Inside: A guide to top series and recommendations for Spanish shows on Netflix.
As Netflix’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, they’ve been busy expanding their selection of Spanish-language shows.
And these aren’t limited to your grandma’s soapy telenovelas, either: today, Netflix has something riveting in Spanish for everyone. With shows set in Spain and across Latin America, you can find everything from BBC-type dramas to reality TV.
I’m a Spanish-speaking mom and teacher, but not a native speaker. I still need lots of Spanish input. And lucky for me, improving my language skills can be as easy as setting the audio and subtitles to Spanish, and getting into a good Spanish series.
Remember that Netflix regularly adds and pulls shows– just let me know if you catch something I should update. I also have a whole page dedicated to lists of movies in Spanish for your Friday nights, in case you need more ideas! Below, I’ve included trailers so you can take a peek at each one, and fill up your Netflix queues with binge-worthy series.
One more note: this list was not created for teachers wanting Spanish shows to watch in class, with learners. If that’s you, don’t worry! I have a whole post on Spanish TV shows to use in class and for learners.
SPANISH SHOWS ON NETFLIX: WHAT TO WATCH
Ready? Let’s get started.
1. LA CASA DE PAPEL
The massively popular show Money Heist, as it’s known in English, is now the #1 Original Foreign Show on Netflix. A group of burglars joins together to pull off the most daring robbery in the history of Spain. The original plan was to pull of the perfect crime: an infiltration of the Royal Mint of Spain, that would leave them rich and leave no victims. As plans go awry, relationships and loyalty are tested in this psychological thriller.
Set in Spain, Watch if you liked Breaking Bad, The Italian Job, or Inception.
This is a gorgeous series if you like period pieces and don’t mind a little soapy drama. The main two character weren’t actually my favorites: what makes the show are the supporting characters. The aesthetics, clever dialogue, and lively personalities, make this one of my personal favorite Spanish shows on Netflix. (Velvet Colección, a spin-off series, is now available as well!)
Set in Spain. Watch if you liked Mad Men and Downton Abbey.
3. CLUB DE CUERVOS
A dysfunctional brother-sister combo are left in charge of a football team in this dramady. Club de Cuervos is one of the few Spanish-language TV shows I’ve found that taps into more ironic and dry modern humor. Irreverent, but also complex, funny, and memorable. (This was one of those shows I initially wrote off, then totally got into. The first episode is fairly explicit but gets a tamer as the series goes on.)
Set in Mexico. Watch if you’d like a combo of Orange is the New Black, Parks and Rec, and a touch of House of Cards.
4. ALTA MAR
Smuggled passengers. Buried family secrets. Romance, intrigue, stormy seas, an 600 passengers on luxury shop bound for Brazil would make for an interesting enough voyage– until the murders begin. This murder mystery set in the 1940’s will remind you of the show Velvet, with gorgeous scenery and plenty of drama to go around, though with faster-paced storytelling and more suspense.
Spanish cast, set on the Atlantic Ocean. Watch if you liked Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Agathie Christie.
5. SIEMPRE BRUJA
Starring an Afro-Colombian time-traveling witch, Siempre Bruja mixes the feel of a historical telenovela with modern supernatural twists. Carmen, a slave living in the 17th century, is condemned to be burned at the stake after her owners discover she and their son are in love. Carmen makes a deal to with a wizard and finds herself in modern-day Cartagena, where she must navigate her new surroundings on the condition that she not use her powers. Pros: the series features a black women as the lead, with a strong cast and gorgeous scenery. It’s much cleaner than most shows and could work to show in high school classes. Cons: there is so much potential with the story, but the show delivers a shallow treatment of serious themes, depending on more than one racial cliché along the way.
Set in Colombia. Watch if you liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Arrow, or Alias Grace.
6. LUIS MIGUEL
A dramatized telling of Luis Miguel’s life and rise to fame as the Sol de México. The story moves between his early years of stardom and childhood, exploring the disappearance of his mother and tortured relationship with his father. Not an easy watch in terms of the family dynamics, but Luis Miguel just might be a breath of fresh air for viewers looking for a violence-free Latin American show.
Set mainly in Mexico. Watch if you liked Nashville or Empire.
Starring the iconic Kate del Castillo as the first lady of Mexico, Ingobernable begins as her world is turned upside down and she finds herself running for her life. Accused of assassinating her husband, she must find her way outside her life of wealth and power, prove her innocence, and untangle the web of corruption gripping the Mexican presidency.
Set in Mexico. Watch if you liked House of Cards, The Good Wife, Narcos or Breaking Bad.
8. LA NIÑA
Based on real-life events, La niña tells the incredible story of a girl forcibly recruited by the guerillas in Colombia, who then escapes and tries to reintegrate into society. Although she manages to reunite with her family and even gets into medical school, her past haunts her. Unlike many of the other series in this list, it gives a in-depth look into everyday life for working-class families in Latin America.
Set in Colombia. Watch if you’d like Grey’s Anatomy, Jessica Jones, and a bit of telenovela drama mixed together.
8. GRAN HOTEL
Here’s your really well-done telenovela that even my action-loving husband couldn’t stop watching. Full of intrigue and mystery, it’s got plenty of the novela qualities– but with a solid story and characters to back it up. Like Velvet, the supporting characters are the best part of the story.
Set in Spain. Watch if you liked Downton Abbey and Poldark.
9. EL MINISTERIO DEL TIEMPO
El Ministerio del Tiempo is a top-secret time-travel agency that functions loosely under the government of Spain. As the series opens, three new agents join forces to guard the doors of time: a 16th-century soldier, a 21st-century paramedic, and a 19th-century student. This one is packed with history and art as the trio defends time itself, preventing intruders from using time travel for their own gain.
Set in Spain, mostly. Watch if you liked Dr. Who, The Last Kingdom, or Orphan Black.
10. LAS CHICAS DEL CABLE
From the creators of Gran Hotel and Velvet, this show is packed with favorite actors from both shows, as well as El Barco and El Internado. It follows 4 women who work for a cable company in the 20’s, a turbulent time of old traditions vs. progressivism.I have a love-hate relationship with this one, but check it out if you like gorgeous period dramas, with lots of drama.
Set in Spain. Watch if you liked Peaky Blinders, Mad Men, or Downton Abbey.
11. MOROCCO: TIEMPOS DE GUERRA
Set in the 1920’s, a group of wealthy nurses is sent to the Moroccan front during the Rif War and must adapt to the harsh conditions and reality of wartime. If you weren’t ready to let Gran Hotel go, Cristina is back as the star of this romantic drama.
Set in Morocco and Spain. Watch if you liked Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, or Land Girls.
12. SOR JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ
A look at the life of Juana Ines, an outspoken nun in the 17th century who was a self-taught scholar, philosopher, and poet.
Set in Mexico. Watch if you liked The Crown and Alias Grace.
13. LA CASA DE FLORES
La Casa de Flores is an interesting mix of traditional soap elements (a wealthy, socialite family plagued by past misdeeds and secrets) and modern comedy, and has quickly become one of the most-watched Spanish shows on Netflix. The series begins as the family is celebrating their renowned Flower Shop’s anniversary, when their father’s secret mistress ends her life, but leaves behind letters exposing his double life.
Set in Mexico. Watch if you liked Transparent, Arrested Developmetn, and Modern Family.
14. GO! VIVE A TU MANERA
Thought there weren’t any G-rated shows in Spanish on Netflix? Think again! A new Argentinian show, Go! is a musical series from the same producers of Violetta and Soy Luna created for a young audience. Mía Cáceres is a talented young singer who gets a scholarship to Saint Mary, an elite prep school with a prestigious music program. There she meets both friends and arch-enemies (namely, the daughter of the school’s owners who is determined to sabotage her musical dreams).
Set in Argentina. Watch if you liked Glee.
15. EL CHAPO
It’s a reasonable criticism that too many shows/movies paint Latin America as full of drugs, violence, etc. And this show was hard to watch for the violence, same as Pablo Escobar. This one is well-done, in my opinion, and provides the history of El Chapo’s rise to power. (It’s interesting to watch alongside Kate del Castillo’s documentary “The Day I Met Chapo,” also available on Netflix).
Set in Mexico. Watch if you liked Narcos and Ozark.
Learn the story behind the Queen of Salsa: how she began her career in the tumultuous years of Cuba in the 50’s, and eventually rose to be one of the top salsa performers of all time. Gorgeous filming and music in this series.
Set mostly in Cuba. Watch if you liked Luis Miguel.
Three scholarship students begin their first year at an elite school in Spain, attended by students from the wealthiest families in Spain. We quickly find out that one of the police are investigating a student murder, and each episode is presented as a flashback. (Although this series has so much potential as it explores race, class, and religion, I was a put off by the depiction of explicit situations these supposed teens are in. Definitely TV-MA.)
Set in Spain. Watch if you liked 13 Reasons Why, Orange is the New Black, or Dynasty.
18. LA REINA DEL FLOW
Yeimy is a talented 17-year-old from a working-class neighborhood, with big dreams of a life dedicated to music. After her parents are killed by a narco, she is betrayed by a close friend and loses 17 years of her life to prison under false accusation. When she finally leaves, she can think of nothing but revenge– and must alter her life completely in order to get it.
Set in Colombia. Watch if you liked Empire and/or Revenge.
19. EL INTERNADO
Set in a remote boarding school, both students and teachers become involved in uncovering dark secrets from the school’s past, as strange events begin to occur in this mystery-thriller.
Set in Spain.
20. NAILED IT! MEXICO
Contestants who don’t really know how to bake have to recreate masterpieces in the kitchen, in competition for $10,000. Light and funny.
Set in Mexico.
An unorthodox philosophy teacher tries to open up the worlds of his students, a diverse group of teens that includes his own estranged son. Each show features a particular philosopher.
Set in Spain. Watch if you liked Dead Poet’s Society.
22. EL BARCO
Another Spanish mystery, El barco follows a group of young people on a boat during a global cataclysm, who believe themselves to be the only people left on earth. We got really into this one initially, though my interest waned a bit with the extreme drama every episode, hah. If you liked El internado and Gran hotel, you’ll probably like this one!
Set in Spain. Watch if you like Lost.
23. MADE IN MEXICO
Can’t get enough of reality TV in English? Made in Mexico follows 9 Mexican “socialites” whose lives connect in some way, and who move within the wealthy circles of Mexico City. The camera shifts between their public interactions (brunches, dates, chats in nightclubs, family get-togethers), the drama that ensues, and subsequent interviews off-stage. Made in Mexico represents an interesting expansion of Spanish shows on Netflix beyond dramas.
Set in Mexico. Watch if you liked Real Housewives or following the Kardashians.
24. EL REEMPLAZANTE
Just out of prison, a former executive becomes a math teacher on parole.
Set in Chile.
25. EL TIEMPO ENTRE COSTURAS
Set during the Spanish Civil War, El tiempo entre costuras follows a seamstress whose life is turned upside down after being conned by a lover and left in Morocco. As she makes a new life, she is caught up between spies in Franco’s Spain. This is one of my very favorites, and I’ve used it in class along with a study of the Spanish Civil War. Set in Spain and Morocco.
Set in Morocco and Spain. Watch if you like BBC WWII dramas, or Downton Abbey.
26. BALA LOCA
In this political thriller, a group of journalists join together to fight corruption in post-Pinochet Chile, led by veteran journalist Mauro Murillo (who has suffered an accident and is now confined to a wheelchair). As they form their online newspaper, one journalist is murdered. Mauro’s investigation into her death reveals a dark web of corruption between government, businesses and people.
Set in Chile Watch if you liked The Blacklist, Homeland, or House of Cards.
27. PABLO ESCOBAR: EL PATRÓN DEL MAL
If you binged your way through Narcos, you really should give this one a watch. While Narcos narrates from a American perspective, Pablo Escobar is told directly from the Colombian and provides an extensive, gripping look into the life and legacy of Escobar. Though not a historical documentary, it is very well done and I highly recommend it.
Set in Colombia. Watch if you liked Narcos, Breaking Bad, and shows from the History Channel.
28. MAR DE PLÁSTICO
A detective searches for answers after the murder of a girl in southern Spain. The region is called the “plastic sea,” from so many greenhouses in the area. The drama unfolds against the backdrop of interracial conflicts between the workers in the greenhouses.
Set in Spain.
29. SILVANA SIN LANA
A wealthy family’s life comes crashing down when the dad leaves and their fortune is lost. The mother must get a real job and the kids have to adjust to a “normal” life.
Set in the U.S..
30. SOBREVIVIENDO A ESCOBAR
If you haven’t gotten your fill of narco-theme shows, Sobreviviendo Pablo Escobar was a fascinating follow-up to Pablo Escobar (and Narcos). It details what happened the Escobar’s people and rival cartels after his death.
Set in Colombia. Watch if you like Narcos.
31. LA ESCLAVA BLANCA
A white woman is rescued from death and raised by slaves in Colombia. She must impersonate a rich marchioness and marry a wealthy American in order to return one day and bring justice to those who saved her life.
Set in Colombia and Spain.
Did I miss any of your favorite Spanish shows on Netflix? Leave your favorites in the comments!
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