SPANISH crime drama Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) has proved a big hit with English speaking audiences around the world. Telling the story of the biggest heist in Spain’s history, when billions were stolen from the Bank of Spain, audiences were so gripped they were happy to follow the action by reading the subtitles.

Watching Spanish TV is a great way for anyone trying to learn the language to pick up new words and phrases – but it doesn’t have to feel like you’re back in school. Here is our Top 10 of shows that are great in their own right. All are in Spanish with English subtitles and available on Netflix.

  1. Ingobernable (Ungovernable)

SET in Mexico, Ingobernable focuses on a fictional First Lady as her husband attempts to govern the country. As the title suggests, plenty of murder and domestic abuse at the top of Mexico’s political system makes his job tricky. Even advanced Spanish speakers might find the subtitles useful for this one as it is full of fruity Mexican slang. Interestingly, some of Kate del Castillo’s performance as First Lady was filmed in the US because she was wanted at the time by Mexican authorities for having met with drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán while he was on the run.

Ingobernable
Ingobernable is a Mexican political drama. Photo: Netflix

2. La Casa de las Flores (House of Flowers)

BACK to Mexico again, though this time for something lighter. A comedy-drama, it follows a dysfunctional upper-class family which owns a florist shop and a struggling cabaret club – both called House of Flowers. It has been dubbed the ‘millennial telenovela’ and deals with themes of homophobia, transphobia and race. Three seasons of the show are available, and Netflix premiered the follow-up feature-length film in 2021. 

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Image of House of Flowers The Movie.
Photo: Cordon Press

3. Narcos

STAYING in Latin America, Narcos is the smash hit dramatisation of the rise of the Colombian cocaine trade in the late 80s. The first two seasons focus on evil but charismatic drug lord Pablo Escobar and the efforts of the CIA agents and Colombian law enforcement agencies to find him. No spoilers, but after three brilliant seasons, Narcos leaves Escobar behind and moves on to semi-fictionalise the story of the drug trade in Mexico for a further three seasons. Edge of seat stuff with a great theme tune.

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Narcos is another of the most popular series to have gripped foreign viewers.
Photo: Cordon Press

4. Jaguar

NOT wildlife, but a good watch for anyone interested in Spain’s history, Jaguar is set in Francoist Spain and delves into the country’s murky past as a haven for Nazis fleeing Germany. The plot follows a Spanish survivor of Mauthausen concentration camp who had been forced as a child to work as a maid in the household of a Nazi responsible for killing her father. We fast forward to the 1960s to find her teamed up a group of Nazi hunters and seeking revenge. 

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Jaguar is a thrilling historical drama.
Photo: Cordon Press

5. Las Chicas del Cable (Cable Girls)

A Spanish period drama about four young women starting a job in a spanking modern telecommunications company in Madrid in the 1920s. The five seasons of Cable Girls follow their blossoming friendships, and the new level of independence working gives them in the old-fashioned and male-dominated Spain of the time. 

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Spain´s take on the period drama.
Photo: Cordon Press

6. Valeria

NOW for romance: Valeria centres on a writer who, feeling something is missing in her work and personal life, turns to three female friends who guide her through the problematic areas of love, friendship and jealousy, and give her hope for the future. The hugely successful first season of this rom-com premiered in 2020, followed by a second in 2021. Fans will be happy to know, a third series is currently in the works.

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Valeria is a Spanish rom-com to get stuck into.
Photo: Cordon Press

7. Elite

A teen-thriller anyone can watch, Elite is set in Spain. Three working class teenagers win scholarships for a top private school, and class clashes with their new peers ensue. Addictive and pretty low-brow, this series is a guilty pleasure. During the course of the five seasons, you’ll also have a great opportunity to spot locations and pick up lots of new Spanish youth slang. 

8. White Lines

Described as an ‘escapist watch’, White Lines is set in the rave scene of Ibiza, with some scenes shot in Manchester. The dramatic plot follows the murder of Manchester-born DJ Axel Collins whose body is found, two decades later, on the property of the wealthiest family in Ibiza. From the creators of Money Heist, a gripping story line and authentic club scenes will keep British viewers especially hooked. The characters are mostly expats and the show’s dialogue switches between Spanish and English – so you don’t have to concentrate quite so hard.

White Lines
White Lines will allow many British viewers to reminicse on memories of Ibiza.
Photo: Netflix

9. Brigada Costa del Sol (Costa del Sol Brigade)

A police detective series set in the 1970s, Brigada Costa del Sol centres around a group of detectives chosen to set up a special drug-fighting unit on a limited budget. Based in Torremolinos and around the Costa del Sol, it should provide a bit of nostalgia for older British expats. The antics seem crazy but the plot is based on the true story of one of Spain’s first anti-narcotic squads. 

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The cast of Brigada Costa del Sol.
Photo: Cordon Press

10. Nailed it! Spain

If you are missing the UK´s Great British Bake Off, you’ll enjoy Nailed it! Spain’s answer to the mouthwatering cookery show doesn’t have a Mary Berry, but it does have plenty of enthusiastic novice bakers from across Spain willing to compete for a €5000 prize. The talent bar is set lower than Bake Off’s and the challenges are not as ambitious, but the contestants are entertaining, and there’s comedic value in the ever-present possibility of a fiasco round the corner.

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Spain´s answer to the Great British Bake-off. Photo: Netflix

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