German-produced TV series suck. Even Germans are quick to admit it. However, if you pay close attention, you can find a diamond in the rough every once in a while.
I love TV. Unfortunately, it seems like 99% of what German TV stations broadcast is either American or British TV series or horrible German reality shows. Over the past few years, however, I have found some favorites.
Here is my list of the top 5 best German TV shows:
Der Tatortreinger (crime scene cleaner) is a show all about Heiko Schotte (better known as Schotty), and the interesting situations and people he encounters as he simply tries to go about his job as Tatortreiniger. I love this show for its character-driven plot and dark humor.
I also have to admit that I have a bit of a crush on Schotty, who is a walking German stereotype with his blond hair, blue eyes, love of Hamburg SV, and Tatort (see #3) ring tone. Watch the show, then maybe you will understand.
2. Türkisch für Anfänger
This is the #1 series that always shows up on lists about great German TV shows, and season 1 is definitely a must-see (especially for my fellow immigrants living in Germany). Unfortunately, the show goes downhill from there. Season 2 is pretty good, season 3 is bearable, and season 4 was almost unwatchable (although I did watch it). There is also a movie that was created after the TV series ended, but I never watched it, as I doubt it is worth the time.
Tatort (crime scene) is the THE German TV series. In fact, I am pretty sure if you do not watch Tatort within the first 90 days of receiving your residence permit, you are deported from the country.
As you can guess from the name, Tatort is a crime show, but it was created with a unique approach: Each of the local public-service TV broadcasters throughout Germany, Austria, and Switzerland contribute episodes. This means that each week, you are treated to a unique story in a different city. This also means that some episodes are amazing while some are pretty bad – regular watchers always have their favorite cities and police commissioners.
The show airs Sunday evenings at 8:15 p.m. and has been since 1970, making it Germany’s longest-running TV drama.
4. Doctor’s Diary
As Netflix always like to remind me, I am a fan of “TV series with a strong female lead,” and this show has just that (kind of). Doctor’s Diary is about Margarete Haase (also known as Gretchen), who begins working in a hospital after breaking up with her fiance. There are two male love interests, making it a bit of a stereotypical medical drama. I must also admit that I have only seen a few episodes of this show (there are 3 seasons total). However, I tend to despise German comedy (I am looking at you, Stromberg), and I found this show surprisingly funny. So, it is definitely worth a a watch for any romantic comedy fans out there.
5. Bauer sucht Frau
Yes, this is a reality show. Yes, Bauer sucht Frau does mean “farmer looking for a wife.” Yes, this is technically a dating show. But let me explain myself!
Unlike “The Bachelor” or spin-off versions of Bauer sucht Frau from other countries, Germany’s Bauer sucht Frau is more like a human interest story than a dating show. There are several candidates (farmers) each season, and each get to choose one partner at the beginning of the show. They can then take this partner back to their farm, where they live and work together, and, just maybe, find love.
Cheesy? Yes. But it is also hilarious and, at times, heart-warming. Best of all, you get to hear all kinds of crazy hillbilly dialects that you probably won’t understand a word of (lucky there are subtitles for most of them). If I haven’t convinced you yet, just take a look at the farmers from the 2015 season!