5 Spanish-language TV shows to improve your español

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, with more than 577 million native speakers living across over 20 plus countries.

This diversity provides learners with a wide array of accents, vocabulary, dialects and culture to explore.

Want to get an inside view of Latin culture and spice up your learning process? We all do. Just like movies, TV series can provide additional learning material and are a fantastic way for you to get familiar with typical Spanish intonation and pronunciation as well as colloquial expressions. As a bonus, you can do all of this sitting down, which experts believe has no positive impact on your health. Whether you’re a beginning learner of Spanish or a more advanced student, you’re bound to find a TV show that suits your fancy.

Gymglish has neatly compiled 5 TV shows to brush up on your Spanish skills rápidamente.

La hora de José Mota (2009-2012)

Let’s begin things with the classic television sketch show La hora de José Mota, aired between 2009 and 2012 by national Spanish network TVE. The show was presented by and starred Manchegan actor and comedian José Mota (1965 -).

The show was a hit with TV audiences up to the end of its run. Some of the show’s characters and catchphrases have become cultural references. “Hoy no, mañana” (“Not today, tomorrow”) has now become a cult phrase and used to express reluctance or unwillingness.

Fun fact: La Hora de José Mota was TVE’s most expensive series to produce, and cost around 13,000 euros per minute to film. Excessive spending on entertainment is a priority, right?

El chavo del ocho (1971-1980)

Fue sin querer queriendo” (“I meant it without meaning it”).

First broadcast in 1971, the television show El chavo del ocho stars legendary Mexican actor and screenwriter Roberto Gómez Bolaños (1929-2014), also known as Chespirito.

The show follows the exploits of an 8-year-old orphan nicknamed El Chavo who lives inside a barrel and is constantly getting into trouble. Relatable. This show is the most famous production in the history of Mexican television, and has been broadcast for more than 40 years in multiple Latin American countries. It has become an integral part of the continent’s popular culture.

Fun fact: the term Chavo is an abbreviation of chaval, a slang term for a young man in Mexico.

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Plinio (1972)

Based on the popular novels written by Francisco García Pavón (1919-1989), the Spanish crime TV series Plinio (1972) was directed by Antonio Giménez-Rico (1938 -2021).

The story centers around the investigations of a municipal police officer in Tomelloso, a remote Spanish village. Plinio, portrayed by Spanish actor Antonio Casal (1910-1974), is a man of few words but insightful when it comes to solving cases in old-fashioned ways.

It was the most cutting-edge Spanish television production of its time. Plinio features renowned screenwriters, like José Luis Garci (1944), who later received an Academy Award for the film Volver a empezar.

Fun fact: Plinio used the latest color film technologies, a huge breakthrough for Spanish TV at the time.

La otra mirada (2018-2019)

The television series La otra mirada (“The other perspective”) was broadcast between 2018 and 2019 and produced by the Corporación Radiotelevisión Española (Spanish Radio and Television Corporation, RTVE), which develops the public radio and television service in Spain.

The story takes place in an academy for young ladies in Seville during the 1920s. The series focuses on Teresa, a young art teacher who disrupts the traditionalist principles of the school with her modern ideas, and played by actress Patricia López Arnaiz (1981-).

Fun fact: The drama features emblematic landmarks of the capital of Seville, such as the Puente de Triana (Triana Bridge), the Muelle de la sal (Salt Wharf) and the Reales Alcázares (Royal Alcázars).

Las chicas del cable (2017 -)

One of the most memorable series of the XXIst century, the period drama Las chicas del cable (Cable girls) was created by screenwriters Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira and broadcast for the first time on Netflix in 2017.

In 1928 Madrid, The National Telephone Company opened its headquarters in the city center. Hundreds queued up to get a job as “cable girls”. We follow the lives of four women from very different backgrounds who find themselves working as switchboard operators and strive to fight for their independence and rights in a patriarchal society.

Las Chicas del Cable mainly focuses on the struggles women faced during the 1920s, with universal themes still relevant today, centered around discrimination in the workforce, spousal abuse, and LGBTQ rights.

Fun fact: the series takes place during the “interwars” period, just before the rise of communism and Franco’s totalitarian regime. A great period to grow up in.

Today’s selection of clips is featured in the “dessert” section of our online Spanish lessons Hotel Borbollón. Each lesson contains an authentic sample of Hispanic culture to finish off your daily lessons in style. These include excerpts from cinema, series, songs, and more.

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