Entertainment

18 Best Russian TV Shows

Russian series
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Why not broaden your horizons by watching some of the best series Russia has to offer.

I get it, 2020 was tough and you are tired of watching movies so you need a list to help you choose what to watch in 2021? What a coincidence that you’ve wound up on this particular article.  

Maybe you want to find out what Russian TV shows are available on Netflix? Or Amazon Video Prime (if you are a prime member)? Or maybe you are interested in some language learning (Russian is the language in question)? 

What better way to do that, than to start watching Russian shows.

Here is a list of the best Russian TV shows that you should watch in 2021!

Benefits of Watching Russian Series

The best way to improve your Russian language skills (and vocabulary) is by watching Russian shows (the Lord saideth on the third day). 

Or maybe you are simply bored with English shows and are interested in watching Russian ones. 

This list will definitely help you learn more about the best shows made in Russia, and, in the process of watching them you will be learning a new language in 2020 (that should count as a plus, right?). 

Most of the shows on this list, you will be able to find on Netflix or Amazon Video Prime.

List of Best Russian TV Series to Watch in 2021

1. Border. Romance in the Taiga (2000)

Directed by Aleksandr Mitta and Igor Andreichuk, Border is a TV drama that mixes two things where everything is possible – love and war (at least in the movies). 

The plot follows three Soviet families from the 70s, whose members are closely involved with the military (they are soldiers). This is all happening in the Eastern part of Russia, just across the border with China.

In the midst of the war, a young nurse (Marina) and her husband (Nikita) are trying to keep their marriage (good marriage during peacetime is already a miracle).

Unfortunately for Nikita, but luckily for us, Marina meets a young lieutenant Ivan and the classic plot is set in motion. Nikita gets a “little bit” vexed, and, well, you can imagine the rest (or you could just watch to show, it’s up to you).

Border was one of the most popular TV shows in Russia, and that’s why it is the first on this list (I am also a huge fan of Olga Budina, to be honest).

IMDB score: 7.1/10

2. Brigade (2002)

This masterpiece belongs on every list of Russian TV shows (like seriously!). 

During its airing, this show was among the most watched TV series in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Written by Igor Porublyov and Aleksei Sidorov, this Russian crime series tells the story of four friends that became the most feared group of criminals in Moscow.

There is only one season, but every episode is like a movie in itself, with a lot of drama and action. 

If you are a fan of crime movies and series (like The Godfather or The Sopranos) search no more because you are going to enjoy watching this series. 

IMDB score: 8.4/10

3. Taiga. Survival Course (2002)

The best Russian TV series are always set in the Siberian taiga (and that’s a fact!). 

In order to learn valuable life lessons, humans need to be reduced to animals, and find, in themselves, that survival instinct that you often see in times of war (sounds familiar? 2020? no?).

The story is simple: a group of very diverse people get into a plane crash and end up in a new environment. Desperate and with no time to spare, they need to figure out how to stay alive.

Each day, a love couple, a dying woman and other strange characters are learning something new about others and themselves.

IMDB score: 7.9/10

4. Liquidation (2007)

Directed by Sergei Ursuliak, Likvidatsiya is one of the best TV shows that was shown on Russian television. 

The plot of this popular Russian show is incredible. After World War II, one man is calling the shots in the Soviet Union city of Odesa. Unfortunately for everybody involved, that man is a serial killer and a Nazi collaborator.

Moscow cannot tolerate this (of course) and one day, Stalin sends his best general Georgy Zhukov (he is like a Soviet military version of Batman) to restore order in the city. 

There is a bit of comedy as well since in every episode, a lead investigator David Gottsman is trying to put everybody in the world behind bars (no matter if they are guilty or not). I don’t know why, but that’s funny to Russians.

IMDB score: 8.3/10

5. Brief Guide to a Happy Life (2012)

This list of incredible Russian television shows would not be complete without one of the best series ever created.

This TV series is all about Sasha, her life as a single mom who is simultaneously taking care of her parents and her son.

This drama turns to comedy after Sasha meets Pyotr – a man who later becomes her boss, lover, friend and God knows what else.

IMDB score: 6.8/10

6. The Thaw (2013)

This Russian TV series is set in The Soviet Union, during a time where a lot of political prisoners were being released from Gulags.

Viktor is trying to shoot a movie based on his late-friends script. Today, for its visuals, this production is often compared to HBO’s Mad Men.

Set in the 1960s, this show is a must-watch for anybody who wants to learn more about Russian life and culture.

IMDB score: 7.8/10

7. Dolce Vita (2014)

The first season of this Russian TV series had its release (way back when) at the same time as the crash of oil prices in the world (I don’t know why I know this but now you know it too). 

The show centers around a group of successful young couples in their thirties. With the arrival of Sasha (a former ballerina now turned go-go dancer), the life of every character is turned upside down.

Dolce Vita is the second most searched Russian TV series online, with its record still holding up in 2020.

Watch this series with English subtitles if you don’t know the Russian language. If you know it, then watching this Dolce Vita is a great way to expand your vocabulary. 

IMDB score: 7.0/10

8. Infidelities (2015)

Infidelities is a Russian TV mini-series directed by Vadim Perelman. The plot follows a young woman as she cheats on her husband with three different men.

A great Russian TV drama series about human behavior, relationships, and love, this Russian series will get you thinking about your own life.

There are a lot of nude scenes, which will certainly help you improve your vocabulary (it’s a joke, come on). 

The show is on par with the best Russian movies.

IMDB score: 7.2/10

9. Sleepers (2017)

What better way to spend 2020 than to watch a TV series that follows a Federal Security Service officer, who uncovers a web of US sleeper agents.

After its release in 2017, this amazing show provoked a small scandal by putting forward the idea that the US is still putting sleeper agents in foreign countries.

Only a couple of days after the release, the director Yuriy Bykov deleted his Facebook account and told the public that he will stop making TV shows.

Spyashchie is one of the most popular Russian shows and best for those who are trying to make sense of today’s world. 

IMDB score: 5.7/10

10. Evening Urgant (2012 – )

Evening Urgant is a Russian late-night talk show, made in a format that was established in the USA. There are guests, monologues, music, and jokes (lots of jokes).

The host, Ivan Urgant, has said that his program was greatly influenced by late-night hosts, such as David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon.

After its release, the show was number one in Russia and a lot of people got to see many foreign celebrities appearing, for the first time, on Russian television. 

IMDB score: 6.4/10

Top Russian TV Shows on Netflix to Watch in 2021

11. Silver Spoon (2014 – ) 

First on this list is a Russian TV series that made its debut in 2014 It was the first Russian TV show Netflix has purchased. 

Igor, a son of a Russian oligarch, gets into some trouble with the police (he gets into a fist fight with the cops), because of his behavior. 

Instead of going to jail, Igor’s dad (mind you a Russian oligarch) sets him up with a job with the police department. 

Igor ends up learning more about the mystery behind his mother’s death, while also helping the cops with a plethora of cases. The whole series is set in present-day Moscow.

The story and the development of characters make this show the best Russian TV series to watch during this strange year of 2020.

The Silver Spoon is available for streaming on Netflix (with English subtitles, of course).

IMDB score: 7.8/10

12. Masha And The Bear (2007 – ) 

And now, something for the kids, as my second pick on this 2020 list. This comedy is filled with action and is one of the best-animated TV shows on Netflix.

As the title suggests, every episode revolves around a little girl Masha and her protective bear. 

Each season is more entertaining than the previous. The show is made to help kids improve their vocabulary (learn new words), learn more about life, and have fun.

Great for language learning, this Netflix animated series is still going strong (last season was released in 2019). 

IMDB score: 7.5

13. Life Of A Mistress (2018 – ) 

Dmitry Cherkasov has created the slowest Russian show Netflix has to offer.

Born as a mistress, after the death of her father, Polina Lebedeva is forced to start a new life as a slave.

Her new owner is Count Andrey, a man with the biggest vocabulary in the series.  

Certainly, one of the best TV series on Netflix in 2019 and 2020.

Make sure to turn on the English subtitles unless you know the language, in which case наслаждаться.

IMDB score: 7.7/10

14. Better Than Us (2018 – 2019)

This TV show is created by Andrey Junkovsky. This science-fiction series was released on Netflix in 2019 and was highly watched in 2020. 

The original title of the series was “Luchshe, chem lyudi”, but Netflix, after the purchase in 2019., decided to change the name to Better Than Us.

I am not going to reveal too much information and will only say a couple of words: Androids, 100 years old robotic laws and an “I, robot” (and similar movies) rip-off.

The production ended in 2019, but the rumor has it that it will continue in 2020 (covid really ruined everything).

The series is available with English subtitles (100% a factual statement).

IMDB score: 7.9/10

15. Method (2015) 

Rodion is an amazing detective, tasked with catching the worst kind of criminals (like in so many crime movies). He is a lone wolf that gets a new trainee, Esenia (again, many movies are like that). 

Through this partnership, Esenia learns all about Rodions “unusual methods” of investigation, while at the same time trying to solve the mysterious murder of her mother. 

There are many movies and TV series that were purchased by Netflix, but this crime drama TV series is the one that really strikes the chord for me. 

Netflix has world-class movies but this is the type of series that words simply can not describe.

With its two seasons (the second one came out in November of 2020), The Method is probably the most highly reviewed Russian TV series of 2020. 

IMDB score: 7.4/10

Best Russian Series on Amazon to Watch in 2021

16. Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great (2014 – )

Aleksandar was great, but did you hear about Catherine or Ekaterina? She was ok. I mean, more than ok.. she was great as well.

After the death of her husband Petar III, Catherine became the Empress of Russia (I guess it is not true that behind every successful woman there is a strong man).

After its release, the series quickly reached high levels of popularity with audiences across the World.

The third season came out in 2019, and like all the previous seasons (2 of them) it’s available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video with English subtitles. 

This series is a great way to spend your time at home (it’s 2020, you are probably home), learn a bit about Russian history and language.

The series is free for Amazon Prime members.

IMDB score: 7.9/10

17. Love In Chains (2019 – )

Production of this piece of art started in 2019 and is still going strong (thank God!). 

This series is about a young girl (Katerina Verbitskaya) from the upper class that (as the title suggests) falls in love with a man (Alexey Kosach) who is not aware of her situation (what?!).

Her husband (Peter Chervinsky) treats her poorly and she is in a desperate search to find a new lover and embrace the world of happiness.

To find out the outcome of this love triangle and discover the full meaning behind the words of the title, watch this series. 

The series is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Prime members can watch it for free with English subtitles. 

IMDB score: 7.5/10

18. The Golden Horde (2018 – )

This series starts with a guy (Boris) losing his girl (princess Ustinia) and his brother (Yaroslav) moving the whole army in an effort to release her.

The first episode is a bit slow but you should watch it and be patient. Your patience will be rewarded with great battles and passionate betrayals. 

This series is also available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video and is free for its prime members from 2019.

IMDB score: 7.5/10

The Bottom Line

Watching Russian series on Netflix or Amazon Video Prime ever (if you’re a prime member) is a great way to improve your Russian language skills.

If you can’t be bothered to start learning a new language, then you should watch some of the shows from the list, just to have fun.

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