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15 International Shows to Binge Watch Over Christmas and the Holidays  

The global television scene offered up an embarrassment of riches this year, with a seemingly endless supply of phenomenal dramas, comedies and crime procedurals as good as, or often better, than the best on offer Stateside.

The international expansion of Netflix, Amazon, AppleTV+ and others has meant many global talents now have the financial means to make their dream originals, while series from more traditional local broadcasters have access to global platforms, and a worldwide audience, on a scale never seen before.

Ahead of the winter break,   continues its holiday tradition in picking out the best international series to binge-watch over the holiday season. Our favorite 2022 series stocking stuffers include a feminist spy thriller from Germany, a Korean take on a British romantic classic and a deep dive into the French hip-hop scene of the 1980s. (Check out our list of international holiday movies to watch here.)

Beyond Evil

SHIN Ha-kyun, YEO Jin-gu in Beyond Evil

‘Beyond Evil’

Courtesy of Everett Collection

Shin Ha-kyun and Yeo Jin-goo play two oil-and-water police detectives who join forces to try and solve a 20-year-old cold case murder that they think was the work of a serial killer. This Korean thriller evokes Bong Joon Ho’s procedural classic Memories of Murder (2003) in its twisty, but also terrifying, exploration of the dark heart of man. (Streaming on Netflix)

Bad Sisters

'Bad Sisters'

‘Bad Sisters’

Courtesy of AppleTV+

Sharon Horgan’s Irish family whodunnit, the first fruit of Horgan’s multiyear deal with AppleTV+, is farcical, absurd and ridiculously entertaining. When John Paul (Claes Bang), beloved husband to Grace (Anne-Marie Duff) gets offed, every one of Grace’s siblings — Horgan, Sarah Greene, Eve Hewson and Yasmine Akram — is a suspect. The show balances the drama, comedy and mystery elements perfectly, but it’s the chemistry between this cast of sisters that makes the show sing. (Streaming on AppleTV+)

Beforeigners

Beforeigners

‘Beforeigners’

HBO Max

This Norwegian drama was a casualty of HBO Max’s budget cuts of 2022. But the show’s first two seasons are available on Amazon in the U.S. and reward rewatching. The show’s fascinating high-concept premise — involving time-traveler refugees from Norway’s past, including cave men, vikings and 19th-century dandies, who arrive in present-day Oslo — is the kickoff point for one of most fascinating world-building exercises on the small screen. What starts as a procedural crime drama, with the detective team of modern-man detective Lars (Nicolai Cleve Broch) and Old Norse ex-shield-maiden Alfhildr (Krista Kosonen), soon expands into an unclassifiable sci-fi/mystery/comedy that, by the end of season 2, is clearly just getting started. (Streaming on Amazon)

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’

@Netflix

This delightful K-drama, about an autistic rookie female lawyer with a genius IQ and extremely poor social skills, is extremely cute — all pastel colors and plot problems tied up nicely with a bow by series’ end. But it’s impossible to resist Park Eun-bin’s star-making turn as the irrepressible Attorney Woo. (Streaming on Netflix)

Finding Ola

Finding Ola

‘Finding Ola’

The standout series from Netflix’s new Middle East originals, this drama features Tunisian-Egyptian star Hend Sabry as a divorcée who sets off on a journey of self-discovery. Sabry is reprising a role she played in acclaimed 2010 romantic comedy series Ayza Atgawez (I Want to Get Married), but here, her character Ola is older, wiser and a lot busier, trying to balance demands as a single mother, her career as a pharmacist and responsibilities as the daughter of aging parents, with her own hopes to find new love. A story of female empowerment with a gentle Arab touch. (Streaming on Netflix)

On the Job

On the Job

‘On the Job’

Filipino filmmaker Erik Matti, together with screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto, re-cut his 2013 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight favorite into this six-part miniseries for HBO Asia. A noir crime thriller, inspired by a real-life scandal in which prison inmates were temporarily released to work as contract killers for local politicians and military officials, the series loses nothing in the transition to the small screen. And its themes relating to the real-world impact of fake news and manufactured online “truth” are, if anything, more relevant than ever. (Streaming on HBO Max)

Queen Song

Queen Song

‘Queen Song’

This South Africa spy action series should properly have gone on last year’s list, but we somehow missed it. No worries, though: The adventures of a badass secret operative, played with furious elan by Pearl Thusi, has not dated a day. The Netflix series plays with themes of South African politics, pre- and post-apartheid, but its main appeal is Thusi and the impressive action scenes throughout. (Streaming on Netflix)

Kleo

Kleo

‘Kleo’

Courtesy of Netflix

Another feminist spy thriller in heavy rotation on our Netflix account this year was this German entry. Rising star Jella Haase (Suck Me Shakespeer, Berlin Alexanderplatz) dazzles as an East German Stasi-trained assassin who spent the final days of the Cold War in a West German prison cell, only to be set free after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She then sets off, Kill Bill style, to take out the people who conspired to betray her. Kleo‘s slick style and dark ironic comedy will remind viewers of Killing Eve, but this series can stand on its own, in large part due to Hasse’s can’t-stop-watching performance. (Streaming on Netflix)

Vincenzo

Vincenzo

‘Vincenzo’

@Netflix

Gomorrah, Korean style. This epic gangster tale sees Song Joong-ki play the titular Vincenzo Cassano, a Korean-Italian mob lawyer and consigliere to the Cassano crime family who returns to Korea to find a spot to stash the mob’s assets and expand the family’s money-laundering business. Once there, however, he gets caught up in a local turf war and, unwittingly, becomes a warrior for justice. Vincenzo nails the action and thrills, even if its tonal shifts to slapstick comedy can sometimes jar. (Streaming on Netflix)

Suzhal: The Vortex

Suzhal: The Vortex

‘Suzhal: The Vortex’

@Amazon-Studios

This murder mystery takes the Nordic Noir trope of a missing girl whose disappearance tears through a small community and reinvents it for the setting in southern India. The somber greens and greys of Denmark are replaced with the vibrant colors of Tamil Nadu as a police investigation into the case plays out over the 10 days of a temple festival. The plot is largely an excuse to explore themes of religion, superstition and industrial unrest, but the series doesn’t neglect the mechanics of the whodunnit. It’ll have you guessing up to the last reveal. (Streaming on Amazon)

Oh Hell

Oh Hell

‘Oh Hell’

@magentaTV

Arguably the best show, period, in 2022, this gem of a German dramedy channels Fleabag and Single Drunk Female in a story of 20-something Helene (Mala Emde), who is extremely self-aware, and extremely-funny, but still seemingly unable to avoid extreme acts of self-sabotage. (Streaming on HBO Max)

Reign Supreme

Reign Supreme

‘Reign Supreme’

-Jean-Claude-LOTHER-LES-FILMS-DU-BELIER-ARTE-France

Winner of this year’s best series at SeriesMania, this French drama is a deep dive into the local hip-hop scene, tracing the origin story of seminal French rap band Suprême NTM. Come for the music and stay for the ground-level look at the forces shaping France in the 1980s. (Streaming on Netflix)

Little Women

Little Woman

‘Little Women’

Taking the bare bones of Louisa May Alcott’s classic as a jumping-off point, this Korean drama follows three very different sisters who grow up poor and find themselves the target of the ultra-rich Park family when a corporate slush fund goes missing and the sisters are linked to its disappearance. Don’t expect much 19th-century romance here. This Little Women is a suspenseful, twisty tale of power, greed and deception that shows off the best of what Korean TV can do. (Streaming on Netflix)

Prisma

Prisma

‘Prisma’

@AmazonStudios

The pick of the many, many high-school dramas out there, this Italian series features Mattia Carrano in the central role as Andrea and Marco, twin brothers, identical on the outside, with very different approaches to life. The show explores all the typical YA drama — friendship, love, identity both social and sexual — but does so with a refreshing sense of patience, empathy, and discovery. (Streaming on Amazon)

Derry Girls

Derry Girls

‘Derry Girls’

Courtesy of Netflix

Lisa McGee’s cracker coming-of-age comedy had a note-perfect finish in season 2, closing with Bill Clinton’s historic visit to Derry and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. But it would be churlish to deny the cast and crew one last go-around. We could have done without the celebrity cameos — though Liam Neeson is hilarious as a put-upon local copper — but Season 3 manages to deliver the same magic mix of the personal and the political, the poignant and the hilariously absurd that made Derry Girls such a revelation. (Streaming on Netflix)

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