Terrace House: Your Next Binge

A classic Terrace House scene: group dinner.

Interested in improving your Japanese and watching reality tv at the same time? Terrace House has you covered. Beginning in 2012, the Terrace House series quickly gained international attention for its ‘calm and relaxed atmosphere’–uncommon on most reality tv show franchises. It’s even been described as a “reality show for people who hate reality shows”

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Recommendation: Luis Miguel

Today’s blog post brings a music and television recommendation all in one. 

Luis Miguel: La Serie is a Netflix drama series that follows the life of legendary Mexican singer Luis Miguel throughout his early life and rise to superstardom. This show intimately explores Luis Miguel’s private life, focusing on the challenges he went through to balance his public image with his relationships with friends and family. With beautiful camerawork, fun 80s aesthetics, and a heavy dose of LuisMi’s most popular songs, this series keeps you hooked from beginning to end. It’s no surprise that it has become a favorite in the Spanish-speaking world.

Luis Miguel is currently available on Netflix. Keep an eye out for the third season, coming out today (October 28th)!

Or, if you’re just looking for something to listen to, here are some of my favorite Luis Miguel songs:

  1. Soy Como Quiero Ser
  2. Ahora te Puedes Marchar
  3. Cuando Calienta el Sol
  4. La Incondicional
  5. Tengo Todo Excepto a Tí

Elite! Your Next Netflix-Binge

Much of the cast during a scene. Courtesy of Netflix.

Looking for a new Spanish tv show filled with dramatic teenagers and a series of incredibly unlikely but intriguing events? Elite has you covered. 

Netflix released season 1 of Elite in 2018, and although being a Spanish show, it gained popularity around the world. Elite follows 3 scholarship students from a working-class part of town as they begin attending Las Encinas, a rich private high school, for Spain’s most elite. This parallels flashforwards to the main character’s mysterious murder. Throughout the series, viewers are watching the events that led up to the killing along with police interrogations following the murder. This leads a viewer to constantly ponder who was killed, who was the killer, and what was their motive. 

Elite has also been recognized for the diversity of its characters and storylines, taking on tough subjects especially for a dramatic teen tv show. There’s an inclusion of a gay storyline between two male characters, and their struggle to be accepted by one boy’s Muslim family. Additionally, one girl struggles with her religious identity when her school requires her not to wear a hijab to school. One main character even deals with the trials of being HIV-positive for the rest of their life. 

Elite tries to cover a large variety of themes, from those mentioned above, to class and race struggles. The show has been criticized for often glossing over these themes in order to focus on flashy drama. However, in comparison to other shows of the same genre, it still introduces many issues relevant to young people of this time. 

Elite does a good job of developing its characters as well. Many tropes are used at the beginning of the show, but it soon becomes clear that each character has a rich and interesting backstory explaining their actions as the show progresses.

Samuel during the murder scene that the show is focused on. Courtesy of Netflix.

For Spanish-language learners, Elite offers great practice. The show is meant for native Spanish speakers and uses Spain-centric Spanish. Characters give beautiful dialogues, some slow and some fast. For any level of Spanish learner, Elite offers a learning opportunity. Beginners may opt to listen in Spanish but use English subtitles, intermediates may rely on Spanish subtitles, and expert speakers can face a challenge by watching the show completely subtitle-free. 

Media Recommendation: German Music

Learning German and getting tired of Mozart, Rammstein and “99 Luftballoons”? Here are a few bands (covering a few different genres) that are a little newer.

AnnenMayKantereit – “Barfuß am Klavier” 

A slow ballad, “Barefoot at the Piano” features some beautiful lyrics. As YouTube commenter Ryan King once said, “I’d never thought of German as a particularly beautiful language… that is until now.”


Cro – “Traum”

If you’ve been to Germany, you’ve probably heard this one. Cro, a German rapper/artist is known for his secrecy (he always wears a panda mask). This one’s a bit faster, but it’s catchy, and the lyrics aren’t too complicated.


Namika ft. Black M  – “Je ne parle pas français.”

Most of this song is in German, with some French thrown in there when Black M raps. It’s slow, simple German, and repeats a lot. Find the lyrics here.


Olli Schulz – “Dann schlägt dein Herz” (Live) [Start at 2:33 for the song, or from the beginning to hear his introduction]

Olli Schulz, one of my personal favorites, is an indie-rocker with a great sense of humor. Here are the lyrics, and you can find the non-live version here.


Ready for a challenge? Then try:

Yung Hurn – “Ok cool” 

Basically the Austrian equivalent of Trap. You’ll probably need the lyrics for this one.

Media Recommendation: “Кухня” (“Kitchen”)

Кухня is a Russian sitcom that came out in 2012, and consists of 6 seasons and 120 episodes. It follows the story of the main character, Maxim Lavrov, and his quest to become a chef in one of Moscow’s best restaurants “Claude Monet.” Maxim, along with the rest of the restaurant’s workers, are constantly finding themselves in humorous situations.

The conversation is fairly slow and simple, so the show is good for intermediate and advanced speakers to practice their listening. It’s also good for beginners, as a lot of kitchen and food vocabulary comes up.

The show can be found for free on YouTube. You can also purchase a subtitled version on Amazon, but I’d encourage you to save the money and practice your Russian.

La Casa de las Flores, Netflix Series

This brand-new Netflix telenovela, already critically and popularly acclaimed, revolves around a powerful family in Mexico City, attempting to preserve its image after the father’s mistress hangs herself from the family’s house, uncovering the family’s dirty secrets. While inhabiting the best tradition of hyperbolic and postmodern Mexican telenovelas, this series offers an original dark comedy twist. The spoken Spanish is clear yet abundant in colloquialisms.

Film/TV – Media Resources 5

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of our media resources series! This post features some recommended films and television series as well as streaming websites for content in the languages supported at Reed.


Kanopy Streaming

Kanopy is an online streaming website (like Netflix or Hulu) featuring a large number of films in many languages. Subscription is required, but is free and supplied through Reed. Simply select your institution (i.e., Reed College) and create a free account using an email address. Films are available in a total of 28 languages, including French, German, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic. Most of the films on the website are classics: the Criterion Collection/Janus Films programme, for example, is offered. Films are spoken in the language of production, and many include subtitles in English or the original language.


Wadjda (2015)

The first feature-length by a female Saudi director, this debut follows the life of Wadjda an 11-year old Saudi girl. She is unlike other girls in her class; she wears Converse shoes under her clothes, she aspires to ride a bike, something uncommon amongst girls, and has the wit to understand the very mature things happening around her. Wadjda strives to win a Quran recital competition to win enough money to buy a bike, so she can race her male friend. Along this journey of trying to win the competition she faces issues with her family and struggles with her identity.

Theeb/Wolf (2015)

This coming of age story concerns Theeb, the youngest of three sons who resides in a Bedouin community; a community of arab nomads with his two brothers. The movie takes place in 1916 during the Arab Revolt, a time when Arab nationalist sought independence from Ottoman Turks. One day in Theeb’s community a British army officer comes searching for a well to drink from. From there, when he tries to aid this officer, he is met with a series of unfortunate events that will ultimately lead him to travel through a desert with Hassan, the mercenary that has killed his brother. Theeb traverses the desert with great composure and dignity, knowing that Hassan needs him and he needs Hassan. When the journey ends can these two men trust each other or will there be hostility between them?


花樣年華/In the Mood for Love (2001)

Set in 1962 Hong Kong, the film follows the lives of two couples in a small crevice of the city. The spectator is only ever are allowed to see the wife in one relationship, Li-zhen and the husband from the other relationship, Chow interact with each other. It becomes apparent to the audience as small pieces of evidence begin to build up that their spouses are having a relationship with each other. The two protagonists of the film are transfixed in a passionate sensorium trying to combat a multi-faceted loneliness aided by the cheating spouses, the bustling city, and the ambiguous stance of the protagonists’ relationship.

Stray Dogs (2014)

A Taiwanese family, composed of a father and his children are struggling to make ends meet in Taipei. The father makes a living by holding up a sign for a real estate company, while his children wander through a supermarket or the outskirts of the city. The movie is not conventionally filmed and edited, but is rather strung together with long shots that show the complexity of daily mundane occurrences. Though the family lacks a mother-figure, this figure presents itself in many forms, creating a sense of wholeness in the film. In what seems to be a post-apocalyptic setting of sorts, with the bleak weather conditions, and their human conditions, there are hidden silver linings.



On the 6play website, you can gain free access to French television programs, including some French dubs of English shows like NCIS and Hawaii 5-0. You do have to create an account using your email or Facebook account. The website may play an ad with audio immediately when you access it.

Jules et Jim/Jules and Jim (1962)

Jules, an Austrian and Jim,a Frenchman are best friends who seek knowledge and beauty together through poetry, language, and women. One day they see a sculpture of a woman that embodies their ideals of beauty and travel to the Adriatic to find it and see it. They are completely taken aback when they meet this ideal of beauty in the flesh when they meet Catherine. The both fall in love with her; their friendship suspended in a love triangle. Questions of how and if their friendship can be preserved arise as Catherine is incapable of making up her mind in deciding who she loves more. The film is pulsating with life, keen insights into the things we consider sacred in relationships, and though in black and white embodies the spirit of French New Wave Cinema.

The African Doctor (2016)

A doctor from the Congo finds a job in rural France and brings his family to stay in a tiny town there. The movie deals with themes of racism, prejudice, and homesickness as it shows the ups and downs of moving into a foreign country. But it remains lighthearted with many funny moments, such as the doctor building his business by frequenting the local bar and getting drunk. All the characters are well-acted; humorous, sad, and ultimately triumphant–this is a family you’ll want to spend more time with. Based on a true story.


Leben der anderen/The Lives of Others (2006)

In this German melodrama, a member of the Stasi, Gerd Weisler who has dedicated his life to following and spying on those who might pose a threat to the government of East Germany suddenly becomes enveloped with the life of a playwright and his lover. He begins to care about these complete strangers, and tries to undermine the request of his government minister in order to protect these two innocent lives. A touch of humanism is revealed through the protagonist’s dedication to his own moral code, which he realizes overlaps with the lives of others. A sleek, riveting piece of cinema, one will be on the edge of their seat until the end.


Tatort, a mystery/crime show, is one of Germany’s most popular TV-series, consisting of over one thousand episodes since its release in 1970. Episodes are individually produced by regional TV stations, featuring a variety of locations in the German-speaking world including Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Vienna, and even Switzerland. Although each location has its own characters and plots, nearly 30 full-length (90min) episodes are released each year, contributing to highly-developed stories and character relations. The level of German is fairly advanced, but the context and plot are easy to follow, and the variety of settings provides a good insight into regional dialects and accents.


Последний из Магикян (Last of the Magikyan)

All episodes available on Youtube. This sitcom follows a mixed Russian-Armenian family living in present day Moscow — comparable to Modern Family in its scope and silliness. An excellent resource for beginning students who want to start watching TV/films in Russian, as the dialogue is fairly easy to follow (children are often speaking) and context makes the simple plots easy to understand. The first episode is especially useful, as it deals with lots of beginning vocabulary — birthdays, smiles, nationalities, etc. A genuinely funny and heartfelt show about identity, family, and modern life.

Ivanovo Detstvo (Ivan’s Childhood) (1962)

Ivan’s Childhood opens with a dream—the film’s protagonist, 12-year-old Ivan Bondarev, runs around barefoot, chasing butterflies with his mother—before grounding itself into the harsh reality of World War II, where Ivan fights for the Soviet army as a frontline scout. The film continues in this non-linear fashion, where memories of serene family life are contrasted with the trauma of wartime life—although he is only a child, Ivan has experienced tremendous loss. Tarkovsky’s first feature film, Ivan’s Childhood joined a new genre of war films under the de-Stalinization of the late ‘50s and ‘60s, such as The Cranes Are Flying and Father of the Soldier—at a time when World War II was still a major influence on Soviet identity, these films moved away from the typical heroic and glorified post-war narratives and instead centered around the anguish and sorrow of Soviet citizens.


Relatos Salvajes/Wild Tales (2015)

In this Argentine drama, the line between civilization and barbarism is constantly breached through a series of vignettes. Scenes of violence, dark humor, and witty dialogue make this a palpable and enjoyable film. If you don’t mind something macabre, and are perhaps an aficionado of Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, this is the movie for you.

El espíritu de la colmena (1973)

In naming this movie, the director was inspired by the “all-powerful, enigmatic and paradoxical being which bees obey and man’s reason has never been able to understand.” This movie centers on a little girl who becomes obsessed with Frankenstein and comes to believe he lives hidden at the edge of her sleepy Spanish town. Praised as one of the best Spanish movies of all time, “The Spirit of the Beehive” is slow paced and features many long yet stunning takes. The fact that the cinematographer was going blind during filming is a perfect way to explain the character of this movie, surreal, enigmatic, and paradoxical.


Pragda is a film distribution company for Ibero-American films. Its film catalogue is updated and modern and includes a lot of information about each film. It’s a good place to start to find new Spanish-language movies!

Kanopy: free access to award-winning films

I’m a senior at Reed, and I have one recommendation for you during your time here — visit Kanopystreaming.com. This is really one of the hidden secrets of Reed that will change your life when you find out about it. I didn’t discover Kanopy until this year and I am sad to have missed so many opportunities to watch films in foreign languages for free. Kanopy offers films in 28 languages and almost all films have English subtitles available. This is one of the best features and sets Kanopy apart from most other streaming sites.

To use Kanopy on or off campus, just add Reed College as your institution. Next, you can customize Kanopy by creating an account, which allows you to access features like creating playlists. Or you can just watch the films without logging in.

We are privileged that all members of the Reed community have free access through the institutional subscription. Kanopy is only available through libraries and academic universities. Check it out today and you’ll see a hugely diverse collection of award-winning films! The first Arabic movie I watched on Kanopy turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Take a look, or log onto the site to find your next favorite movie!

Tickling Giants: Uniting Egypt Through Laughter in Tumultuous Times

This documentary follows the rise and fall of Egyptian talk show host Bassam Youssef, the Jon Stewart of Egypt. But where Jon Stewart has 2 million views per episode, Youssef typically has 30 million. The film depicts the consequences of political comedy in a country where retribution is swift and harsh for any journalist who criticizes the government. When free speech is not a guarantee, people need space to laugh and relieve their fears. Youssef becomes a necessary and beloved outlet for an entire country of people under repressive rule. He faces threats, protests and lawsuits in his quest to keep comedy alive in Egypt. This movie is funny, emotional and informational about recent Egyptian politics since the 2011 revolution.