From “Dark” to “The Empress”: German TV continues with hit shows

Germany is probably not the first country that comes to mind when talking about must-see TV, however, the recent wave of German-language shows becoming international hits may have changed that notion and put the European nation’s television on the map.

Previously best known for war-related cinematic epics like “The Boat” and “Downfall,” the country’s shows have consistently ranked among Netflix’s top foreign-language series for quite some time now.

The historical drama “The Empress,” a miniseries by Katharina Eyssen depicting the life of Elisabeth of Austria is currently even ranked number one and has already aired for a total of 106.6 million hours, according to Netflix.

The rise of German television in the international market probably began about five years ago, with the release of “Babylon Berlin”, a series set in the Weimar Republic, and “Dark”, a mysterious series of sci-fi thrillers that begin with the disappearance of a child.

Both productions were quickly studied by viewers around the world.

A more recent German series, “Kleo”, even received praise from none other than Stephen King. “What a breath of fresh air! Suspenseful and also very funny,” the cult horror author wrote on Twitter in August.

In the Tarantino-style Netflix production, a hitman formerly employed by East Germany’s Stasi state security service played by Jella Haase seeks revenge after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

And Netflix already has another project in the works, the mystery series “1899” which is slated for release on November 17. Created by the creators of “Dark”, it would not be surprising if the production soon topped the charts. .

But what is the reason for the new international popularity of German television? Interesting historical settings? While series like “Babylon Berlin” and “Kleo” gain a lot by exploring complex and unique eras in the country’s history, “Dark” revolves entirely around fictional characters in a fictional setting.

To understand the dynamics behind this new trend, we need to take a closer look at the Netflix success story itself.

Founded in California in 1997 as a DVD rental company, Netflix began producing its own content about 11 years ago when transitioning to a streaming service.

Launching its first-ever original series “House of Cards” with the release of an entire season at once on February 1, 2013, it soon became clear that the company was banking on the flexibility offered to consumers over conventional television. .

In July, Netflix continued with its second in-house production, “Orange is the new black”. Both series would become global favorites and win endless awards, radically reshaping the entertainment industry.

Both productions are characterized by a new complexity, thanks to unpredictable characters and a horizontal narration in several episodes.

While precursors like “Breaking Bad” had used similar techniques before, Netflix’s own shows certainly heralded the start of a new era in television.

In Germany, the subscription streaming service was launched in 2014, increasing pressure on the German-speaking market to produce more high-quality shows.

Anticipating the competition it would soon have to face from across the Atlantic, the public broadcaster ARD teamed up with Sky to produce “Babylon Berlin”, and with success. The fourth season is currently available to stream on Sky and will be released in the broadcaster’s media library next year.

Searching for promising new storylines to create binge-worthy shows, cooperation between different TV providers and the expansion of online streaming platforms have become an integral part of broadcasters, hoping to once again attract more viewers. youth.

Internal broadcasts play a key role here, as they have been shown to improve a broadcaster’s image.

As elsewhere in the world, the advent of Netflix has radically changed the German television landscape and the revolution is underway.

Currently, all eyes are on Sissi and her tragic life. In the first week after its release, “The Empress” ranked among Netflix’s top ten in 79 countries. A week later it was 88.

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James R. Rhodes