So, you’re an Italian media hound.
You’ve also got your trusty Italian translator app by your side to look up all those Italian words and phrases you might not know.
If you’ve signed up for FluentU Italian, you have a great app that lets you watch real-world Italian video with on-screen translation and helpful comprehension and memory exercises.
But hold it right there, Italian learners.
Get on your at-home clothes, sit back, and prepare yourself to binge watch some of the best Italian TV.
How to Binge Watch Italian TV Productively
While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to learn a language is to do what most of us do with television shows: binge watch episodes until we can’t binge watch anymore!
So, why am I specifically suggesting you binge Italian TV shows, exactly? Television is a great way to hear Italian the way it’s naturally spoken, learn useful slang and informal language, and to hear similar vocabulary again and again related to the content of your chosen show.
That’s why binge watching is uniquely useful to language learning because you’ll hear vocabulary related to the content of the show over and over again, a repetitive method that’s great for helping new words and grammatical constructions stick.
Take that, nay-sayers!
In addition to benefits of binge watching Italian TV, I also have a few other tips. Make sure to keep a list of new words and grammatical constructions that you come across in the show you’re watching. This will help you understand Italian better and be a quick reference for the future.
Further, you’ll find that as time goes on, you’ll be better able to understand spoken Italian because your ears will get used to the pace of the language from all your TV watching.
Binge Watch Your Way to Italian Mastery with 6 Exciting TV Shows
We mentioned FluentU’s program in the introduction, but if you haven’t signed up yet and you enjoy learning with videos, it might be the program that’s been missing from your Italian-learning life!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons, as you can see here:
FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday Italian by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles.
Tap on any word to instantly see an image, in-context definition, example sentences and other videos in which the word is used.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.
Once you’ve watched a video, you can use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
FluentU will even keep track of all the Italian words you’ve learned to recommend videos and ask you questions based on what you already know.
Plus, it’ll tell you exactly when it’s time for review. Now that’s a 100% personalized experience!
The best part? You can try FluentU for free with a 15-day trial.
Get ready to binge watch! Here are the top six Italian TV shows that will make you a master Italian learner in no time.
“Suburra” is a show that’s based on an Italian neo-noir film, which in turn is based on a novel by Carlo Bonini and Giancarlo De Cataldo. It centers on organized crime and Italian politics, and it follows an Italian MP (Member of Parliament) who gets tied up in mafia happenings, drugs, gambling, politics, violence and the Vatican.
It’s going to be an intense and wild ride, and needless to say, it’s going to be super addictive.
Furthermore, the TV show itself is being filmed in Rome, mainly along the waterfront, and the cinematography is guaranteed to be awesome. The scenes go from the beautiful streets of Italian cities to breathtaking mountain and ocean views, so when you’re not immersed in the plot, you’ll be wowed by the scenery. It will be a great way to hear some useful (and sometimes risque) Italian language related to politics, crime and *gasp* even murder.
If you’re ready to start watching “Suburra,” well, too bad. You’re going to have to wait like the rest of us. It’s being filmed as a Netflix original series and won’t be available until sometime in 2017—but that’s coming up pretty soon!
If you’re a fan of medical dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Saving Hope,” the Italian television show called “L’allieva“ (The Pupil) is for you.
The show follows Alice Allevi, a medical student who has no idea what the future holds for her or even if she wants to continue on as a medical student. After the death of her nonna’s caregiver, however, Alice decides she wants to go into legal medicine—an interesting and, of course, dramatic field.
Long story short, Alice falls for a doctor at the institute where she’s studying, but she also falls for Arthur, a fellow student. As you can probably guess, more drama ensues.
While this show can at times be lighthearted, it can also be a tear-jerker (like most medical dramas are). In terms of learning Italian, it gives great glimpses into vocabulary that’s used not only in domestic life but also in the medical and legal fields. Get your tissues ready!
Employment and love intertwine again in “Catturandi,” the story of a woman, Palma Toscano, who works as a special agent for a police division hunting for an infamous mafia member, Natale Sciacca.
Along the way, Palma must face her past, and most notably, the death of her father at the hands of the mafia. She must also face her own heart as she falls for the same people who she’s meant to arrest: members of the mafia. Love ensues, but so does drama in this intense TV show.
“Catturandi” is not only an intense and gripping show, but it’s a great option for learning political vocabulary and police lingo in Italian.
Furthermore, the actors use various levels of formality when they’re speaking depending on whether they’re talking to lawyers, judges or the mafia members, and this is a great way for learners to hear the differences in formal and informal language in Italian.
Through a multimedia platform, the TV show “Donne” (which means “women” in Italian) is actually a pretty innovative TV project that has 10 episodes (rather, 10 short films).
Each episode follows one strong woman, the choices she had to make and the life she led. These strong women range from lovers to fighters, and while I’m pretty sure these episodes are fiction, some of them seem like they could be true.
This show is perfect for those who have TV show commitment issues (regrettably, like me), as you can watch one episode and then take time before watching the next. This is ideal for those who want to binge watch in a more restrained manner, or who may not have the time to make a proper binge out of their regular TV watching.
Furthermore, this show is great for learners to see female perspectives within Italian culture as well as throughout Italian history.
A bit like Italy’s answer to “Modern Family,” “Come Fai Sbagli” (How to Do Wrong) follows two families as they cope with modern life. The series is a perfect mixture of humor and drama, and it sums up what it’s like to raise children in today’s day and age, happiness and sadness combined.
If you’re a fan of lighthearted sitcoms with the perfect sprinkling of heart, then this show is definitely a good pick for you. This show is also a great way to see Italian spoken from many demographics: from the parents, the children and even the moody teenagers who, of course, want to distance themselves from their parents as much as possible.
It’s an excellent resource for informal Italian, idioms and even Italian pop culture knowledge.
Sort of in the vein of “Two and a Half Men,” “Zio Gianni” (Uncle John) follows a man who’s in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Considering he has no job, no wife, winding up without a home is only made worse when he has to move in with three 20-somethings in order to afford a living space.
As predicted, hilarity ensues ranging from great situational humor to just awkward situations between a 50-year-old man and 20-year-olds. This show is great to learn the “trendy” language spoken by millennials in Italy, and it’s also a great way to learn about the realities of life in Italy right now.
Even though the show is hilarious, it touches on real issues like love, unemployment, financial instability and uncertainty.
Now that you have your options, get out there and binge!
Just make sure you have all your other tasks out of the way first…
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Italian with real-world videos.