early 2000s. There is also a movie by the same name that I don’t recommend. Both the series and the movie were based on a popular book of the same name. The TV series has a special magic that comes with the three main characters. You’re going to love the relationship between Aureliano and Spadino, two young men from very different criminal families. The third friend, Lele, is the son of a cop. Complications ensue when the boys, the Vatican, corrupt politicians, and the Sicilian mafia are all fighting over the same piece of land by the sea. I like that the wife of one of the supporting characters owns a custom-design perfume business. It’s the little details like that which keep me interested. Probably one of my favorite television shows of all time. I loved this show so much that I even named a pasta dish after one of the characters: Pasta Aureliano. Pasta is actually featured in one of the plot points.
This series is out and out fun. Money Heist, as it is known in the U.S., is a Spanish production. It’s a caper story featuring a ragtag group of thieves who set out to pull off the largest heist in Spain’s history. They plan to rob the Royal Mint of Spain. The series features many interesting characters, who each adopt the code name of a city. The story is narrated by Tokyo, one of the female robbers. An interesting detail: The gang all wear Salvador Dali masks. This series was so popular, they made an equally entertaining sequel. Catch up now, because the final series is due out soon.
3. White Lines
This series is made by the same creator as Money Heist. I loved this series. I’m hoping for a second season, but the pandemic seems to have ruined any chance of that. Maybe some day they will revisit these characters. Let’s hope. Set in modern-day Ibiza — with flashbacks to 20 years prior — White Lines is a murder mystery, but it’s more than that. It is also the story about a group of friends who are finding that their lives need to change now that they are all in their early 40s. While the other shows on this list are filmed in Italian or Spanish and post-dubbed in English, White Lines was mostly filmed in English because it features a group of ex-pats from England. This is a very enjoyable show that kept me guessing up to the very end.
This Italian series is a dark story about teen girls who get caught up in a prostitution ring in modern-day Rome. There are also the usual high school dramatics, all while these girls are living a double life. Baby is loosely based on a true story. While the age of consent in Italy is much lower than that in the U.S., it is clear these young girls are too young to be dealing with these complicated sexual relationships. I enjoyed the character development of the main girls, Chiara and Ludovica, and also of the supporting characters of their parents and friends. Despite the dark plot line, it was interesting to see their apartments and modern Rome.
I listed this series last because the story is really over the top, but I still enjoyed this show. Elite is a murder mystery set among very wealthy Spanish teens at an elite school. I like the way the story blends in the teens’ use of phones and social media in their everyday lives, and how they weave in the subplot of immigration. Elite features compelling characters, witty dialog, fabulous clothes, and elaborate settings. Although it is a murder mystery, I still enjoyed spending time with this group of friends and frenemies.
Have you watched any of these series on my list of the 5 Best European Shows on Netflix? Which was your favorite?