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TV X-Streamist | Secrets & Spies

Finest Foreign Intrigue in the Stream-O-Sphere

Judging from the stream-o-sphere, foreigners are a lot better at spying than Americans. So, to catch up on the very finest foreign intrigue, be prepared to read subtitles. Trust me, it’s worth it. 

Prisoners of War (Hulu)

Homeland was based on this Israeli miniseries aired in 2010 and 2012. Like me, many thought it would just be versions of Claire Danes and Damian Lewis sneaking around and passing secrets in Hebrew, but almost immediately, the story becomes something else altogether. The characters and their problems are completely different; twists unwind unexpectedly, and there are only two seasons (both set in 2008), so you won’t have to go sleepless all month. (Two seasons)

The Bureau (Sundance Now via Amazon Prime)

Deep-cover agents in the French equivalent of the CIA encounter treacherous international plots. This secret government department is small enough that the viewer can become seriously involved (maybe, like me, to an unhealthy degree) with its personalities and their struggles not only with evil cabals but with their personal demons and questions of self-identity. (Four seasons)

Sleeper Cell (Showtime)

Okay, here’s one without subtitles: Aired in 2005-06, this harrowing series revolves around a young Muslim undercover FBI agent tasked with thwarting a planned terrorist attack on L.A. (18 episodes)

The Night Manager and The Little Drummer Girl (via Amazon Prime)

A John le Carré two-fer, these two outstanding adaptations were released on AMC fairly recently. Both of them do justice to these excellent espionage novels and feature fantastic performances. 

Fauda (Netflix)

You need a little time to become situated within a cadre of undercover Israeli commandos (after all, “fauda” is the Hebrew word for chaos). Then, you’ll be holding on to your skull caps while they chase down Hamas terrorists. Based on the creators’ real-life experiences in the Israel Defense Forces, the series was filmed during the 2014 Arab-Israeli conflict it depicts. The private lives of the men and women on both sides of the tumult draw you in as much as the action and intrigue. (Two seasons so far)

Deutschland 83 (Sundance TV via Amazon Prime)

A young East German is sent as an undercover Stasi spy to embed in the West German army. Nuclear and romantic options explode. You really keep having to watch just one more episode. By the end of the series, you understand why walls really never work. (Eight episodes)

The Same Sky (Netflix)

Because of the success of Deutschland 83, Netflix and Amazon got into a bidding war (Netflix won) over The Same Sky. I had never heard of a “Romeo” agent before, but in this period ’70s series, there’s a handsome East German Cold Warrior assigned to seduce a pretty West German intelligence analyst. The lives of these two along with their friends and families etch the differences between Communism and Capitalism, and nothing is black-and-white or even Red. (Six episodes)

The Looming Tower (Hulu)

If you missed last year’s dramatization of the events both here and abroad that led to 9/11, well, you shouldn’t have. Based on Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book, this series is as spell-binding, scandalous, and surprising as any story in which you didn’t already know the ending. (10 episodes)

False Flag (Hulu)

We’re back in Israel again, for a series that is equal parts excitement and shock. Five seemingly random citizens are arrested and accused of a high-profile kidnapping. Surrounded by public shame and left adrift by Mossad and the government, even their friends (and viewers like me) start to distrust them. We follow the ramifications for each of the five caught in this net until we realize it’s 3 a.m. and have to turn off the TV. (Two seasons)

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