Top 5 binge-worthy Spanish tv shows to practice your Spanish

It’s a good time for Spanish TV these days, as there are more and more good quality Spanish TV shows available for your viewing pleasure.  Thank goodness we are no longer doomed to only watching telanovelas or the same ‘Destinos’ episodes we were forced to watch in Spanish class!  And now with all the online streaming availabilty they are just a click away!

We’ve assembled a list of our favorites for Spanish students and tv connoisseurs. Before you start your Spanish binge watching, here are some tips to maximize your Spanish learning:

Tip 1. Use Spanish with Spanish

That is Spanish audio with Spanish subtitles. You want to be able to at least mostly follow what’s happening and not give up out of frustration, so if it’s too difficult, the next best thing is Spanish audio with English subtitles.

Tip 2. Google Translate is Your Friend

If possible, keep your google translate open on your laptop. This may not be for everyone, but for those with quick fingers, you can immediately translate words you might otherwise miss. Often it can be done fast enough without needing to pause the show. This, only works if you are using Spanish subtitles, which allows you to quickly recognize you don’t know the word and how to spell it.

Tip 3. Watch it more than once

We don’t always watch shows more than once (unless you’re a game of thrones fan), but if you’re using these shows to practice your Spanish, you will get more out of them if you can make yourself watch them again. You can pick up new things, and once you know the plot, you have more mental space to pay attention to comprehension and detail in the dialog.

Tip 4. Expect to get lost from time to time

You’re not going to understand everything, and perfection is your enemy when learning a language.  Use the experience to stretch yourself as you to try to follow along.  Don’t be afraid to guess or makeup meanings of words and just keep going.  You may end up being wrong, but this is what you’ll have to do in real life anyway.  The advantage of watching the TV show is, if you have the patience, you can go back and understand what’s being said.


So let’s get to the Spanish TV shows! Here are our top picks for Spanish TV shows for Spanish students. They are all available on the US version of Netflix and have the option of closed caption subtitles (when the show originally produced in Spanish, you want the CC option). While we’ve verified Netflix availability, they are not all exclusively Netflix productions and are also available elsewhere. Choose the one you find most interesting and the one you’re most likely to stick with.

Note: We’re not including Narcos in our list here, only because it is not 100% Spanish language (more like 50/50), and we’ve recommended it previously.


Top 5 Spanish TV shows to binge and practice your Spanish


1. Llamame Francisco

(Call me Francis)
Setting: Argentina
imdb 7.9 
This series isn’t as religious as you might think considering it’s about the current pope.  The series chronicles a vignette in his young life in Argentina in a time when the country is torn apart by military dictator Jorge Rafael Videla.


2. Velvet

Setting: Spain (castellano)
imdb 8.2
A series with high drama taking place in a fashion house in Madrid Spain in the 1950’s.


3. Celia

Setting: Cuba
imdb 8.0
A series following the life story of Celia, who broke through the white-male dominated salsa music scene in Cuba to become the queen of salsa.


4. Lady, la vendadora de rosas

(Lady, the rose seller)
Setting: Colombia
imdb 8.9
Based on the real life of Lady Tabares, who went from poverty to fame, and then to facing prison for a horrible crime.


5. El tiempo entre costuras

(The time in between / The time between seams)
Setting: Spain (castellano)
imdb rating = 8.5 
Taking place during Spain’s civil war, the series follows the life of a young Spanish dressmaker


Special Mention: Gran Hotel

(*no longer available on Netflix or Hulu)
Setting: Spain (castellano)
imdb rating = 8.5
Having been dubbed the Spanish Downton Abbey, the series follows the drama of a family-owned hotel in the Spanish countryside, set in 1905.


One More Spanish TV Show for Beginners

Some of the above are pretty advanced and pretty fast paced Spanish, so we’re going to list one more TV series in Spanish that’s popular for Spanish students.  Its a language-learning series originally broadcast in the UK in 2002, which seems to be a bit of a Friends-style take-off.


Setting: Barcelona
imdb rating = 7.4

You can watch the first season on Youtube here

One last thing, as long as you’re already watching in English …

One last learning trick worth mentioning, which is, if you’re watching shows in English already, why not put on the Spanish subtitles. If you try to pay attention to them every now and then, you’ll start to pick up a few extra words and confirm the ones you already know, all while watching your favorite shows 😉

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