Best Russian TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime (2019)

Watching popular Russian TV shows is an excellent way to learn about the culture while practicing vocabulary and listening skills. Luckily for us language learners, Netflix and Amazon Prime recently started adding Russian TV series to their streaming lineups.

If you are an advanced learner, I recommend turning on Russian subtitles when available as studies show it enhances language learning.

Here are some of the best Russian shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime in the US as of July 1, 2019. If you’re not in the US, just click the title to check if the show is available in your country. Watch them while you can, because content disappears as licensing agreements expire.

Best Russian TV Shows on Netflix

1. Silver Spoon (Мажор)

This unique crime drama, beloved in its home country, was the first Russian television show to be acquired by NetflixForced to become an apprentice cop, spoiled rich kid Igor finds he’s got a knack for police work. But his job soon takes him down a dark personal path.

Interesting commentary on the decadent lifestyle of the kids of Russia’s oligarchs as well as the country’s endemic corruption. Мажор is set in Moscow, but the first season was filmed in Kiev. The second season was filmed in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Personal note: I saw star Pavel Priluchnyy filming on the streets of St. Petersburg in 2018, and he is even more handsome in real life! *swoons* 😉

Season 3 has been released on Russian TV but has yet to come to Netflix.

2. The Method (Метод)

Slick serial killer crime show that’s a Russian adaptation of Dexter. This dark psychological thriller follows a brilliant young graduate who is elated when her idol takes her on as a trainee. But his methods are much more disturbing than she imagined…

3. Fartsa (Фарца)

This bright, energetic series suffers from an unfortunate name, but provides a colorful glimpse of Russia in the early ’60s. As four friends grow up, life, love, and the curse of success threaten to derail their dreams.

4. The Sniffer (Нюхач)

The Sniffer (English Subtitles)

Fun Russian-language detective series shot in the Ukraine but set in an unnamed Russian city. An extraordinary sense of smell gives a crime investigator unique insight into solving mysteries, but his gift takes a toll on his personal life.

5. The Road to Calvary (Хождение по мукам)

The Road to Calvary Trailer English subtitles

This epic period drama is based on the novel “Sisters,” the first part of Alexey Tolstoy’s trilogy “The Road to Calvary.” Swept up in political unrest during World War I, two sisters in St. Petersburg cope with turbulent romances as Russian history is made around them.

6. Trotsky (Tроцкий)

Trotsky – MIPCOM 2017 World Premiere Screening trailer

The complex historical figure of Leon Trotsky comes to life in this epic biography depicting the tumultuous life of the Russian revolutionary. The series debuted on Channel One in Russia on November 6, 2017 for the centenary of the Russian Revolution. The show is a rare high-budget artistic representation of Trotsky in post-Soviet Russia, as his name was taboo for most of the Soviet period.

7. Sparta (Sпарта)

Sпарта фильм – Трейлер

Note: No English subtitles available for trailer, but there is not much dialogue

The mysterious death of a teacher who throws herself out of a window at a St. Petersburg school attracts the attention of law enforcement. A local detective interrogates the students of the deceased and learns about the addictive high-stakes video game Sparta, which blurs the line between the real and the virtual world.

Did the teacher commit suicide or was she the victim of a teenaged Sparta player?

8. Locust (Саранча)

Note: No English subtitles available for trailer

A torrid affair between a passionate lowborn poet and a wealthy Moscow heiress is engulfed by class difference, criminality and, eventually, murder.

9. Masha and the Bear (Маша и Медведь)

Masha and the Bear – Official Trailer – Netflix [HD]

This internationally popular Russian cartoon is loosely based on the children’s folk tale of the same name. The show follows the adventures of a little girl named Masha and a fatherly bear that always keeps her from disasters.

The simple dialogue is easy to understand, and there are lots of Russian cultural references. Be sure to change the audio (and possibly the subtitles) to Russian.

If you enjoy this adorable animated series, there are two additional spin-off shows on Netflix.

10. Kikoriki (Смеша́рики)

Kikoriki: Deja Vu – Official Trailer HD (2017)

Another popular animated series good for learners aimed at kids aged 3 to 8 years. A wacky rabbit and his gang of animal pals have fun solving problems, sharing stories, and exploring their fairy-tale world. Lots of Russian cultural references.

Be sure to change the audio to Russian.

Best Russian TV Series on Amazon Prime

I hope you love my Russian TV show recommendations like I do! Just so you know, I may get a small commission from any purchases made using the Amazon links in this section at no extra cost to you.

Amazon Prime Video has an incredible and growing collection of Russian TV series available to stream free for Prime members. Unfortunately, Amazon video search by language is pretty terrible, so I’ve done the hard work for you.

Not a Prime member yet? Click here to start your free 30-day trial.

Alternatively, try Russian TV producer Star Media’s YouTube channel, which features several of these series.

1. The Red Queen (Красная королева)

Красная королева. Трейлер. The Red Queen. Trailer.

This fascinating Russian drama set in the Cold War era follows the meteoric rise of Regina Zbarskaya from a humble cleaner to the first Soviet supermodel. But who was the Red Queen? Was she queen of the catwalk or a KGB agent seducing foreign diplomats?

2. Ancestral Land (Рідний берег)

Ancestral Land. Trailer. Russian TV Series. Drama. StarMediaEN

An epic historical saga set in the Russian Urals centered on the Morozov family — Aleksey, Stepan, Aliona, and Varvara — two brothers and two sisters.

Miraculously, they all survive the slaughter of World War II, but not without learning some important lessons on the way, including the meaning of true love and how to cope with grief, leading them ultimately to a long-dreamed-of happiness.

3. Detective Anna (Анна – Детективъ)

Сериал Анна-Детективъ трейлер

Note: No English subtitles available for official trailer – watch alternative trailer with English subtitles

Amazon has finally added all episodes of Season 1 of this 19th-century murder mystery about 19-year-old Anna, who unexpectedly discovers that she possesses supernatural powers. The spirits of the dead literally haunt her, begging for help.

Aided by her visions, Anna manages to investigate and solve a number of mysterious crimes that have baffled the police.

The series was filmed in the State History Museum-Reserve Gorky Leninskiye near Moscow, where an entire movie town was constructed with streets, shops, mansions, and a police station.

Also available on YouTube.

4. Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great (Екатерина)

Ekaterina, Rise of Catherine The Great | TRAILER [HD] | MagellanTV

Lavish production that traces the sensational rise of one of the most famous women in history, Catherine the Great. Ekaterina begins her journey as an innocent young German princess who came to Russia to marry Peter III. Once she ascended the throne, this brilliant leader transformed the Russian empire. Spectacular sets and costumes.

Season 2 is available on Prime under its own page here.

5. Sophia (Софи́я)

Sofia (Russian TV Series) – Official Drama TV Trailer | English Subtitles | TV Promos

This historical drama set in 15th-century Russia follows Sophia, the last Byzantine princess, as she moves from Rome to Moscow to marry Czar Ivan III. Destined to become the first influential female figure of the Russian Empire, Sophia overcomes court intrigue and betrayals and helps Ivan consolidate the fragmented country, push Mongolian invaders out, and build the Kremlin.

This lush production does suffer from some factual inaccuracies and is best viewed as historical fiction.

6. Spies (Разведчицы)

SPIES – Trailer /HD/ english subtitles

In World War II, Arina and Zoya are recruited by NKVD to become spies behind enemy lines in Riga, Crimea, Poland, and Germany. Their mission is to infiltrate the Germans by seducing senior military officers. Suspenseful drama with great acting and interesting storytelling.

7. Catherine The Great (Екатерина Bеликая)

Catherine the Great – Official English Trailer (Russia TV Drama Series)

Another popular version of the Catherine story. This sumptuous production was filmed in Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast.

8. Snow and Ashes (Снег и пепел)

Снег и пепел (трейлер телеканала наше HD)

Note: No English subtitles available for trailer

Suspenseful four-part thriller set in 1942. With the Germans about to mount an attack, there is a dangerous saboteur in the Russian camp. It’s up to a KGB major and his team to expose the Nazi saboteur before it’s too late.

Also available on YouTube.

9. Night Swallows (Ночные Ласточки)

Night Swallows – Trailer

In 1941, Stalin issued a secret order forming the first female aviation unit, the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. The most highly decorated female unit in the Soviet Air Force, each pilot had flown over 1000 missions by the end of the war with 23 pilots awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.

Similar in theme to Spies, although not quite as well-made.

Also available on YouTube.

10. Rasputin (Григорий Р)

Rasputin (2014) trailer eng sub

Russophiles shouldn’t miss this series about the mad monk Grigoriy Rasputin, who became a hugely influential figure at the court of Tsar Nicholas II.

11. Margarita Nazarova – Queen of the Tigers (Маргарита Назарова)

Трейлер сериала Маргарита Назарова (Первый канал)

Margarita’s life path took her from the hardships of slave labor in Germany during WWII to the world fame of a tiger tamer and actress.

Tells the story of an brave woman called to an unusual profession, with a strong character and immense talent who still commands respect among circus lovers today.

12. Russian Beauty (Королева красоты)

Королева красоты 2015 – русский трейлер (2015) Сериал фильм мелодрама

The beauty of simple country girl Katerina Panova conquered the world. She became the face of Soviet fashion of the ’60s. Paris and Prague applauded the Russian beauty and the press called her “the national treasure of the USSR,” but at home Soviet reality, envy, intrigue, and tragic love awaited her.

13. Never Let Me Go (Только не Отпускай Меня)

Never Let Me Go. Trailer. Russian TV series. Сriminal Drama. English Subtitles. StarMedia

This four-episode criminal drama follows Natasha, a hard-working nurse who lives a modest existence with her mother. Meanwhile, Lera, the daughter of wealthy parents, lives in another part of the city.

One day, when a desperate Lera is about to jump from her balcony, Natasha saves her life. Fate has thrown our two heroines together, giving them an opportunity to help each other.

Also available on YouTube.

14. Tatiana’s Night (Татьянина ночь)

Татьянина ночь. Сериал. Трейлер. Феникс Кино. Мелодрама

Life seems great for 20-year-old university student Tanya as Moscow prepares to host the 1980 Summer Olympics, until one dark night when everything falls apart.

15. The Dog (Пёс)

Никита Панфилов в остросюжетном сериале «Пёс» — с 18 сентября в 19:40 на НТВ

Note: No English subtitles available for trailer

Charming Ukrainian show that follows Max, one of the city’s best detectives, who lost his job, his friends, and his marriage due to his alcoholism. He then partners with his one remaining friend, his dog, to help the police solve crimes and save the day.

16. The Attackers (Истребители)

The Attackers – Trailer

Important note: Amazon has accidentally split this series’ two seasons into separate listings, The Attackers (Season 1) and Attackers: The Last Flight (Season 2). Be sure to watch them in order.

World War II buffs will enjoy this series about two young air force pilots who arrive at flight training school only to find themselves going immediately to the frontline. Unfortunately the young pilots fail in their first mission, and are to be tried and executed.

On their way to the place of execution, however, the commander of the attacker wing petitions personally for their release, and our heroes are given one last chance. Now they become attackers and will have to courageously execute the most complex of orders without hesitation or fear for their own lives.

The Attackers (Season 1) and Attackers: The Last Flight (Season 2) also available on YouTube.

17. Once upon a Time in Odessa (Однажды в Одессе)

Once upon a Time in Odessa – Trailer

Russian series about the Jewish mafia set in Odessa, Ukraine during and after the czar. Mishka Yaponchik was an Ukrainian gangster, Jewish revolutionary, and Soviet military leader. Soviet Jewish writer Isaak Babel based his character Benia Krik in The Odessa Tales on this legendary criminal, Odessa’s Robin Hood.

Also available on YouTube.

18. Life and Fate (Жизнь и судьба)

Жизнь и судьба – трейлер

Note: No English subtitles available for trailer

Based on the famous 1960 novel by Vasily Grossman of the same name, once banned in the Soviet Union. Like the novel, the series presents a epic saga of life in the Soviet Union in World War II during the battle of Stalingrad.

Also available on YouTube.

19. The Dawns Here Are Quiet (А зори здесь тихие)

The Dawns Here Are Quiet. Trailer. TV series. StarMediaEN

A 2015 TV series remake of the beloved Soviet film based on Boris Vasilyev’s novel of the same name.

In late spring of 1942, the Great Patriotic War is in full swing. A long way off from the front line, the Germans make an air landing operation in an attempt to mount a surprise attack on Russian positions. The only thing in their way is the anti-aircraft artillery unit of Corporal Vaskov and five female anti-aircraft gunners.

20. Three Days in the Life of Lt. Kravtsov (Три дня лейтенанта Кравцова)

Три Дня Лейтенанта Кравцова. Трейлер. StarMedia. Военная Драма

When 18-year-old Lt. Kravtsov reports for active duty as a platoon commander, the average survival time for this position is only three days. During this time, he must lead his troops in a hopeless attack. The question is, can he survive these three days?

Also available on YouTube.

21. The Golden Horde (Золотая Орда)

The Golden Horde | 2019 Drama Series | Official English Trailer | Mongol Empire

Fun fictionalized story set at the end of the thirteenth century when Russia was under Tatar-Mongol rule. Grand Prince Yaroslav dreams of uniting the scattered Russian principalities and getting rid of the hated Tataro-Mongols, but his own brother, the disgraced Prince Boris, and his eldest son Vladimir stand in the way.

Have feedback on these Amazon Prime and Netflix Russian series or more recommendations for Russian TV programs? Some of my best suggestions come from readers! Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Banner image from The Red Queen © FILM.UA

24 Comments on “Best Russian TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime (2019)”

    • Thank you! Amazon Prime is becoming an amazing source for Russian series, even better than Netflix.

  1. Thanks for posting this Ingrid. I’m not learning Russian, but I commonly watch foreign films/TV and Netflix just recommended “Sparta” (aka. “Sпарта” and “S’parta”) to me. It was hard to find relevant search results for reviews/trailers using the English title Netflix assigned it, and your list was the first place I found a trailer for it, so thanks again.

    In the end, I stopped watching 1 minute into the trailer, as by then it was already clear that the show is perfect for me — it seems Netflix judged correctly.

    Cheers.

    ~a fellow software developer

    • Hi Corey, so glad it was helpful to you. I try to add value with these lists to help people decide what they want to watch.

      The trailers for these Russian series are often quite hard to find… I have to search the title in Russian and sometimes the cast too. It’s good practice for my Cyrillic. 🙂

      Enjoy your series and do let me know if you have any recommendations! Best, Ingrid

  2. After watching the first episode of Silver Spoon I was hooked. I binged watched both seasons of 1 & 2 over several weekends. Great character development and story lines. Can’t wait to see Season 3 on Netflix.
    Thanks for assembling all these suggestions for my next choice while waiting for Season 3 to begin. I was so engrossed, the subtitles never bothered me!

  3. Ran into Anna Detective by chance. Really like it and I hope that Amazon will have all the seasons available. I’m surprise all I can understand due to the fact that I know other not all that similar languages that are derived from the same source as Russian. Still need the subtitles, but I managed to get to the point of not needing subtitles for Korean shows, so hoping the same thing will happen eventually with Russian. What is the show about? A take on British late 1800’s and early 1900’s supernatural/detective stories, with a bit of romance thrown in.

      • Unfortunately, from what I’ve read Star Media does not plan to continue the series. 🙁 Disappointed by the cliffhanger ending!

  4. Hi. This is a great list but some of the links take me to films and series of the same name. I am in the UK if that makes any difference? I really want to watch the red queen but it takes me to a documentary about Mary Queen of Scots. Thanks xxxx

    • Hi Stephanie, thanks for letting me know about that! Unfortunately it looks like the Red Queen isn’t available on Amazon UK, and Amazon is trying to be helpful by directing you to another video with a similar name. Not ideal, I know! Just a thought, but some of my readers do use a VPN to get access to content restricted by geography. All the best, Ingrid

    • Hi Jael, sounds like a great show. Up til now, Netflix has only acquired Russian series by the production company Sreda, and Amazon Prime seems to mostly feature historical dramas, but hopefully both will continue expanding their catalogs!

    • Jess, unfortunately I can’t find any references to plans for a second season, either in English or Russian.

  5. I have become addicted to Russian movies and television series, primarily the WWII era offerings. They are well done, well acted, and provide me with some Russian history I am unaware of. Reading sub-titles has become second nature now. My favorites to date are “Once Upon a Time in Odessa”, “Spies”, both seasons of “The Attackers”, “Demoted”, “The Tolstoy Defense”, “Night Swallows”…and I guess the list is very long! Thank you Amazon Prime!

    • Thanks so much for the additional recommendations, Terry. I’m overseas right now but will add these when I get back.

    • I’ve added your suggestions, Terry. Since “Demoted” and “The Tolstoy Defense” are movies, I didn’t add them to this list of TV shows, but they look like great recommendations for fans of this genre. Thanks again.

  6. Thank you. I’m half-way through Метод, and have added a lot of the others to my lists. I’m UK, and some, eg Red Queen, don’t show up, but there’s plenty to keep me going. Congratulations on escaping from IT, by the way 🙂

    • So glad the list has been helpful, Kevin! Hopefully Red Queen will become available in the UK soon. Amazon Prime should add a request page for TV shows and movies like Netflix, but unfortunately they lag far behind them in this regard!

  7. Hello! Thanks for this great list… Do you think that any of the series would be appropriate for kids (8 & 6)? My children are spending the summer with their Russian grandparents at the cottage, and I would love them to spend some quality time watching TV in Russian. Thanks again!

    • Hi, it’s a great idea to get them started at such an early age. Definitely check out “Masha and the Bear” and “Kikoriki” in the Netflix list above. Here in the US Netflix has quite a few Russian kids’ cartoons… to see the full list of Russian shows on Netflix, go to this link: https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/1769574.

      Just switch the audio to Russian when watching. Note: I recommend skipping the kids’ show Booba since it doesn’t have any dialogue!

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