As a prolific virus is travelling the world, many of us have some time at home to kill. Quarantine, curfew or precaution – whatever the reason may be: audiovisual streaming services will certainly be in high demand in the next few months. If you are looking for pastimes (other than reading this blog, of course, or listening to the equivalent podcast), here are 3 German shows you should definitely put on your watch list.
In this blog – and certainly also on other occasions – I have been ranting about the deplorable quality of German TV. Meanwhile, as the entertainment industry is growing, streaming services are cropping up and competition is on the rise, I have more often than in previous decades happened upon the odd gem here and there. And while we’re at it, why don’t we go ahead and select the ones created by and/or featuring extraordinary women?
Here are three German Wonder Woman shows you should not miss:
- Ku’damm 56
Currently offered on (German) Netflix and ZDF Mediathek, this miniseries created by author and screen writer Annette Hess is a genre-defying masterpiece. In 1950ies Berlin, the Schöllack family find themselves ‘headless’: Mother Caterina and her three teenage daughters Monika, Helga and Eva, are left to their own devices and must figure out how to keep the family ballroom dance school running. Control-freaky matron Caterina keeps plotting marrying her daughters off – but each of the young women has her own way of struggling with her expected role.
To call Ku’damm 56 a period drama would be telling merely a fraction of the truth. Depending on one’s focus, one could call it an audiovisual treatise of family psychology, a feminist manifesto, a socio-critical analysis of 1950ies Germany, a passionate plea to follow your heart, an empathic tale of the tribulations of individuals in times of harsh social judgment.
I was instantly drawn in and deeply moved by the powerful storytelling and scintillating acting. Especially the chemistry between Sonja Gerhardt’s Monika and Trystan Pütter’s Freddy is a staggering feast.
The sequel Ku’damm 59 is also recommended, and another series (Ku´damm 63) is underway. Another series that Hess created also deserves a special mention here: Weissensee.
2. Aenna Burda: Die Wirtschaftswunderfrau
This two-parter starring Katharina Wackernagel sheds light on the life of Aenne Burda, a woman who defies her traditional role and becomes an icon entrepreneur against all odds. In post-war Germany, the wife of women’s magazine mogul Franz Burda comes up with an innovative concept for marketing sewing patterns and sets out to revolutionise the world of women’s fashion by stealth.
The inspiring story of an unconventional quest.
3. Erich Kästner und der kleine Dienstag
This film from 2016, written by Dorothee Schön, portrays one of the great German authors Erich Kästner and tells a captivating story of his friendship with a boy who is also one of his most ardent readers. As Nazi laws get more and more restrictive in 1930ies Germany, the progressive writer not only sees Jewish friends perish but also finds himself under fire. Eventually, he is faced with the decision of whether or not to leave the country and comes up with a heart-breaking ploy to protect his young friend.
This work is a call to courage (Hello, Brené Brown!) and a moving tale of defiance in the face of human tragedy.
Next time, we’ll look at some more entertainment options.
The Pommes Buddha says: Shall we put the telly on?
Listen to this text as a podcast episode: