Best Russian TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime (2018)

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 December 1, 2018. 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 on the streets of St. Petersburg in 2018 filming the latest season, and he is even more handsome in real life! *swoons* 😉

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)

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)

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.

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.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, check out these Russian TV series available to stream for free in the US as of November 1, 2018. Not a member yet? Click here to start your free 30-day trial.

1. The Red Queen (Красная королева)

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

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.

3. Sophia (Софи́я)

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.

4. Detective Anna (Анна – Детективъ)

Note: No English subtitles available for trailer

Amazon has finally added all episodes of Season 1 of this 19th-century murder mystery about nineteen-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.

5. Spies (Разведчицы)

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.

6. Catherine The Great (Екатерина Bеликая)

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

7. Rasputin (Григорий Р)

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.

8. Anna Karenina (Анна Каренина)

This newly visioned retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel is set in the late 19th century, centered around the aristocratic Anna Karenina. Watch Anna’s fatal story unfold after falling in love with the dashing Count Vronsky.

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

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. 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.

10. Russian Beauty (Королева красоты)

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.

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

Banner image from The Red Queen © FILM.UA

2 Comments on “Best Russian TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime (2018)

  1. Awesome Russian TV Shows for Language Learners. Red Queen rules. Loved learning with her.

    • Thank you! I hope this recent trend toward adding streaming Russian series continues.

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