Luna Nera in black letters on a white background with a faded grey moon in the corner top of the picture.

Shows worth reading subtitles for

By Timia Cobb
Web Content Contributor

It’s sad to say that many people didn’t even want to read subtitles until late 2019 when “Parasite” won multiple awards and was raved about by everyone.

However, when “Parasite” gained the attention it deserved it also brought awareness to how western countries purposely ignore non-english speaking shows or movies. 

For years US film and TV companies have made foregin speaking films/shows into remakes, downplaying and disrespecting the original works. Now that “Parasite” has encouraged people to watch foreign shows and movies hopefully more people will be open to the amazing productions out there that may require subtitles.

That being said here are some extraordinary shows that are worth reading subtitles for. 

“Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo”

“Scarlet Heart Ryeo” is the best show I’ve ever watched. It’s not the best Korean drama or English show, but the best show ever, period. “Scarlet Heart” holds a huge space in my heart and it deserves every inch of it.

The cast, the soundtrack, the costumes, the emotional hiatus it put me through, this show is the epitome of TV shows.

“Scarlet Heart” is a Korean drama about a 25-year-old who is transported through time to the Goryeo dynasty and takes the body of a servant named Hae Soo. Hae Soo soon becomes close to a family of very handsome princes.

The synopsis might sound like a cheesy basic romance show but “Scarlet Heart” is way more than that. It’s a historical drama that’s filled with betrayal, action, anticipation, excitement, and heartbreak.

The cast is also filled with all-stars. The lead actress that plays Hae Soo is IU, has been described as Korea’s princess. She’s a phenomenal actress and singer. Her two love interests are played by Lee Joon-gi and Kang Ha-neul, who deliver their roles so amazingly that it has become hard for me to watch them in anything else.

Other members of the cast include Baekhyun, a member of the K-pop group EXO, Ji Soo who’s known for his roles in “My First First Love” and “Strong Girl Bong‑Soon” and Nam Joo-hyuk.

“Scarlet Heart” will leave you emotionally conflicted by the end of the series. Everyone has their own interpretation of the ending which is what I think makes it amazing. Not everyone ends the series feeling the same way because the show brings out so many emotions that not everyone is going to interpret the same.

“Elite”

I want to say “Elite” is in my top five teen shows I’ve watched in a long time but because of the high amount of nudity, drugs, and murder I don’t think it’s actually “teen-friendly.” However, that doesn’t stop it from being a good show.

“Elite” amazed me because I binge-watched it in three days. It’s the quickest show I’ve ever watched that wasn’t in English. The show was so good I honestly forgot I was reading subtitles.

The show is about three students who gain scholarships to an elite school filled with kids from some of Spain’s richest families. This show left me on the edge of my seat.

Sometimes in a show, you don’t like some characters or the plot and find yourself skipping through it because you don’t care, however, that’s not the case with “Elite.” Every character is likable and their story is worth watching.

 I won’t give spoilers, but once you start watching you’ll become addicted to the drama in these teenagers’ lives.

I love that the show is diverse–some of the most powerful characters on the show are women. There’s also Muslim and LBGTQ+ representation. “Elite” does a good job of not making sexuality a huge issue for a same-sex couple in the show. Their relationship doesn’t seem forced and it’s accepted by most of the characters.

“Sexy Central”

“Sexy Central” is the Cantonese version of  “Sex and The City” and I’m here for it. The show deals with five successful women juggling their careers, relationships, and friendships.

 It’s a very enjoyable show that a lot of people won’t ever watch because they don’t think reading subtitles are worth it or find an interest in watching a show about women they have nothing in common with.

However, “Sexy Central” is definitely worth the watch. It’s funny and each episode is only 25 minutes long, making the first season quick to finish.

I instantly fell in love with the show and the characters due to their unique personalities. They all are successful women from good backgrounds but each uniquely different which is nice to see.

This show also has some culture shock. I’m used to most East Asian shows being very conservative and PG-13 but “Sexy Central” doesn’t hold back.

“Sexy Central” has become my go-to show whenever I want to watch something quick and funny. It’s certainly worth checking out.

“Kingdom”

I’ve always been a fan of gore, so “Kingdom” is the show I’ve always wanted. The balance between gore, action, and dialogue is mind-blowing in this show.

“Kingdom” also has some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen on a TV show. The cinematography itself makes you fall in love with it.

The plot of the show is about a prince who is outcasted due to a political conspiracy against his stepmother, the queen, and his step mother’s clan who will do anything to keep power.

When the king falls ill and dies the queen brings him back and changes him into an undead being. She does this because if the king is still alive it allows her to still be in power.

However, her plan goes terribly wrong when the king’s illness spreads, causing an army of the undead to prey on their kingdom. This leaves the prince to be the only one to stop the queen and protect his kingdom.

“Kingdom” is completely different from most historical dramas. It’s not every day you see a zombie show based in medieval Korea and actually be good.

The show’s cast also has actors who are more known in western media such as Bae Doona, who has had roles in Cloud Atlas and Sense 8.

“Kingdom” is a must-watch because of how unique the plot is and the outstanding cast.

“Luna Nera”

“Luna Nera” deserves to be as talked about as “The Witcher.” This show admittedly had me hooked.

It–unlike many fantasy shows–doesn’t have long drawn out scenes that are boring with various plot holes. The show is filled with action, magic, witches and more.

“Luna Nera” is about a small town in 17th century Italy that believes it has a witch problem. One day the main character, Ade, is helping her grandmother, a midwife, deliver a child when she senses the baby is dying. She becomes aware of her powers and soon learns her life isn’t what she thought it to be.

The only reason I started watching this show was that it was suggested to me on Netflix and I’m kind of upset about it. What I mean by this is that this show is amazing.

From the acting, the suspense and emotion to the beautiful settings, it is most definitely underappreciated. The reason for this could be that Netflix didn’t do “Luna Nera” enough justice when promoting it.

When you look up trailers for the show there isn’t a single trailer that provides subtitles and the only trailer that can be found is on the Netflix Italia account.

The show revolves around women empowerment, witches and sisterhood, which is something a lot of people would love to watch. Hopefully, Netflix isn’t setting “Luna Nera” up to fail because it is a remarkable show that’s worth multiple seasons.

I love the strong female leads in the show, even the protagonist happens to be a woman. “Luna Nera” makes men out to be seen as the sidekicks or secondary characters, which isn’t something seen regularly in shows today.

Each of these shows might never be praised due to them not being in English, which is unfair. The US reuses and distributes the same show and movie ideas every year.

Audiences should venture out into the world of film and see that amazing shows/movies exist, they just might not be in the language you speak. 

Featured image by Timia Cobb via Netflix screenshot.

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