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8 Austrian TV series to watch to improve your (Austrian) German

Amy Brooke
Amy Brooke - [email protected] • 12 Jan, 2023 Updated Thu 12 Jan 2023 16:44 CEST
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The educational Austrian TV shows you won't want to switch off. (Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash)

To celebrate Netflix's long-awaited German-language biopic on Empress Elizabeth of Austria, Sisi, we've rounded up some other very watchable Austrian TV series that showcase Austrian dialects.

But first, The Empress. This period drama is rumoured to be Austria's answer to UK hit The Crown.

It tells the story of the impossibly glamorous Austrian-Hungarian empress – better known as Sisi – whose life entranced the public.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wJeX1lI-HU

The first season can already be streamed and a second one has been confirmed, but if you can't wait, try these other Austrian TV series on for size and get a feel for Austria's different dialects – and its stunning scenery.

We've put together a real mixed bag, with some cult golden oldies, as well as some new hits doing the rounds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek29qCpbo5E

Vier Frauen und ein Todesfall (Four Women and a Fatality)
This Austrian crime-comedy series centres on four friends living in an idyllic mountain village. But it's not quite so idyllic as it seems because people keep on dying. And the four titular heroines – and self-styled hobby detectives – always suspect a crime and are immediately on the scene to solve it with their unorthodox methods.

Look out for the classic line that accompanies every suspicious death: "I glaub’ ned, dass des a Unfoi woar!" (I don't think that that was an accident). Humour runs through the show – there's lots of witty dialogue and puns – and it does a great job of showcasing Austria's beautiful landscapes. 

Watch it on ORF 1.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8ce6qq

Ein echter Wiener geht nicht unter (A true Viennese person never gives up)
If you want to get yourself accustomed to heavy Viennese dialect, this comedy is a great cult watch. Set in a working-class estate in Vienna, it revolves around the Sackbauer family, especially the rather shouty head of the household Edmund 'Mundl' Sackbauer, and how they deal (or don't) with the chaos of life at that time (it ran from 1975 – 1979), It became a must-see show, even for its detractors, and its popularity led to two movie spin-offs about the Sackbauer family.

Watch it on Daily Motion

Kommissar Rex
Austria has a serious predilection for Krimis or crime stories, so there are a lot to choose from, but we love this 90s Turner and Hooch-esque spin on the genre. Rex, a ridiculously clever German Shepherd police dog is the star of the crime-comedy, helping his partners and the Vienna murder squad to solve crimes.

The early seasons are all set in Austria, so expect lots of Austrian dialect, but filming moved to Italy in 2008.

Watch it on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVHtGUmeWE8

Altes Geld (Old Money)
David Schalko's 2015 dark satire revolves around a dysfunctional Viennese family with pots of money. Although the eight-episode series is set in Vienna, the lead role of the patriarch, Ralf Rauchensteiner, is played by German heavyweight Udo Kier.

He's going to die if he doesn't get a new liver sharpish and as he's going to leave all his money to whoever finds him one, the race is, quite literally, on. It's essentially "Dallas for psychos", according to its creator.

Austrian actor Gert Voss was intended for the part of Rauchensteiner, but he died suddenly. The other leads are all Austrian, though, and, like Voss, are alumni of Vienna's renowned Burgtheater.

Watch it on Prime

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa3CurlXuvM

Der Pass (The Pass)
Another day, another Krimi, but here, the police are dealing with a serial killer who styles himself as a demon and is paying back society for all its evils by eliminating people. As you do. This 2019 Austrian-German Sky production was inspired by Danish-Swedish hit The Bridge although it's a completely new story.  

It's a dark, gripping watch and it's a winner from a linguistic perspective, too: it teams up a sensible German police officer with a cynical Austrian one, and is a nice contrast of the differences between the German spoken in the two countries. 

Watch it on Sky

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-NsQlYbQr0

Soko Donau (Vienna Crime Squad)
Guess what, it's another crime series! Soko stands for Sonderkommission, and the special investigation team in question here is part of Vienna's water police. The long-running seres is a great immersion course in the dialects and cheeky charm of Vienna.

Watch it on YouTube/Prime

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWshS_IJXsw

Tatort (Crime Scene)
This long-running wildly popular crime series (yes, another one) started out in West Germany in the 70s. Since then, it's expanded into a cross-country production between Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with episodes moving around different locations. The Austrian episodes are well worth digging out. Chief inspector Eisner has been solving crimes around the country – Vienna, Innsbruck, Linz, the Tirol, Carinthia and Styria – since 1999 and he's often joined by his alcohol-dependent sidekick Bibi Fellner.

Watch it on ORF or ARD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufa23kftvEY

Bergdoktor (Mountain Medic)
Moving away from crime, this light-hearted medical drama is filmed in the village of Elmau in the gorgeous Wilder Kaiser region. It centres on the professional and personal trials and tribulations of Dr Martin Gruber who gives up a surgical post in New York to take over a GP practice in the Tyrolean mountains.

The gentle, family-friendly show (think a schmaltzier Doc Martin – the TV soundtrack is Take That's 'Patience', after all) might not win any Oscars any time soon, but it's a nice easy watch and a great way to explore Austria's Alpine villages without leaving the sofa – the locations are spectacular.

Plus, despite being set in the mountains, the roles are played by a mix of German and Austrian actors, so whilst it may be less authentic, it's also less dialect-heavy than some other Austrian TV options. 

Watch it on ZDF

For more Austrian TV inspiration, have a look at this list of TV shows to watch to learn about Austrian culture.

Have we missed any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments!

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Amy Brooke 2023/01/12 16:44

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