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LEARNING GERMAN

8 TV shows you should watch to learn about Austrian culture

If you want to learn about Austrian culture, forget the classroom - the television is where the true lessons are learned. Here are eight shows you should watch to learn about Austrian culture.

What better way to learn about Austria than through these programs? Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash
What better way to learn about Austria than through these programs? Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

You’re immensely curious about Austrian culture, but you’re also looking for that next bingeable series to curl up to on the couch. 

Whether you’re a local newcomer wanting to experience classic Austrian television or a global citizen just hoping to learn something new, look no further. 

One of these shows is bound to capture your intrigue—and you might even learn some German along the way.

What the Austrian locals are watching

Here are some quintessential shows for viewers with some German under their belt.

1. Schnell ermittelt: classic Austrian “Krimi”

No list of Austrian television would be complete without at least one “Krimi”, which is an entire genre of books, films and shows that revolve around fictional crime stories, solved over the course of the plot.

Schnell ermittelt, German for “quickly investigated,” follows chief inspector Angelika Schnell of the Vienna homicide department as she and her team solve murder mysteries with often unconventional methods.

Full of laughs and thrills, this sixty-episode series was described by Austrian newspaper Der Standard as “CSI in good Viennese dialect.”

COMPARE: Which is Austria’s best streaming service?

2. Vorstadtwieber: comedy-drama set in posh Vienna

One of the most successful shows on Austrian television, Vorstadtweiber (“Suburban Women”) has just finished airing its sixth and final season.

Modelled after the US’ Desperate Housewives, this drama-packed satire of upper-class Austria leads viewers behind the shiny facade of Vienna’s suburban elite to the web of secrets, corruption, and lies surrounding five women bent on orchestrating their own financial liberation.

3. Braunschlag: bleak comedy in rural Austria

Out of the big city and into the fictional Lower Austrian village of “Braunschlag,” this critically acclaimed series from 2012 will give you a deeper understanding of Austria’s varying regions and dialects while you laugh along to its absurdist humour.

In order to bring an influx of business to his bankrupt town, the mayor of Braunschlag fakes a supernatural apparition of the Virgin Mary, but the lie runs quickly out of hand, devolving into a crazed cascade of sarcasm and greed that culminates in just eight episodes.

Multicultural understanding

For Austrian residents interested in ethnicity and human rights, consider this weekly update geared toward the country’s cultures in the minority.

READ MORE: 11 maps that help you understand Austria today

4. Heimat, fremde Heimat: weekly inclusion “magazine”

The odd one out on our list, Heimat, fremde Heimat (“Homeland, foreign homeland”) isn’t a bingeworthy serial, but rather an informative weekly TV program focused on minority and immigrant groups in Austria.

In production since 1989, the show covers such topics as human rights, ethnic issues, cultural diversity and coexistence in German and several other languages.

Viewers watching the broadcast on television will have access to subtitles on the ORF Teletext Deaf Service.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

An English-friendly look at Austrian culture

For anyone who wants to get a glimpse without being tossed into the deep end of a new language, these shows offer an English language option.

Austrian clichés: How true are these ten stereotypes?

5. Vienna Blood: period crime drama

Set in 1900s Vienna but produced completely in English, this series depicts a rich, fictionalised Austrian past that goes down easy for English-speakers—if they can handle the psychological twists and turns of a thrilling crime-solver.

Currently in its third season, Vienna Blood follows medical student Max Liebermann and detective Oskar Rheinhardt as they investigate harrowing murders in famous Viennese locales, including the state opera house, the natural history museum, traditional cafés and Burggarten Park.

6. Kitz: teen soap-opera set in a ski resort town

In a contemporary narrative aimed at international youth, this 2021 teen soap shines for its exaggerated drama and picturesque Austrian landscapes, and if that’s all you’re looking for, stop here.

Set in the Tyrolean ski resort town of Kitzbühel, the story centres around nineteen-year-old waiter Lisi Madlmeyer and the gilded Munich vacationers who come for a visit.

With a range of language dubs and subtitles, this show provides a look into Austria’s ski resort tradition, even if the accents and local flavour don’t quite match up.

Cash and Schnapps: A guide to visiting pubs and cafes in Austria

7. Freud: fictionalised period thriller

If it isn’t clear by now, Austrians love to watch a criminal mystery unfold on television. In this dark 2020 crime series, famed Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud is reimagined as a drugged-up Viennese Sherlock Holmes whose only path to solving a warped criminal conspiracy is through the use of his psychoanalytic prowess.

Available with English subtitles, Freud is a macabre trip through 1880s Vienna, with a fair share of visions, nightmares and bare skin.

8. The Empress: historical drama (Coming in 2022)

Viewers looking for a more accurate depiction of Austrian history on television will have to wait—but not for long.

Slotted for a 2022 spring release and rumoured to be Austria’s answer to the UK’s international hit The Crown, The Empress (working title) is set to depict the early days of one of Austria’s most celebrated figures: Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, or “Sisi,” as she is called, alongside her husband-to-be, Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I. If the title and news release are any indication, the show will likely offer an English-language option.

So turn on the TV, settle in and get ready to learn about Austrian culture the easy way—and if we missed a show that gave you a better understanding of Austria, leave us a comment below.

Member comments

  1. Fans of Braunschlag will also like Boesterreich – which is like a darker Austrian equivalent of Little Britain.

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung

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