27 of the Most Popular International TV Dramas of 2020.

Which were the most popular international dramas of 2020? Did your personal favourites make our list?

There was an astonishing amount of international scripted TV releasing new episodes in the UK in 2020: 375 shows are covered on our separate A-Z list. Far too many for any one individual (certainly for me) to watch enough of them to come up with any kind of definitive “best of” list. So this year I decided to use the statistics from the polls in our facebook group to see what YOU voted as the best dramas of the year. To make the list the shows had to be relatively popular in terms of viewings/number of poll votes as well as in terms of the percentage of those viewers recommending the series. The number listed (27) may be entirely arbitrary or may have allowed one or more of my personal favourites to sneak onto the list. The list is in alphabetical order. More details on how the calculations were done are at the bottom of the list.

The Adulterer (Overspel) – Seasons 2 & 3. (Netherlands) (Walter Presents)
“A chance meeting at an exhibition between photographer Iris Hoegaarde and top lawyer Willem Steenhouwer leads to an instant and undeniable attraction”.
Season 2 Approval rating: 91.43%, High Approval rating: 17.14%, Completion rate: 94.12%.
Season 3 Approval rating: 91.11%, High Approval rating: 62.22%, Completion rate: 95.56%.

Babylon Berlin – Season 3. (Germany) (Sky Atlantic)
“A shell-shocked Inspector falls into a tangled web of corruption while investigating pre-World War II Berlin’s seedy underbelly”.
Approval rating: 84.62%, High Approval rating: 84.62%, Completion rate: 84.62%.

Before We Die (Innan vi dör) – Season 2. (Sweden) (Walter Presents)
“Hanna Svensson is a police officer with high moral standards and principles to match. She has even sent her own son, Christian, to jail for selling narcotics”.
Approval rating: 87.32%, High Approval rating: 71.83%, Completion rate: 92.96%.

The Blood Pact (Klem) – Season 2. (Netherlands) (Walter Presents)
“Marius, an ex-con mobster with money problems and a high-ranking tax official Hugo become acquainted as their daughters are best friends”.
Approval rating: 96.88%, High Approval rating: 62.50%, Completion rate: 96.88%.

Bordertown (Sorjonen) – Season 3. (Finland) (Netflix)
“A gifted detective takes a job in a small town so he can spend more time with his family. But he’s soon drawn into a web of disturbing murder cases”.
Approval rating: 90.48%, High Approval rating: 80.95%, Completion rate: 95.24%.

The Bureau (Le Bureau des légendes) – Season 5. (France) (Sundance Now)
“Within the French secret service, one department knows as the DGSE manages the missions of all undercover operatives working under fake identities to identify intelligence sources. After 6 years undercover in Syria, agent “Malotru” is called back home. He will face the difficulty to forget his undercover identity, the disappearance of a colleague in Algeria & the training of a young girl”.
Approval rating: 97.37%, High Approval rating: 89.47%, Completion rate: 97.37%.

Caliphate (Kalifat) (Sweden) (Netflix)
“An impending ISIS attack on Sweden entangles a group of women, including a mother in a bind, a spirited student and an ambitious cop”.
Approval rating: 88.00%, High Approval rating: 14.00%, Completion rate: 92.00%.

Cardinal – Season 4. (Canada) (BBC Two)
“Obsessive, disillusioned detective Cardinal and his enigmatic partner Delorme face violent and twisted crimes in chillingly beautiful Northern Canada”.
Approval rating: 89.60%, High Approval rating: 72.28%, Completion rate: 97.03%.

Code 37: Sex Crimes – Season 3. (Belgium) (More4/Walter Presents)
“Chief Inspector Hannah Maes and her colleagues, old-timer Charles, macho Bob and rookie Kevin, must investigate Ghent’s most serious and violent sexual crimes”. 
Approval rating: 86.03%, High Approval rating: 64.71%, Completion rate: 88.97%.

Dark – Season 3. (Germany) (Netflix)
“A missing child sets four families on a frantic hunt for answers as they unearth a mind-bending mystery that spans three generations”. 
Approval rating: 85.25%, High Approval rating: 68.85%, Completion rate: 90.16%.

Deadwind – Season 2. (Finland) (Netflix)
“Just months after a tragic loss, detective Sofia Karppi investigates the murder of a woman with ties to a Helsinki construction company”.
Approval rating: 76.60%, High Approval rating: 13.83%, Completion rate: 92.55%.

DNA – Season 1. (Denmark) (BBC Four)
“Rolf Larsen, a respected detective on the Copenhagen police force, has his life brutally upended when his baby daughter goes missing. Five years later, a new lead emerges”.
Approval rating: 93.73%, High Approval rating: 71.08%, Completion rate: 97.56%. DNA received the most poll votes of any show in 2020.

Fauda – Season 3. (Israel) (Netflix)
“A top Israeli agent comes out of retirement to hunt for a Palestinian fighter he thought he’d killed, setting a chaotic chain of events into motion”.
Approval rating: 92.50%, High Approval rating: 80%, Completion rate: 97.50%.

The Lawyer (Advokaten) – Season 2. (Sweden) (Walter Presents)
“Fast-paced Nordic thriller set in Malmo and Copenhagen about young and promising defence lawyer Frank Nordling, whose whole world unravels when he learns the truth about his parents’ demise”.
Approval rating: 75.00%, High Approval rating: 63.33%, Completion rate: 81.67%.

Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) – Season 4. (Spain) (Netflix)
“Eight thieves take hostages and lock themselves in the Royal Mint of Spain as a criminal mastermind manipulates the police to carry out his plan”.
Approval rating: 92.31%, High Approval rating: 56.41%, Completion rate: 92.31%.

My Brilliant Friend (L’amica geniale) – Season 2. (Italy) (Sky Atlantic)
“A writer recounts her decades-long relationship with her best friend in the second series of the Italian drama based on Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels”.
Approval rating: 94.52%, High Approval rating: 93.15% Completion rate: 97.26%.

Normal People (Ireland) (BBC One/BBC iPlayer)
“Marianne and Connell weave in and out of each other’s lives in this exploration of sex, power and the desire to love and be loved. Adaptation of Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel”. 
Approval rating: 84.40%, High Approval rating: 77.30%, Completion rate: 88.65%.

The Other Mother (Maman a tort). (France) (Walter Presents)
“Detective Marianne Aubrais is busy with a high-stakes investigation, so will she listen to confused three-year-old Malone?”.
Approval rating: 90.24%, High Approval rating: 23.17%, Completion rate: 96.34%.

Ride Upon the Storm (Herrens veje) – Season 2. (Denmark) (Walter Presents)
“Danish drama about a family of priests who can trace their church roots back for 250 years”.
Approval rating: 74.24%, High Approval rating: 72.73%, Completion rate: 77.27%.

The Sandhamn Murders (Morden i Sandhamn) – Seasons 1 to 6. (Sweden) (Amazon Prime)
“When Nora Linde and her two children go to the beach one morning, she sees a body in the water. To begin with, the police think it’s a case of a drunken accident, but Inspector Thomas Andreasson suspects foul play”.
Approval rating: 77.61%, High Approval rating: 62.69%, Completion rate: 80.60%.

State of Happiness (Lykkeland) – Season 1. (Norway) (BBC Four)
“Drama set in Stavanger, Norway, in the summer of 1969, that follows what happens following a last-ditch attempt to strike oil”.
Approval rating: 81.82%, High Approval rating: 18.18%, Completion rate: 83.22%.

Stateless (Australia) (Netflix)
“Four strangers — a woman on the run, a brave refugee, a driven bureaucrat and a struggling dad — intersect at an Australian immigration detention center”.
Approval rating: 86.05%, High Approval rating: 62.79%, Completion rate: 90.70%.

Stockholm Requiem (Sthlm Rekviem) (Sweden) (Walter Presents)
“Criminal misdemeanours, violence and family dramas interweave in this Swedish psychological crime thriller based on Kristina Ohlsson’s best-selling novels”.
Approval rating: 77.60%, High Approval rating: 33.60%, Completion rate: 84.00%

Suburra: Blood on Rome – Season 3. (Italy) (Netflix)
“In 2008, a fight over land in a seaside town near Rome spirals into a deadly battle between organized crime, corrupt politicians and the Vatican”.
Approval rating: 97.06%, High Approval rating: 91.18%, Completion rate: 100%.

The Truth Will Out (Det som göms i snö) – Season 1. (Sweden) (Walter Presents)
“Swedish psychological crime thriller based on an idea from a leading criminologist. A troubled detective and his dysfunctional team gain powerful enemies when they reopen a famous case”.
Approval rating: 94.74%, High Approval rating: 19.74%, Completion rate: 94.74%.

The Twelve (De Twaalf) – Season 1. (Belgium) (Walter Presents)
“Intense and richly characterised Belgian courtroom drama about the jury on a sensational murder trial in Ghent”.
Approval rating: 94.68%, High Approval rating: 78.72%, Completion rate: 97.87%.

Unorthodox (Germany) (Netflix)
“A Hasidic Jewish woman in Brooklyn flees to Berlin from an arranged marriage and is taken in by a group of musicians — until her past comes calling”.
Approval rating: 96.00%, High Approval rating: 92.80%, Completion rate: 98.40%.


Borgen – Seasons 1 to 3. (Denmark) (Netflix)
“A shocking turn of events puts Birgitte Nyborg in the Danish prime minister’s seat as her country’s first female leader in this landmark drama”. Season 4 is coming to Netflix in 2022.
Approval rating: 94.17%, High Approval rating: 86.89%, Completion rate: 94.66%.

The Bridge (Bron/Broen) – Seasons 1 to 4. (Denmark/Sweden) (BBC Four/BBC iPlayer)
“A gruesome discovery on the Swedish-Danish border starts an intense, overwhelming investigation for detective Saga Noren”.
Approval rating: 98.12%, High Approval rating: 93.90%, Completion rate: 98.12%.

Spiral (Engrenages) – Seasons 1 to 7. (France) (BBC iPlayer)
“There’s no one idea of justice. Laure Berthaud and her team of detectives face the brutal world of organised crime, and none will remain unscathed”. Season 8 is coming to BBC Four from Saturday, 2 January.
Approval rating: 93.53%, High Approval rating: 88.36%, Completion rate: 94.40%.

Some notes on the numbers:

1) The Approval rating is calculated based on the number of people recommending the series compared to the number of people watching the series.

2) The High Approval rating is calculated based on the number of people giving the series a “Highly Recommended” rating compared to the number of people watching the series.

3) The Completion rate refers to the percentage of viewers starting the series who finished watching it.

4) “Have started watching and am enjoying it so far” votes are not included in the above calculations.

5) Polls are open for new votes so percentages may change. The calculations used here were based on numbers available between 3 and 10 December 2020.

6) For the purposes of this list only series receiving a certain number of overall votes were considered.


One thought on “27 of the Most Popular International TV Dramas of 2020.

  1. Fantastic site. I nearly crashed my car when I heard season 8.of Spiral was starting g….. As I spent Xmas watching all 76 eps on Iplayer. Thanks


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