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7 Binge-Worthy TV Series and Telenovelas for Intermediate Spanish Learners

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    There is a ton of Spanish content on TV––you just have to know where to look.  In the US, you can find plenty of telenovelas, news shows, sports, and kids programming on both the Univision and Telemundo networks.

    Expert Tip: Call your cable provider and ask for the Latino package to get more Spanish language channel options.  You’ll find the prices are comparable to your current package, but you’ll just have more Spanish exposure!

    If you’re like me, you might be found hibernating like an oso (bear) during the cold winter months.  While you’re sitting in the bed or on the sofa wrapped in your snuggie (do they still make those?), sipping on hot cocoa (mmm, chocolate *in my Homer Simpson voice*), you’ll probably be looking for something good to watch.

    I’ve got you covered.

    Here are 7 TV series you will find entertaining, addictive, and informative.  Most importantly, they’ll increase your Spanish exposure and help you improve or maintain your level of fluency.

    1 ???? Celia

    This series is loosely based on the life of beloved Cuban singer Celia Cruz.  The characters and story will have you hooked from the first capítulo (episode), and you’ll also learn some Cuban Spanish words like asere (buddy, amigo).  The accent may take getting used to, and spoiler alert: the real life romance between Celia and Pedro wasn’t nearly as colorful as presented in the series.

    Note: Celia originally aired on Telemundo in 2015 and is available on Netflix at the time of this writing.  I’d recommend, however, that you view the series on the Telemundo website because you’ll be able to turn on accurate closed captioning in Spanish.

    2 ???? Ingobernable

    Kate del Castillo stars in this Netflix original series, a political drama based in Mexico City.  It begins with Castillo, who plays the first lady of Mexico, experiencing a shocking event that she spends the rest of the series trying to reconcile.  You’ll be exposed to the Mexican accent and slang, and after the first episode I challenge you not to binge watch the whole series.

    3 ???? Narcos

    Narcos is the wildly popular Netflix series about drug traffickers.  Although the lead actor who plays Pablo Escobar in the first season is actually Brazilian and only learned Spanish to play the role, the series is based in Colombia.  The family scenes are laughable if you’re looking for an authentic Colombian accent.  Instead, you’ll hear a variety of accents from throughout Latin America, but you’ll be so into the story you won’t really care. 

    The narration is in English but many of the scenes are in Spanish.  This is about drug trafficking so it’s full of cursing and violence, but the stories about Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel are intriguing nonetheless.  And with the recent release of Narcos Mexico, you’ll have plenty of shows to binge watch into the new year.

    4 ???? ¿Quién fue?

    This original and quirky show gives you a comical look at some of history’s most infamous figures.  The series recounts stories from their lives with hilarious reenactments (picture Ben Franklin with abs of steel).  Good for a laugh when you have some down time.

    5 ???? The Cuba Libre Story

    This series isn’t about rum and coke with a twist of lime (although that would be equally as awesome).  The Cuba Libra Story tells you all about Cuba’s struggle for freedom beyond Castro’s infamous 1959 revolution.  I’m glad I watched this before my visit to Cuba, since it tells the country’s history from their perspective.  Make sure you watch the Spanish version, although you’ll still hear English, German, and French in some of the interviews. 

    6 ???? La Reina del Sur

    Another series starring Kate del Castillo and based on the book by the same name, this is a critically acclaimed series.

    7 ???? En pocas palabras

    This docu-series covers a different topic in each episode, covering everything from fad dieting to cryptocurrency.  Each episode is also pretty short, so it’s a great show to watch if you have a little free time.  It also has the fun side effect of learning about an interesting topic.

    Caution: If you’re going to watch this (or any other show for that matter) with Spanish subtitles, be mindful that the words on the screen often won’t match the words being said by the characters.  I think the creators assume that if you’re watching the show in one language, you’d only need subtitles in another language.  This can be mildly annoying, but you’ll still get the general idea of the story.

    There you have it! Seven Spanish language shows to binge watch into 2019.  Which one is your favorite?

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