“Women are like cRussian dolls. Each time you think you’ve found the right one, you discover another.” - Russian Dolls (2005).
If you’re ready to immerse yourself in the best Russian culture, don’t expect remakes of High School Musical when you’re watching Russian television. It’s nothing like western cinema, for one, the humour is far from similar. You need to know that Russian cinema is very dynamic, but TV not so much. There was only one new series in 2019 against 15 new films.
You can discover the best Russian TV shows on Netflix and other streaming services, too.
In this article, we're going to look at some of the Russian TV shows with the best ratings, comedies that everybody will love. While these shows mightn't be starring your favourite actors or have the production value of primetime American TV shows produced by ABC, NBC, or CBS, this is some of the best TV shows from the other side of the Iron Curtain.
Masha and the Bear, the Classic Russian Cartoon
It’s true that at first glance, you’ll think this show is just for kids. However, for anyone wanting to learn how to speak Russian, Masha and the Bear is a great place to start. Each episode follows a typical aspect of Russian life, from celebrating the Russian Orthodox New Year or going back to school.
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Masha is a young girl who loves messing about and making the most of life and she also knows how to do tonnes of thing. Her bear friend protects her although he’s as wild as Masha. You could sort of think of this show as a Russian “Dora the Explorer”. Get ready to fall in love with the different characters!
With 75 episodes across 3 seasons, there’s plenty of content to sink your teeth into and practise your Russian. It’s also a useful source of everyday Russian expressions that anyone can watch.
There’s also the English version, but that won’t help your language skills!
Learn more about Russian music.
Interns, the Russian Equivalent of House
In the world of TV series, doctors are almost always respected figures. This isn’t the case in the Russian series “Interns” (интерны). The main character, Andrey Yevgenyevich Bykov, played by the Russian Orthodox priest Ivan Ivanovich Okhlobystin (he’s suspended his priestly duties temporarily), is the cynical head of a therapy department whose character will remind English-speaking viewers of either Dr. House from House or Dr Cox from Scrubs.
He is constantly plagued by his interns' ineptitude. It should be noted that in Russian, the word refers to a medical intern and not just any type of intern.
The sitcom was produced by NTV-Kino and covers the daily lives of medical interns preparing for their futures in medicine. These novices struggle with both their professional and personal lives. Between romantic relationships and squabbling at work, this far-fetched series is worth a watch.
The pilot first aired on March 31, 2010, and this comedic show ran for 4 seasons before it came to an end.
While this series is quite goofy at time, it does push the envelope as it breaks many Russian taboos about the medical practice. This is nothing like Grey’s Anatomy, which tells the stories of medical interns as they grow, but rather focuses on the funny aspects of the characters’ lives, like in Scrubs. While you probably won't be familiar with a single cast member, it's still a treat for anyone who likes comedy series.
Kitchen, Delicious Russian Comedy
The series Kitchen or Кухня in Russian is a comedy show and also one of the best series on Russian TV. With a likeable cast, there’s a reason it’s the “comedy of the year”.
In Russian, the term Кухня means both kitchen and cuisine.
This show covers the story of a Russian chef working in his French restaurant in Moscow. The twist comes when a young chef looking to conquer the world of cooking comes from his rural hometown to work in the restaurant. Let’s just say that not everything goes to plan...
This is an easy-to-watch TV series. The actions on screen are enough to make you laugh and you won’t need to be a master of Russian to get what’s going on. There are also six seasons to get stuck into.
Dostoevsky, Historic Russian Miniseries
The miniseries Dostoevsky (Достоевский) is a scripted drama that covers the life of the historical figure himself over the course of 8 hour-long episodes. Yevgeny Vitalevich Mironov plays the nationalist and tsarist character.
The show covers the life of Fyodor Dostoevsky in the 1950s in Russia as the emblematic writer is on the tipping point and the moments in his life that inspired him to create “The Brothers Karamazov”.
It’s a good series if you like biopics. While it’s quite a short series with just 8 episodes and you won’t really into every aspect of the writer’s life, it does offer a good look into Russia at the time.
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Fizruk, an Unmissable Russian Sitcom
Fizruk is considered to be one of the most popular series for Russian teenagers and has a good mix of situation comedy and non-sequitur comedy. The show has been said to “bring all of Russia together each episode”. You’ve got to give it a go!
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In Fizruk, a gangster is trying to get close to his former boss. To do this, he’s become a PE teacher in a secondary school. While the plot is pretty predictable in some episodes, in others you’ll never see what’s coming.
This series is Russian through and through. This is also a really accessible series. It’s funny and original and everyone (Russian or otherwise), will enjoy it.
Nasha Russia, Little Russia
If you want a good laugh or learn about Russian life, there are few shows better than Nasha Russia (Наша Russia), which means “Our Russia”. Despite the patriotic title, comedy is at the heart of this show, which was based on Little Britain.
It might be worth watching this series with English subtitles at first as there are a lot of subtleties. There were 96 episodes made between 2006 and 2011 that covered various aspects of life in Russia. They covered society (communism, socialism, relations with the Caucuses), the economy (the value of the Ruble), international relations (foreign policy, etc.), culture, sports, etc.
Even the Russian president is the butt of jokes! In fact, there are recurring jokes that target Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, too.
While you’ll need a good level of Russian to enjoy it, it’s well worth watching, especially if you want to learn more about Russian culture.
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The Americans, an American Series about Relations with Russia
This American TV show has been popular since coming out in 2013. There are no heroes or murderers in this show, just a couple of KGB agents deep undercover in the US in the 1980s. The show takes place in the heat of the Cold War and lasted for six seasons.
Right from the first episode, the tone is set.
Are you ready to learn more about Soviet and American espionage?
This is one of the best recent American series.
From Saint Petersburg to Siberia, you can travel around Russian culture thanks to these series. Of course, these aren’t the only Russian series about!
Since Russian culture is a world apart from our own, you won't find comedies like Seinfeld or Everybody Loves Raymond or anything you'd find on American television shows. Of course, there's always a new show to discover and you can always watch Russian comedians, Russian dubs of other shows like the Simpsons, for example.
Did you know that there's a Russian version of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?
If you're interested in learning how to speak Russian, you should consider getting the help of a private tutor. Unfortunately, Russian isn't widely taught in British schools. However, thanks to private tutors, anyone in the UK can learn Russian.
With Superprof, there are three main types of tutorials on offer: one on one private tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. One on one tutorials cost the most but also offer the best service. Online tutorials are cheaper since the tutor has fewer expenses. Finally, group tutorials are the cheapest as the cost is divided between the students but you can't expect the bespoke service you'll get in private tutorials.
If you speak Russian, it's very easy to set up a profile and start offering private tutorials on the platform. Many tutors offer the first hour of tutoring for free to entice potential students to their lessons.