• Some of the best TV shows coming soon are foreign series that American audiences should watch out for.
  • We recommend three international series coming to HBO Max, Apple TV+, and Sundance TV.
  • Check out our earlier report here for our vote for the best TV shows of 2020 so far.

The Godfather trilogy is a masterpiece of American cinema that audiences will no doubt still be fawning over years from now. There’s so much to appreciate about Al Pacino’s career-making turn as Michael Corleone, with his gradual transformation from a beloved son and war hero into his father’s successor as the don of the Corleone family — but foremost, for me, is the fact that it’s a performance that just never gets old.

In my early days as a reporter, I had a lawyer source of mine who used the character as a metaphor to explain to me (off the record, of course) a maneuver he was about to make against some litigious opponents. “You remember that scene in The Godfather, right after they christen the baby?” he asked me. How could I not? It’s one of the most pivotal scenes in the trilogy. It presents the baptism of Michael’s nephew, for whom he’s now the godfather — while, at the same time, Micheal has set in motion the assassination of an assortment of enemies to ensure his status as the Corleone family’s new actual Godfather. “That’s what I’m gonna do, take ‘em all out,” the lawyer told me. A little over the top, but I got the point.

At any rate, there is one shortcoming of the movies you could point to, if you absolutely had to. There’s a kind of Golden Age of Hollywood sheen to the whole thing. It exchanges verisimilitude for entertainment value and a story of Shakespearean depth and expansiveness, one that’s also redolent with cigar smoke and men in fedoras and trench coats brandishing handguns — all the kinds of things you expect to see in a classic mob movie.  This is why, for my money, one of the best TV shows of the last several years is one that actually takes an altogether different approach in tackling the same thing. The show is an Italian crime drama called Gomorrah, and where The Godfather oozes style, this series will feel more familiar to fans of something like The Sopranos. It’s cold, brutal, unforgiving, a dog-eat-dog constant struggle between warring crime syndicates in the city of Naples, where the gunfights are chaotic and messy, there are none of those memorable quips that jump off the pages of a movie script — and, most important, there are no heroes. No one even remotely likable. Just different degrees of dirty and evil.

I’ve seen the first two seasons of the series, and I’ve been waiting quite a while for the announcement of when additional seasons would come stateside. Thankfully, HBO Max has come to the rescue and announced that moment is almost at hand.

The service recently announced that HBO Max will soon be home “to all seasons of the iconic Italian crime series Gomorrah, based on Roberto Saviano’s bestselling book that examines the account of the decline of Naples under the rule of the Camorra (crime syndicate). Seasons three and four, followed by the series’ feature film spin-off The Immortal and finally, the highly anticipated fifth season of the series, will be seen by American audiences for the first time on HBO Max.”

HBO Max representatives confirmed to me this week that they still don’t have an exact date for when Gomorrah will land on the streamer, but the recent announcement suggests it will be sometime before the end of this year. “Gomorrah, which The New York Times recently rated #5 of the top 30 international shows of the decade, is centered in and around Naples, Italy,” HBO Max’s announcement continues. “Power, money, and blood are the values that the residents of the province of Naples and Caserta confront every day. They have practically no choice and are forced to obey the rules of the local Mafia and only a lucky few can even think of leading a normal life. In this series, five stories are woven together in this violent scenario, set in a cruel and ostensibly invented world, but one that is deeply rooted in reality.”

This is definitely a series worth putting on your must-watch list once it arrives. Meanwhile, here are two others to consider while we wait on Gomorrah to arrive:

Tehran

From Apple: “A new espionage thriller from Fauda writer Moshe Zonder that tells the thrilling story of a Mossad agent who goes deep undercover on a dangerous mission in Tehran that places her and everyone around her in dire jeopardy.”


Deutschland 89

From Sundance TV: “When the ‘anti-fascist’ Berlin Wall falls on November 9, 1989, superspy Martin Rauch must deal with the consequences. The peaceful revolution has thrown his world into turmoil. In the face of a new world order, our heroes need to reinvent themselves.” This series, by the way, is a follow up to two other similarly-named series, Deutschland 83 and Deutschland 86.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.