Highest rated TV show from 25 countries

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July 7, 2021

Highest rated TV show from 25 countries

The United States may be home to the Entertainment Capital of the World, but it doesn't have the market cornered on producing great pictures. In recent years, streaming services have diversified their offerings by adding a host of international films and television series and demonstrating some excellent work being produced in countries all over the world.

China and Pakistan are known for their dramas, while no one does whodunits like the U.K. Turkey's dizi (technically longform soap operas) are so stunningly popular, they helped the country become second only to the U.S. in terms of television distribution in 2019. Other countries are also exporting more TV, with the United States recently becoming a key market for foreign-language shows. Streaming services, in particular, have added a number of international series, from smash hits like "Narcos" to more quiet releases like "Dark" and "The Returned," to their platforms.

In celebration of the increased diversity of the small screen, Stacker identified the #1 rated TV show on IMDb in 25 different countries and listed them in order of country name. Voting thresholds for each country are relative to the data available for TV shows in that country.

Keep reading on to discover some of the best international shows out there, from Argentina's "Pretenders" to Yugoslavia's "Top lista nadrealista."

Argentina: Pretenders

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Years on the air: 2002–2004

Although it only aired for two seasons, “Pretenders” was one of the most awarded series to ever run on Argentinian TV. The show follows four con men who use their special set of skills to solve a variety of problems for ordinary people through simulations. A number of “Pretenders” remakes have been produced in countries like Russia, Spain, Mexico, and Chile.

Belgium: Het Eiland

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Years on the air: 2004–2005

Het Eiland” is a Flemish series that’s very similar to “The Office.” The sitcom follows three co-workers and friends, one of whom is promoted when the boss leaves and is replaced by a strange character who throws the office vibe for a loop. The actors give a refreshing spin on dull office life with zingy one-liners and distinctive Belgian humor that made "Het Eiland" a hit with audiences.

Brazil: The Mechanism

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Years on the air: 2018–present

Netflix quietly released the first season of Brazil’s “The Mechanism” in 2018, but the crime series didn’t fly under the radar for long. The drama follows police investigations into corruption in the government and the highest levels of society in Brazil. While many of the names and major identifying details have been changed, the show tells a mostly true story about events that have unfolded in the South American country over the past few years and even briefly inspired a #deleteNetflix campaign on Brazilian twitter.

Canada: Anne With an E

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Years on the air: 2017–2019

“Anne With an E,” the most recent adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s children’s classic “Anne of Green Gables,” premiered on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television before it was made available to stream internationally on Netflix. Fans loved the series for how closely it adhered to its source material while also tackling tough topics like racism, religion, and freedom of speech through the stories of additional characters, the likes of whom aren’t often seen on TV. When the show was canceled after its third season, fans around the world launched a guerilla-style campaign against Netflix and the CBC in an effort to get them to reconsider and keep the show on the air.

Colombia: Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Years on the air: 2012

A telenova that explores the life and crimes of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, “Pablo Escobar: El Patrón del Mal” only aired for a single season in 2012. Despite its short run, the 113 episodes manage to cover Escobar’s life from childhood to death in a great amount of detail. Interestingly, the series' creators Camilo Cano and Juana Uribe have direct ties to the cartel leader. These connections lend the series a more authentic feel than many others series about Escobar’s life.

Croatia: Crazy, Confused, Normal

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Years on the air: 2007–2021

Three generations of the Fazlinovic family live in an apartment together and often find themselves in wild and hilarious situations on “Crazy, Confused, Normal.” The comedy managed to attract Eastern European fans of all generations and inspired a spinoff that premiered in April 2021.

Egypt: Paranormal

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Years on the air: 2020–present

The first Netflix Original from Egypt, “Paranormal” is based on the novels of Ahmed Khaled Tawfik, one of the country’s bestselling authors. The six-part series is about Dr. Refaat Ismail, a hematologist in the ’60s who frequently encounters paranormal occurrences. It’s an anthology show that, while commonplace and kind of odd, has been described as addictive and super fun.

Germany: Babylon Berlin

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Years on the air: 2017–present

Vox critic Emily VanDerWerff called Germany’s “Babylon Berlin” “so much better than just about any other major drama being produced today.” The show, set in the 1920s, follows a young police inspector who investigates strange and twisted cases that are often driven by conspiracies and an unstable government. Fast-paced, complex, and funny, the series—based on Volker Kutscher’s series of novels—is, to date, the most expensive non-English language show to have been produced.

Hungary: Magyar népmesék

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Years on the air: 1980–2012

This animated series covers a slew of Hungarian folk tales from various regions of the country. In 2017, all of the episodes were dubbed in English and uploaded to YouTube, which led to a resurgence in the series’ popularity and gave the show a much wider reach than it had when it was first on the air.

India: Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

- IMDb user rating: 9.5
- Years on the air: 2020

Millennials love a good true-crime tale, which could explain why “Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story" did so well. The series, set in Bombay during the ’80s and ’90s, follows the crimes and scams of "The Big Bull" Harshad Mehta, who drove the stock market to dizzying heights before it crashed—leaving thousands bankrupt and making Mehta the most-wanted man in India. Based on a book that covered the case by journalists Sucheta Dalal and Debashish Basu, the series was praised by critics for feeling lived-in and realistic without glorifying Mehta’s actions and intentions.

Iran: Happy Hour

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- Years on the air: 1994–1995

Iran’s “Saate Khosh” or “Joyful Hour” is an hour-long series starring Mehran Modiri, who has since become one of the country’s most famous comedians and entertainers. Episodes mocked the misery of working in government and launched several comedians' careers. The show, among Iran's first sitcoms, was a hit with fans but caused swift backlash: The cast was blacklisted after the show's conclusion; Modiri was banned from acting for three years.

Ireland: Love/Hate

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Years on the air: 2010–2014

A gritty series about Ireland’s criminal underworld, “Love/Hate” has been compared to “The Wire” in terms of content and tone. In everything else, like dialogue and setting, the show is distinctly Irish and is a moving portrait of a city in crisis. The plot centers around a former small-time criminal who returns to Dublin from Spain, swearing to himself that he’s changed, only to quickly fall back into old patterns, routines, and friends.

Israel: Shtisel

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Years on the air: 2013–present

“Shtisel,” an Israeli series about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family, became an international hit after it began streaming on Netflix in 2018. The show provides a unique look into this conservative world, which many viewers of other faiths have never before had the opportunity to see. Between its attention to detail and universal themes of love, longing, and familial loyalty, it’s no surprise that “Shtisel” became a smash hit, even getting a third season years after the first two were released.

Italy: My Brilliant Friend

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Years on the air: 2018–present

“My Brilliant Friend” is a TV adaptation of the Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante. It tells the story of two women's coming of age and the friendship–and sometimes enmity–that exists between them in 1950s-and-beyond Naples, Italy. The show is available in the United States on HBO.

Japan: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Years on the air: 2009–2012

The second anime series based on the “Fullmetal Alchemist” manga, the “Brotherhood” series more closely followed the original storyline than its predecessor. The show is about two brothers who attempt to use alchemy to revive their deceased mother, but mess up the magic and damage their own bodies instead. They set out to find the Philosopher’s Stone in order to right everything, and are forced to betray their own values along the way.

Mexico: El Chavo del Ocho

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Years on the air: 1972–1983

At the height of its success, “El Chavo del Ocho” garnered an estimated 350 million viewers per episode, the vast majority of whom lived in Latin America. The series is about a poor, orphaned boy and his many friends who often cause chaos in the low-income Mexican neighborhood they live in. All of the characters in the series are played by adult actors, who lend an air of nuance and sympathy to the otherwise flat roles, and who helped to establish the series as a cultural touchstone.

Morocco: Farouk Omar

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Years on the air: 2012

Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph of the Islamic State, is the focus of “Farouk Omar,” a 30-episode dramatic miniseries. The show follows al-Khattab from his pre-conversion days through his assassination. While its historical content wasn’t controversial, the miniseries was banned in many countries for its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad and other important religious figures. The series first aired during Ramadan in 2012 and has since been dubbed into several different languages.

Netherlands: The Kingdom

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Years on the air: 1994–2022

“The Kingdom” is a series about the most technologically advanced hospital in all of Denmark. After a series of strange happenings, the scientifically minded staff all become convinced that the hospital is haunted by supernatural beings. So far, two seasons of the show have been produced—in 1994 and 1997—and while a third series is rumored to be in the works with a 2022 release date, it seems a number of cast deaths may actually keep it from becoming a reality.

New Zealand: Flight of the Conchords

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Years on the air: 2007–2009

Folk duo Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement play fictionalized versions of themselves in this early ’00s sitcom. “Flight of the Conchords” follows the pair's move to New York and as the musicians' attempt to take over the city’s local music scene by making the world’s best music video. A cult classic, the show won 10 Emmy Award nominations in its final season.

Russia: Kukhnya

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Years on the air: 2012–2016

Set in a Moscow restaurant, “Kukhnya” follows the misadventures of an aspiring chef and his various co-workers. The comedy was insanely popular in a number of former Soviet Union countries and even inspired feature-length films and a spinoff series.

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South Africa: Black Sails

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Years on the air: 2014–2017

A prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” “Black Sails” is a historical drama that features many somewhat fictionalized stories of some of antiquity’s most notable pirates. Chock full of memorable characters, romance, violence, and political intrigue, the show picked up steam in its later seasons, quickly becoming a fan favorite and award winner. In 2017, after four seasons, the show came to a natural conclusion, much to the chagrin of die-hard fans.

Sri Lanka: Koombiyo

- IMDb user rating: 9.5
- Years on the air: 2017–2018

In “Koombiyo,” two con artists make a living by exploiting the many weaknesses of society. At one point, the crime thriller series was so popular with fans that it outranked shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Wire” with viewers.

Tunisia: Harga

- IMDb user rating: 9.7
- Years on the air: 2021–present

One of the newest series on the list, “Harga” highlights the perilous journey many desperate immigrants take from Tunisia to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. The first season of the emotional drama dives into the many reasons folks leave home and flee everything they know in order to start over fresh. While a follow-up season has yet to be announced, the show’s high ratings seem to indicate that there will be one sometime in the near future.

Turkey: Leyla and Mecnun

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Years on the air: 2011–2021

Set in Istanbul, “Leyla and Mecnun” tells the love story of its two titular main characters. The surreal, absurdist comedy was canceled after the Gezi Park protests in 2013, and its original finale was never aired, although aspects of it were included in the pilot episode of a spinoff series called “Ben de Ozledim”. However, the series is set to return thanks to the incessant campaigning from international fans.

Yugoslavia: Top lista nadrealista

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Years on the air: 1984–1991

Best described as the Yugoslavian answer to “Monty Python,” “Top lista nadrealista” is a satirical, sketch comedy series about the dissolving kingdom. Viewers indicate that the humor may only appeal to those who grew up in the region, but also identify it as a cultural touchstone for a certain generation that lived through the events the show often pokes fun at.

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