1. Narcos

For many years, the world of Colombian drug lords, especially the notorious kingpin Pablo Escobar, has been dangerously fascinating and little known about. Thanks to this intriguing and successful series (with three seasons of 10 episodes each), you get a chance to take a peek into how he’s managed to become one of the wealthiest people on the planet, as well as to find out the truth behind Colombian drug cartels and the production and distribution of cocaine. 

How can the “Narcos” series prove helpful from the language point of view? It has dialogues both in English and Colombian Spanish, which is an excellent chance to test your listening comprehension skills and pick up some local idioms and slang. If you are a lower-level student, use the Spanish captions and feel free to pause and rewind as often as you need. 


  • a gripping and fast-moving storyline
  • amazing cast  
  • episodes last under one hour each - good length for one sitting


  • lots of violence and swearing - not suitable for younger viewers

Visit Narcos

2. El Chapo

Did you like Escobar’s life story? Did you enjoy the thrill, the suspense, and the crude reality of drug trafficking? Then you are going to love the series “El Chapo” inspired by the life of one of the most notorious criminals Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán - the unquestionable lord of Mexican drug cartels. From his beginnings in 1985 as a low-level member of the Guadalajara Cartel to his rise to power and his ultimate downfall - El Chapo’s life wrote a stunning screenplay for a story of greed, ruthless violence, and crime.  

The series was first launched in 2017 and - just like “Narcos” was met with immense viewers’ interest right from the start. Three seasons and 35 episodes later, it is one of the most popular on Netflix. A great cast of talented Mexican and Colombian actors (Marcos de la O, Humberto Busto, Alejandro Aguilar), beautiful landscapes, and the review of Mexico’s political, social, and economic complexities makes “El Chapo” fascinating to watch.

Unlike “Narcos,” this series is entirely in Spanish, which makes it a perfect language practice material. Everyday expressions and a clear Mexican accent will most certainly come in handy when visiting that fantastic country. 


  • very well made, with great actors and great shots of Mexican geography
  • educative in showing real crimes
  • unveils the life of one of the world supervillains


  • can prove too violent for some viewers

Visit El Chapo

3. Toy Boy

Hugo - a handsome male stripper from Costa del Sol - spent seven long years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit. With the help of a young lawyer Triana, he unexpectedly gets released on probation and sets to prove his innocence. Despite a rather cold initial reception when it was first broadcast on the Spanish channel Antenna 3 in 2019, moving to Netflix has turned the “Toy Boy” series into an almost instant international success. 

What not to like about it? Handsome men, gorgeous women, lots of sexual tension, mystery, and crime - what a perfect recipe for success. Plus, the breathtaking shootings of Costa del Sol and Marbella are a real feast for the eyes. 

Are you a fan of Spanish cinema? Then you’re bound to love the actors, among whom there is Jesús Mosquera (as the main character), Cristina Castaño (as his former lover), and María Pedraza (as the young lawyer who rescues Hugo from prison). If you are watching the series to sharpen your Spanish listening comprehension skills, my advice is to take it one scene at a time, with the subtitles on. Watch it as many times as necessary until you can follow the original dialogues.


  • very pleasant to the eye
  • great opportunity to practice the Spain version of the language with its idioms and slang


  • the plot gets weaker and less realistic in the last few episodes
  • each episode lasts over one hour, which is quite a lot to stay focused on Spanish
Visit Toy Boy

4. Money Heist

The series, whose original title is “Casa de Papel,” has been an enormous success worldwide, turning the young cast of Spanish actors into international stars. If you haven’t watched it yet, here is a short summary of the plot: a group of local criminals - specialists in different areas - get together under the leadership of the “Professor” to pull off the greatest robbery in the history of Spain. They get to the Royal Mint (Coinage and Stamp Factory) in Madrid, take dozens of hostages, and covering their faces with Dali masks, start printing millions of euros. Will they be able to escape and take all the money with them before the police catch them? Watch and see; I don’t want to spoil your fun. 

With four seasons and counting, Money Heist has turned into one of the most-watched series on Netflix. It owes its success not only to the great acting skills of Alvaro Monte, Ursula Cobreró, Alba Flores, and Miguel Herrán but above all to the sheer genius of Alex Piña and his script - full of suspense and twists of action. 

What does “Money Heist” offer to students of Spanish? Although watching it in the original version might prove too challenging for lower levels, it is a wonderful language practice opportunity for higher intermediate and advanced students. Get ready for some juicy street “madrileño” Spanish!


  • gets you hooked right from the start
  • surprises and twists of action in every season
  • a good mix of action and romance
  • Spain Spanish at its best


  • cover your ears if you don’t like foul language
Visit Money Heist

5. Elite

“Money Heist” has really stirred the Netflix audience and left them hungry for even more Spanish series. To take advantage of that opportunity, “Elite” was launched, starring a part of the same - now famous and well recognized - actors. 

This series, however, is very different from “Money Heist”. It is a high school drama that tells the story of two working-class students who get awarded scholarships to enter an exclusive Spanish high school. Drugs, sex, intrigues, and broken hearts - is what happens inside this privileged establishment. Teenage psychology fears, and ambitions as well as social problems of a classist society are very well captured and add depth to the story. 

Produced by Francisco Ramos, the series premiered in October 2018 and has already been given three seasons (eight episodes each).  


  • a realistic story with compelling characters
  • particularly apt for a younger audience who can identify with the characters
  • Spanish subtitles available
  • teenage slang that younger students will want to learn
  • each episode lasts around 45 minutes


  • some consider it “oversexed” for a younger audience
Visit Elite

6. Queen of the South

“Queen of the South” / “La Reina del Sur”, directed by Mauricio Cruz and Walter Doehner is a Spanish-language TV soap opera that will take you back to the world of drugs and crime. The story is an adaptation of a novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte with the same title. Its main character, Teresa Mendoza falls in love with a member of a Mexican cartel. When he falls in disgrace and gets executed Teresa escapes to the US to save her own life. Little by little “La Mexicana” gets involved in drug trafficking herself and slowly builds her own empire

First aired in the US on 28 February 2011, the series has so far over 120 episodes, around 40 minutes each. It has won several awards (People in Spanish 2011 for Best Telenovela and Best Actress and 2020 International Emmy Awards for Best Non-English Language U.S. Primetime Program).

Are you looking for a show that has action, crime, passion, friendship, betrayal, and death? “The Queen of South” delivers all that and more. Get ready for serious binge-watching and make sure to have a pack of tissue close. 


  • weeks and weeks of watching
  • an addictive story full of surprises and twists
  • strong woman figure
  • 100% in Spanish
  • beautiful filming location


  • some cultural inconsistencies (especially for the part filmed in Morocco)
Visit Queen of the South

7. Toro

This 2016 movie, made by renowned Spanish director Kike Maillo, “Toro” (Spanish for “Bull”) tells the story of two brothers involved in a Torremolinos gang in Malaga (southern Spain). When the protagonist - a.k.a. Toro - makes a move to leave the gang life, one of his brothers is found dead and he is accused of his murder and sentenced to jail. As he later finds out he was framed by another brother of his, López, who after a few years is in desperate need of Toro’s help.  

Will they be able to save Diana - Lopez’s daughter - from the hands of her kidnappers? Make sure not to miss this great Spanish production with a fantastic cast of actors (especially Jose Sacristan as the gang leader Romano). Get ready for lots of drama and action, spectacular car pursuits, and impressive stunts. 

Although a little predictable, the 105-minutes movie is fast-paced and has an easy-to-follow storyline. Plus, it provides lots of language practice for the students of Spanish who enjoy dark action films. A beautiful soundtrack composed by Joe Crepusculo is a definite cherry on top.  


  • entertaining action movie
  • keeps you engaged all the time
  • not too long


  • rated R due to violent scenes
Visit Toro

8. Live Twice, Love Once

When Emilio - a widowed teacher from Valencia - gets diagnosed with the first stage of Alzheimer's disease, he sets on finding Margarita - the woman he was in love with years ago. As he has no computer and no clue about internet search, he manages to convince Julia, his estranged daughter, to help him. As a result, Emilio, Julia, her husband, and her son travel to Navarra (where Margarita used to work as a Spanish teacher) to look for her. 

Will they succeed? Better find out by yourself. Let me just tell you that the travel and all the time Emilio and Julia spend together allow them to reconnect as a family and opens their eyes to the truly important things in life. Funny occurrences as Julio’s memory declines progressively will make you laugh through tears. 

Vivir dos veces” is the Spanish title of this internationally acclaimed movie. A superb performance of Oscar Martinez as Emilio and Inma Cuesta as Julia, along with the emotional original soundtrack make it a Netflix must-see. 


  • very emotional with a gripping plot
  • raises awareness of Alzheimer’s and its social impact
  • beautiful piano music
  • a balanced dose of drama and comedy
  • clear and well-pronounced Spain Spanish


  • the incurable nature of the disease and Emilio’s gradual decline \re sad to watch
Visit Live Twice, Love Once

9. Mirage

“Mirage” (the Spanish title “Durante la Tormenta”) is a Spanish crime drama with a pinch of sci-fi, starring one of Spain’s most famous actresses - Adriana Ugarte, acting as Vera Roy, the protagonist. 

An electric storm takes Vera from her 2014 married-with-child reality back to 1989 when a boy, Nico, dies in a car accident. She warns him about an approaching car and saves his life, not realizing that her interference with the past will change everything that happened next, including her own future. When she wakes up the next morning she finds out that her husband is married to someone else, and her daughter Gloria was never born. Will she be able to revert what she’s done? Most importantly, will you be able to follow the movie in its original version?

If you are a B2 student, you should be able to grasp most of the ideas without major problems. “Mirage” revolves mainly around daily family conversations, with some broadcasting and medical expressions, which can be a great addition to your Spanish vocabulary. 


  • entertaining time-travel story
  • keeps you hooked until the end
  • directed by the acclaimed Oriol Paulo
  • can be enjoyed by a wide group of viewers, independently of their age
  • not too demanding language-wise


  • lasts over 2 hours, so make sure to get enough time
Visit Mirage

10. 7 ańos

Imagine breaking the law with a group of friends and then having to pick one from among you, to go to jail for what you all did. How hard would such a choice be?!  “7 Años” (in English “7 Years) is a 2016 Spanish drama directed by Roger Gual (2003 Goya Award winner for “Smoking Room”) that deals with exactly this kind of dilemma. 

Four friends (three men and a woman) - founders of a tech company - have been caught diverting funds to a tax paradise. Now, they hire a mediator to help them decide who of them should take the responsibility, save the company from bankruptcy, and….go to jail for 7 years. 

Those of you who’ve watched “12 Angry Man” will recognize the same one-scenario concept (which in this case is the company’s office), where the people involved debate for hours about the right verdict. Will they find it? Is there ever a “right” decision in a situation like that?

Are you tempted to watch “7 Años” in the original version? Keep in mind that the dialogues are quite complex and the characters tend to speak rather fast. Use subtitles whenever you feel like you need them. 


  • gripping plot 
  • fascinating psychological evolution of the characters as the mediation advances
  • superb acting and great character development
  • the “one-room” scenario makes it easy to focus
  • lasts only 1 hour 17


  • the ending is a bit disappointing (just kidding)
Visit 7 ańos

11. The last hour

If you are familiar with the history of Peru, you must have heard of “the Shining Path” - a revolutionist communist party/terrorist organization, known for its brutal participation in the internal armed conflict that broke out in Peru in 1980 with the idea of overthrowing the government. 

The last hour” (original title “La última hora) is a 2017 Peruvian thriller set in the reality of the violent Lima of the 90s.  It tells the story of two detectives - members of the Special Intelligence Unit - who are on a mission to capture Abimael Guzman, the Shining Path leader. To be able to watch Guzman’s house and movements without arousing suspicions, they pretend to be a gay couple. But, are they really pretending?

There aren’t that many Peruvian movies that have made it to international streaming services. For a student of Spanish, “The last hour” can be one of the rare opportunities to hear how Limeños speak the language and get to know some local expressions. Mind you, the Peruvian pronunciation is considered one of the best in Latin America!


  • interesting historical background
  • engaging storyline
  • great listening comprehension material for Peruvian Spanish


  • the love story between the two detectives is a little confusing
  • brutal torture scenes - viewer discretion advised
Visit The last hour

12. Holy Camp!

Tired of drugs, violence, and drama? Looking for some lighter entertainment? Then you are going to love “Holy Camp!” - a Spanish musical comedy from 2017 directed by the famous duo Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo. 

Picture this: a catholic summer camp for girls, run by a pair of God-fearing nuns, one of whom is very conservative, while the other feels like it is time to modernize and adapt to the interests of the twenty-first-century youth. Add two rebel teenagers (María and Susana) who only care about Reggaeton and electric Latin music. A recipe for a disaster, isn’t it? It sure is, until…. María receives a calling from God himself. 

Full of great music, funny clashes between teenage rebellion and ecclesiastic rules, believable and likable characters. Even Pedro Almodovar has praised “La llamada”. 

Language-wise, a foreign comedy is always a challenge. The particularities of the Spanish sense of humor might confuse you a little, especially if you have no background knowledge of that country and its people. 


  • Spanish comedy at its finest
  • perfect for a younger audience
  • provides an inside view of the older and the younger generation as well their values


  • quite lengthy (almost 2 hours)
Visit Holy Camp!

13. Smoke and Mirrors

A.k.a “El hombre de las mil caras” is a 2016 high-budget Spanish thriller filmed in such spectacular locations as Paris, Madrid, Geneva, and Singapour. Similar to “The last hour,” it has a historical background (the activity of the ETA - the Basque terrorist group) and is based on real events. Its main character - Francisco Paesa, interpreted by  Eduard Fernández (one of the most prominent Spanish actors) - impersonates a former Spanish secret agent, who gets framed by its own government and has no choice but to flee abroad. The years he spends in exile leave him penniless and alone. Will he accept to help the ex-police commissioner to move twelve million embezzled dollars out of the country? Or is he going to use this opportunity for personal revenge?

Smoke and Mirrors” is an example of top-of-the-line and well-acclaimed Spanish cinema. An intriguing and dynamic plot, great acting, and just the right pace make it a fair competitor of “Ocean’s Eleven” or “Catch me if you can”. 


  • a fascinating narrative of real-life corruption and deceit
  • keeps you on the edge of the seat the whole time
  • makes you think about the moral dimension of “doing what everybody else does”
  • the narrator’s voice is quite easy to understand in Spanish


  • the plot can turn out to be too complex to follow entirely in Spanish. Pause and rewind whenever necessary.
Visit Smoke and Mirrors

14. 100 Meters

Multiple sclerosis is a disabling and incurable disease of the brain and spinal cord, that makes you gradually lose control over your body and leaves you tied to a wheelchair. When Ramón Arroyo receives the MS diagnosis and hears the doctor tell him he won’t be able to walk 100 meters within a year, he doesn’t despair though. Instead - with the help of his grumpy father-in-law -  he starts training for the Ironman. 

100 Meters” is a true story movie by the Spanish director Marcel Barrena. Since its release in 2016 it has been showered with prestigious awards: Goya, Forqué, Gaudí, Spanish Cinema in Toulouse, you name it. Thanks to Netflix it has reached millions of viewers and placed among the platform Top 10 in many countries. 


  • a bitter-sweet lesson of perseverance and will power
  • engaging and motivational, with a hint of comedy
  • one of the best performances of the “Spanish Tom Hanks”, Dani Rovira
  • very suitable to practice sports vocabulary and medical terms in Spanish


  • a sad realization of the inevitable progress of the disease
Visit 100 Meters

15. Boss

El Jefe”, as that is the original title of the movie, is a Spanish “Beauty and the Beast” style comedy that showcases a corrupted and prepotent businessman (César) turn into a kinder version of himself with the help of….no, not Bella, but equally gorgeous Juana Acosta in her role as a night-shift janitor. 

Luis Callejo, whom you might recognize from “For the good of others”, “Es por tu bien” or “El aviso” delivers a fabulous personification of the horrendous and self-centered Cesar who - stuck in his office until he solves all of his problems - little by little falls for the sexy Ariana and learns from her womanly wisdom. 

Funny, fast-paced, and reeeaaaaally satisfying to watch. A great lesson on the best swear words “made in Spain”. 


  • an entertaining story
  • a brilliant juggle between comedy, romance, and pretended drama
  • a well-performed evolution of the protagonist as he begins to realize his mistakes
  • colorful Spanish idioms and a good selection of business terms


  • just like “Beauty and the Beast” it is but a modern fairytale.
Visit Boss