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The top 12 German TV series you have to watch before you die

Here are some of the most binge-worthy television series from Germany that are guaranteed to have you hooked.

The top 12 German TV series you have to watch before you die
A scene from 4 Blocks. Photo: DPA

We all love to spend a day lounging around in front of a gripping new series.

So if you’ve run out of inspiration for things to watch, here are some great German television series to satisfy your appetite for binge-worthy shows.

1. Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)


We kick off with a German classic. Based on Alfred Döblin’s book of the same name, this 14-part West German series will have you questioning humanity, love and depression.

The series begins in 1928 and follows Franz Biberkopf after he is released from prison following a 4-year sentence for murdering his prostitute girlfriend Ida. He now swears to lead a new, honest life, but after being thrown back into Berlin in the roaring '20s, his journey won’t exactly be all sunshine and rainbows.

Released in America in 1983, the series garnered a cult following and is often considered as the great director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s masterwork. While maybe not the easiest watch of this list, Berlin Alexanderplatz offers you an in-depth look into the chaos of Weimar Germany.

Where to find it online: Maxdome (for viewers in Germany)

2. Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (Generation War) (2013)

This 3-part miniseries is just fantastic! The series follows the lives of five 20-something friends from 1941 to 1945 in Germany.

There’s the brave soldier proud to be fighting for his country, his sweet and sensible love-interest, the inexperienced younger brother, the aspiring singer, and their one Jewish friend. Their naive outlooks on war are dramatically turned upside down through the reality of the Second World War.

It may fall victim to some slightly implausible plot lines, but its head-on portrayal of the themes of friendship, betrayal and family will definitely make this series memorable. 

Where to find it online: Netflix, or for viewers in Germany: Amazon Prime and Maxdome

3. Babylon Berlin (2017-)

This German series, also set during the Weimar Republic, has been touted multiple times as Netflix’s “most bingeable new drama”.

Morphine-addicted Inspector Gereon Rath, who has just moved to Berlin from his industrial hometown, begins an investigation that gives you front-row seats through Berlin’s seedy underworld backed by a landscape of political and economic turmoil.

Babylon Berlin’s hedonistic party scenes and retro-jazz soundtrack will have you thinking of The Great Gatsby and Chicago, but with a hell of a lot more grit. This is the most expensive non-English television series to this date, costing a whopping €40 million.

Where to find it online: For UK viewers NowTV and Sky Go, for US viewers Netflix and for viewers in Germany Sky Ticket and Sky Go

4. Dark (2017-)

Dark is Germany’s answer to Stranger Things, but well… a lot darker and at times damn-right disturbing.

Set in small-town Germany, this science fiction thriller series has missing children and the supernatural, all while refusing to hold your hand through the process, exposing viewers to a community enveloped in loss.

Dark is a Netflix Original that explores the secrets of a town spanning generations, set in both the near-future 2019 and the past.

Where to find it online: Netflix

5. 4 Blocks (2017-)

Guns, drugs and hip hop – what more could you want from this new German series about a German-Arabic drug cartel in Berlin’s hip Neukölln district?

After trying to become a respectable real estate broker Ali ‘Toni’ Hamady has found himself at the head of his family’s crime syndicate. This gritty series highlights the dynamics of the close-knit family and at times its destructive qualities.

4 Blocks occupies a rather different space than the usual tropes of German television and offers a pretty authentic view of today’s Berlin. 

Where to find it online: Amazon Prime

6. You Are Wanted (2017-)

You Are Wanted is a Berlin-based thriller about a man whose world is turned upside down when he falls victim to a cyber attack. In a world so reliant on technology the sweet, doting husband and father Lukas Franke, played by Matthias Schweighöfer, must convince his friends and family that his personal data has been hacked and that he is being framed for crimes he hasn’t committed.

This series is particularly eerie in today’s world of data-privacy disputes and makes you want to stay far, far away from the nearest computer… except maybe to watch the next episode of this binge-worthy series. 

Where to find it online: Amazon Prime

7. Deutschland 83 (2015-)

Deutschland 83 focuses on young Martin Rauch, a soldier from East Berlin who goes undercover to impersonate one of his Western counterparts.

Finally a gritty Cold War spy series!… well not quite. This series has already received international acclaim for its authentic, and somewhat nostalgic, depiction of life in Cold War Germany. The young Martin Rauch is coaxed into his undercover role and serves as a very likeable protagonist but a pretty rubbish spy. The series is more a coming-of-age story than one of shadowy espionage.

While Deutschland 83 doesn’t shy away completely from the oppressive state often associated with the GDR, it instead prefers to present the time period in a more playful light. This can be seen most notably in its wonderful synth-pop soundtrack, with some great 80s tunes from New Order, David Bowie and Eurhythmics.

Where to find it online: For UK viewers Amazon Prime and All 4, for US viewers Hulu and viewers in Germany Amazon Prime

8. Stromberg (2004-2012)

If you’ve seen both the British and American versions of The Office and are still craving more then Stromberg is the show for you.

Stromberg is a German mockumentary series set in the fictional insurance company Capitol Versicherung AG. The department’s head Bernd Stromberg is up there with Ricky Gervais’ David Brent and Steve Carell’s Michael Scott as an incompetent and attention-seeking boss who you cannot help but laugh at.

Where to find it online: Netflix and Amazon Prime for viewers in Germany

9. Im Angesicht des Verbrechens (In Face of the Crime) (2010)

Full of cigarette smuggling, prostitutes and human trafficking, Im Angesicht des Verbrechens is another gangster series set in Berlin.

This cop-thriller follows the struggle between the police and the Russian mafia in Berlin. Constructed as a series of plot lines that only fully come together in the finale, this series is definitely not for light-hearted viewing.

This is the dark world of Russian organised crime that demands to be seen.

Where to find it online: Netflix for viewers in Germany

10. Der Tatortreiniger (2011-)

Der Tatortreiniger is a laugh-out-loud cult comedy series about crime scene cleaner Heiko “Schotty” Schotte.

Schotty’s job is to clean up after murders, suicides and violent crimes when the police and forensics teams are finished with their investigations. But the series focuses less on the murder itself and more on the humourous tasks of a crime scene cleaner and the interaction between Schotty and one of the bereaved.

Each 30-minute episode is packed full of witty dialogue, some hilarious pop culture references and surprising social critiques. This high-school dropout turned cleaner will have you in stitches in no time.

Where to find it online: For viewers in Germany, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky Ticket, Sky Go and Flimmit

11. Hindafing (2017-)

Welcome to Hindafing, the fictional Bavarian town with some serious issues.

The mayor Alfons Zischl wants to revamp the image of the town but his crystal meth habit isn’t exactly helping. The series deals with serious themes like corruption, the refugee crisis, dementia and the Panama Papers , all while using dark humour to take you inside the world of provincial politics.

Hindafing has been called the Bavarian Fargo by Die Zeit and Bavaria’s answer to Breaking Bad by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Where to find it online: For viewers in Germany, Netflix and Flimmit

12. Charité (2017-)

Charité is a big-budget German historical drama set in Berlin’s Charité research hospital in 1888.

The series follows the real-life doctors and nurses at this hospital as they embark on finding a cure for tuberculosis. Packed full of romance, forbidden love and frustrating social hierarchies, this period-drama will leave you wanting more.

This show explores the roles of the leading scientists of the time and attempts to capture their incredible breakthrough as well as their own internal struggles. Forget Downtown Abbey, Charité will give you your period drama fix and wow you with its mesmerising production… not to mention you may learn something at the same time!

Where to find it online: Netflix

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Meet the Spanish rapper bringing flamenco and bossa nova into hip-hop

Spanish rapper C. Tangana was taking a big risk when he started mixing old-fashioned influences like flamenco and bossa nova into his hip-hop -- but it's this eclectic sound that has turned him into a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic.

Meet the Spanish rapper bringing flamenco and bossa nova into hip-hop
Spanish rapper Anton Alvarez known as 'C. Tangana' poses in Madrid on April 29, 2021. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

The 30-year-old has emerged as one of the world’s biggest Spanish-language stars since his third album “El Madrileno” — the Madrilenian — came out in February. That ranks him alongside his superstar ex-girlfriend Rosalia, the Grammy-winning Catalan singer with whom he has co-written several hits.

C. Tangana, whose real name is Anton Alvarez Alfaro, has come a long way since a decade ago when he became known as a voice of disillusioned Spanish youth in the wake of the financial crisis.These days his rap is infused with everything from reggaeton and rumba to deeply traditional styles from Spain and Latin America, with a voice often digitised by autotune.

“It’s incredible that just when my music is at its most popular is exactly when I’m doing something a bit more complex, more experimental and less
trendy,” he told AFP in an interview.

And he is unashamed to be appealing to a wider audience than previously: his dream is now to make music “that a young person can enjoy in a club or someone older can enjoy at home while cooking”.

‘People are tired’

The rapper, who sports a severe semi-shaved haircut and a pencil moustache, has worked with Spanish flamenco greats including Nino De Elche, Antonio Carmona, Kiko Veneno, La Hungara and the Gipsy Kings.

In April he brought some of them together for a performance on NPR’s popular “Tiny Desk Concert” series, which has already drawn nearly six million
views on YouTube.

Shifting away from trap, one of rap’s most popular sub-genres, and venturing into a more traditional repertoire was a dangerous move — especially for someone with a young fanbase to whom rumba, bossa nova and bolero sound old-fashioned.

“I think people are tired. They’ve had enough of the predominant aesthetic values that have previously defined pop and urban music,” he said.

Parts of his latest album were recorded in Latin America with Cuban guitarist Eliades Ochoa of Buena Vista Social Club, Uruguayan
singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler, Mexican folk artist Ed Maverick and Brazil’s Toquinho, one of the bossa nova greats.

“What struck me most everywhere I went was the sense of tradition and the way people experienced the most popular music, and I don’t mean pop,” he said.

A new direction

C. Tangana started out in 2006 rapping under the name Crema. When the global economic crisis swept Spain a few years later, hard-hitting trap was
the perfect way to voice the angst of his generation. But after more than a decade of rapping, things changed.

“When I was heading for my 30s, I hit this crisis, I was a bit fed up with what I was doing… and decided to give voice to all these influences that I
never dared express as a rapper,” he said.

The shift began in 2018 with “Un veneno” (“A poison”) which came out a year after his big hit “Mala mujer” (“Bad woman”).

And there was a return to the sounds of his childhood when he used to listen to Spanish folk songs at home, raised by a mother who worked in
education and a journalist father who liked to play the guitar. The Latin American influences came later.

“It started when I was a teenager with reggaeton and with bachata which were played in the first clubs I went to, which were mostly Latin,” he said.

Studying philosophy at the time, he wrote his first raps between stints working in call centres or fast-food restaurants.

As to what comes next, he doesn’t know. But one thing he hopes to do is collaborate with Natalia Lafourcade, a Mexican singer who dabbles in folk, rock and pop — another jack of all musical trades.