Here are some of the best Russian shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube in the US as of November 8, 2021.
Watching popular Russian TV shows helps you improve vocabulary and listening while learning about the culture.
To amp up your Russian learning, try Google Chrome browser’s free Language Learning with Netflix (LLN) extension.
If you’re an advanced learner, try using Russian subtitles if available as studies show it enhances language learning.
1. “Григорий Р” (“Grigori R”)
Mythical mystic Григорий Ефимович Распутин (Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin) was legendary for his seeming inability to be killed.
With no option to turn off the English subtitles in the Amazon Prime Video broadcast, every learner from beginner to advanced level can enjoy this program.
When watching this series, you’ll get a crash course in Russian life before the revolution. There’s also a lot of vocabulary related to religious life and politics.The deed was eventually accomplished, however. This series explores the circumstances behind the death of this larger-than-life figure.
Since the captions can’t be turned off when streaming this series on Amazon, it’s accessible to all levels of learners.
Oleg, Benedict and Vladimir are three strangers from very different walks of life. Suddenly, they find themselves unwittingly linked together by an unexpected event.
In this sci-fi thriller, sometimes called “Kontakt,” a government experiment gone awry catches the three main characters in the blast radius of an explosion. This event confers strange psychic powers upon them.
Much of the dialogue has straightforward, everyday vocabulary. There are also some medical and military terms used.
Oleg uses his new powers to see life through someone else’s eyes. Benedict uses his powers to exact vengeance upon his enemies—through someone else’s actions. Vladimir, who once used others for his own gain, now finds himself a pawn.
With the frequent use of chemical names, this witty and gritty series might be better appreciated by upper-intermediate and advanced learners.
The man they call “the Sniffer” has a unique talent: Not only is his sense of smell preternaturally acute, but he also has the ability to accurately identify the specific chemicals he smells—and use them to unlock mysteries.
4. “Эпидемия” (“Epidemic”)
When Moscow finds itself completely disrupted by a widespread plague, a contentious band of uninfected people escapes to relative safety on the outskirts of civilization.
You’ll see characters in desperate and dire situations. As such, you’ll learn vocabulary for expressing fear and anger, remorse and regret.
But they soon find themselves beset by external violence, internal conflict and the threat of infection.
There’s a lot of action and fast dialogue in this series, so it might be a better choice for upper-intermediate and advanced learners.
Like a 19th-century version of “Medium” or “The Ghost Whisperer,” young Anna from Zatonsk has the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead through her dreams.
6. “Вскрытие покажет”
Despite her crusty exterior, her dedication and often brilliant insights make her a valuable part of criminal investigative teams.
Inga Vilka is a medical examiner whose brusque manner makes her more suited to working with the dead than the living.
Cop drama meets cyberpunk in this one-season series.
Although he originally dismisses her death as a suicide, Kryukov’s undercover inquiry at the school places him in the students’ lives as a teacher—and plunges him into a dangerous virtual reality game called “Sпарта” (Sparta).
Inspector Kryukov, a seasoned police captain, is called in to investigate the suspicious death of a teacher at a local high school.
8. “Лучше, чем люди”
“Лучше, чем люди” (literally, “better than humans”) is a sci-fi thriller set in the near future.
However, not everyone is thrilled about this technological development: The Liquidators are fighting to eliminate these embodiments of artificial life.
In this world, androids—robots made to look like humans—have become an everyday reality, integrating into the home lives of many.
“Мажор” (literally, “Major”) is a crime drama that marked the premiere of Russian programming on Netflix.
It tells the story of Igor Sokolovsky, a young man whose life of privilege changes radically when his father forces him to work for a living at a police station.
10. “Один в один!”
This Russian talent show has been airing since 2013, where judges rate celebrities on their impersonations of famous singers.
When the rule of law fails to render justice, police investigator Major Rodion Meglin goes outside of it.Esenya Steklova, whose own family life had been disrupted by foul play, becomes Meglin’s protégé.
His method for settling scores with the criminally insane is known only to him—until he takes on a trainee.
As the series unfolds, unexpected connections between the characters are revealed.
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