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Watch TV in Portuguese with the Best Series and Shows

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Talk with anyone who’s learned a new language and they’ll tell you that music, TV shows, and books were a major help in improving their knowledge. So if you’re learning Portuguese, why not do the same?

You’re definitely lucky in that regard, especially when talking about TV shows, movies, and audiovisual productions. Brazil has a long tradition of good work in those areas, with dozens of telenovela Portuguese TV shows exported to hundreds of countries, and more recently, series that have gained respect worldwide.

So, there’s no need to search for Portuguese TV channels streams: We’ll bring some examples of the best Brazilian TV shows to learn Portuguese in this article. Thanks to streaming services, you can check them out and learn many valuable things. When you watch Portuguese TV, you’re also expanding your vocabulary, hearing common phrases, exposing yourself to colloquial language, and more. You’ll train your ears and brain, and Portuguese will become far more natural to you.

Try to watch the episodes without subtitles. If it’s too hard, go little by little: skip one phrase, see if you understood what was said, and go from there.

Without further ado, our list of the best TV shows in Portuguese for language-learners!

Table of Contents

  1. The Thorn and the Rose
  2. Jailers
  3. Magnifica 70
  4. It’s a Match
  5. Task Force
  6. Profession: Reporter
  7. 9mm: São Paulo
  8. Psi
  9. 1 Against All
  10. Aruanas
  11. Watch Your Way to Portuguese Mastery

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1. The Thorn and the Rose

Family Watching TV

What’s more Brazilian in TV than a novela? This genre of Portuguese TV shows started out much like the American soap operas in the 50s, but has gone through changes over the decades to become a bona-fide Brazilian export.

The Thorn and the Rose (O Cravo e a Rosa) is a classic novela, and offers a good experience for beginners to watch TV in Portuguese, and it’s available on the Globo Play streaming service. The language in the novelas is the most colloquial possible, since they’re the prime-time attraction in Brazil.

This humoristic production from 2000 is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. It depicts the joys and misunderstandings of a young couple, consisting of a rich, angry feminist and a rough but loving farmer at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The cast is full of TV stars (Eduardo Moscovis; Adriana Esteves) and the pronunciation ranges from very clear, urban idioms to rural, local-tinted versions of Portuguese. As in many Portuguese comedy TV shows, this novela is full of turnarounds and language play—which is a bonus for learners.

Quote:
Pois então, você vai dormir com as vacas porque esse aqui é meu quarto. É isso mesmo que você ouviu: vai dormir com as vacas. Se você quer dormir aqui no meu quarto, vai dormir sem travesseiro porque eu não sou bicho para ter cerca me separando… Bem que me disseram mesmo que não era para eu casar com a fera!

Translation:

“Well then, you’re going to sleep with the cows because this is my bedroom. That’s precisely what you’ve heard: you’re going to sleep with the cows. If you want to sleep in my bedroom, you’re going to sleep without a pillow because I’m no animal to have a fence separating me from you… And they have told me not to marry the beast!”

Vocabulary:

  • Vaca (Cow)
  • Bicho (Animal)
  • Casar-se (To marry)
  • Fera (Beast)


2. Jailers

Improve Listening

This series represents the effort that Globo channel (known worldwide for its novelas) is putting on productions for its streaming platform, Globo Play. Jailers (Carcereiros) is a Cannes-awarded series depicting the life of a state agent who deals daily with the intense and tragic realities of the incarcerated.

Jailers is based upon a non-fiction book by popular Brazilian author Drauzio Varella. To watch this Portuguese TV series is a good opportunity for learners to get more familiar with local slang, idiomatic expressions, and differences in speech between social classes in Brazil. The plot and dialogue are more complex than a novela’s.

Stories filled with tension and power play inside the jail, and are brought to life with the help of a robust cast of national stars (Rodrigo Lombardi; Leticia Sabatella;Toni Tornado) and a talented team of scriptwriters, such as author Marçal Aquino (Task Force; O Invasor)—which makes Jailers one of the best Portuguese TV shows you can feast your eyes on.

Quote:
Eu sou Vilma, diretora do presídio. Este é Adriano, carcereiro daqui. Bem-vindos à equipe. Convivência com preso não se aprende na academia, senhores. Isso, vocês vão aprender aqui no dia a dia. Você tem que ir para cima deles. A grande arma do agente penitenciário é a palavra: ela tem que ser mais forte que tiro de fuzil.

Translation:
“I am Vilma, the warden of the prison. This is Adriano, a jailer from here. Welcome to the team. You don’t learn to live with prisoners in the academy, gentlemen. This, you’ll have to learn here, daily. You have to go hard on them. The prison agent’s big weapon is the word: it has to be stronger than a rifle’s shot.”

Vocabulary:

  • Presídio (Prison)
  • Convivência (Living together; Intimacy)
  • Ir para cima deles (To go hard on them)
  • Penitenciário (Relative to prison)
  • Fuzil (Rifle)


3. Magnifica 70

With three seasons, Magnifica 70 (HBO) has a very original plot. It portrays a censor working for the government, who falls in love with an actress from a movie of the subversive pornochanchada genre—which mixes humor, eroticism, and not-so-profound narratives, and constituted a true national cinema industry.

Vicente, the censor, bans the movie, but is fascinated with the movie production and creativity of the work that comes out of an area called Boca do Lixo (Trash’s Mouth), in Sao Paulo. Magnifica 70 is available on HBOGO, which means it’s a Portuguese-spoken TV show with English subtitles.

Quote:
Você entra e banca o repórter. Daqui a uns quinze minutos, eu subo. É melhor ainda que ela me reconheça: ela se assusta e a gente dá uma ‘prensa’. Ela vai perceber que está tentando chantagear as pessoas erradas.

Translation:
“You enter and pretend you are a reporter. I’ll come up around fifteen minutes later. It’s even better that she recognizes us: she’ll be scared, so we can put pressure on her. She’ll notice that she’s trying to blackmail the wrong people.”

Vocabulary:

  • Bancar (To pretend)
  • Subir (To go up)
  • Chantagear (To blackmail)
  • Dar uma prensa (To put pressure on someone)


4. It’s a Match

Woman Laughing at TV

This original Globo Play production is a series about neurotic young adults struggling to adapt to the unspoken rules of a new world of fluid relations and interactions through social media. Sound familiar? It’s a Match (Shippados) may look like a poor man’s Master of None. But it’s much more than that: it’s a chance to take a glance at the Brazilian take on modern relations.

Brazilian TV darlings Eduardo Sterblitch and Tatá Werneck play the parts of the main characters, Enzo and Rita, a pair that tries to bond and eventually become a couple in this brave (and sometimes cold) new world.

It’s a Match is the last project of the famous late comedic screenwriter Fernanda Young (Os Normais; Aspones). You can expect lots of quick-paced irony and colloquial language from one of the top Portuguese TV shows.

Quote:
Moça, me perdoa, você pode fazer um favor para mim? A menina estava comigo aqui e foi ao banheiro e eu queria saber se ela está lá. Você poderia ver para mim? Não falei nada demais para ela, não, só que aconteceu isso outras vezes comigo e eu fico meio preocupado. Só que dessa vez, principalmente, porque ela tem 95% a ver comigo.

Translation:
“Lady, I beg your pardon: will you do me a favor? The girl who was seated here with me went to use the toilet and I’d like to know if she’s in there. Could you check it? I didn’t say anything absurd to her, no. I just get a little concerned, since it happened to me other times—only this time, mainly because she has 95% to do with me.”

Vocabulary:

  • Me perdoa (I beg your pardon)
  • Nada demais (Anything absurd)
  • Preocupado (Concerned)
  • Meio (A little)


5. Task Force

Women Hiding Her Face

It seems like the Brazilian audience likes crime and cop shows. And it’s true. Since the boom of Elite Squad, movie productions in that genre are common and Globo’s Task Force (Força Tarefa) is only one example.

The difference here is the focus, which changes from cops-versus-gangs and drug traffic to the investigations of the wrongdoings of Rio’s police and the challenges those officers have to face.

The advantage of this production is that the plot is very straightforward, so you understand what’s happening on the screen even if you miss some words. Shows like this can keep you motivated to continue to watch TV in Portuguese.

Quote:
Anunciar no jornal é que ele não vai, né? Sabe o que eu acho? Esse cara não vai vender essa arma no varejo. Porque é demorado e mais arriscado. Para mim, ele vai tentar vender tudo de uma vez só. Se eu souber de alguma coisa, te aviso. Vou ficar ligado!

Translation:
“He’s not going to announce it in the newspapers, is he? You know what I think? This guy will not sell this gun in the retail. Because it takes too long and is too risky. In my opinion, he will try to sell everything at one time. If I get to know something about it, I’ll let you know. I’ll stay tuned!”

Vocabulary:

  • Né? (Isn’t it?)
  • Cara (Guy)
  • Varejo (Retail)
  • Arriscado (Risky)


6. Profession: Reporter

The most efficient way to learn Portuguese with TV shows is to apprehend the mindset of the speakers. The national debates are a good way to understand local development, problems, and, most of all, people.

Watching the news can get pretty bleak, making Profession: Reporter’s (Profissão Repórter) approach to the journalistic report more attractive. Every episode brings a fresh team of young reporters, on- and off-camera, struggling to investigate in depth a hot national theme—from environmental to policial affairs, from Science and Arts to social themes.

Reporters from a land of continental dimensions (and sometimes in other Portuguese-speaking lands) expose the learner to different regional flavors of the language and to a myriad of cultural backgrounds. This is one of the best Brazilian TV shows to learn Portuguese, available on Globo Play for free.

Quote:
Esse é o Aglomerado da Serra, uma das maiores favelas do Brasil, com mais de 50 mil moradores. Existem vários projetos culturais na comunidade, entre eles o Lá da Favelinha. Aqui, jovens têm oficinas gratuitas de dança, moda, arte, idiomas e música. Jonathan Dance dá aula de passinho.

Translation:
“This is Aglomerado da Serra, one of the biggest slums in Brazil, with over 50-thousand dwellers. There are many cultural projects in the community, one of which is Lá da Favelinha. Young people here have access to free workshops of dance, fashion, arts, idioms, and music. Jonathan Dance teaches passinho.”

Vocabulary:

  • Moradores (Dwellers)
  • Favela (Slum)
  • Oficina (Workshop)
  • Moda (Fashion)
  • Dar aula (To teach)


7. 9mm: São Paulo

This FOX show is one of many about police forces in the act of duty, and is one of the best TV shows for learning Portuguese. This one focuses on Sao Paulo’s Police homicide department. The creator of the show, journalist Carlos Amorim, wrote an investigative book about the city’s main criminal organization, which is part of the theme.

With twenty episodes and three seasons, 9mm is more profound than just a cop show, and won’t hide the harsh reality of a violent city. This action series of forty-five-minute episodes promises great entertainment and will train your listening skills.

Quote:
Você acha que eu estou cansada? Então, você precisava ver quando a Dani teve catapora, ou quando ela quebrou a perna e eu tinha que fazer tudo para ela. Ou mesmo quando você ainda morava aqui, Alberto, e eu tinha que ir para a academia de polícia e deixar ela numa creche porque o pai dela tinha sumido.

Translation:
“Do you think I am tired? Then, you should have seen when Dani had chickenpox. Or when she broke her leg and I had to do everything for her. Or even when you used to live here, Alberto, and I had to go to the police academy and leave her in the day-care center because her father was missing.”

Vocabulary:

  • Sumir (To go missing; To disappear)
  • Cansada (Tired)
  • Catapora (Chickenpox)
  • Creche (Day-care center)


8. Psi

Man Eating Popcorn

Carlo is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who goes on his own to solve crimes in Sao Paulo using his knowledge of the human mind and behavior. The show was created by the eminent Italian-Brazilian psychiatrist Contardo Calligaris, who is a regular columnist for the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. Psi is really Calligaris’ brainchild, reflecting the wit of his writings, and very analytical.

As far as TV shows in Portuguese go, Psi presents a lot of interesting cultural information, especially from the city of Sao Paulo. The depiction of landscapes, architecture, and personalities is a main facet of the production, and lets the viewer get in touch with the routines, fears, and personalities of the characters.

From the idiomatic point of view, Psi will be helpful for learning different types of dialogue and conversation in daily life—formal and casual expressions, for instance. The analyst goes through many ambiences and situations, and talks to many types of people, in the four seasons of this series.

On top of all that, this HBO production was nominated for Best Drama at the International Emmys in 2018, yet another reason to watch one of the best Portuguese TV shows out there.

Quote:
Conselho de vida? Bom, eu aconselharia as leitoras a viverem a vida de tal forma que, quando chegar a hora da morte, elas possam olhar para trás e concluir que a vida delas foi uma boa corrida. Um conselho para a vida amorosa: seria bom pensar que o culpado dos nossos fracassos e da nossa mediocridade somos nós mesmos—muito raramente os nossos parceiros.

Translation:
“An advice for life? Well, I’d recommend the readers to live life so that when death arrives, they can look behind and conclude that their life was a good run. An advice for the love life: it would be good to think that we are the ones to blame for our failures and our mediocrity—and very rarely our partners.”

Vocabulary:

  • Conselho (Advice)
  • De tal forma que (So that)
  • Vida amorosa (Love life)


9. 1 Against All

This FOX production went against Money Heist at the International Emmys. And it wouldn’t be absurd if it had won. The main character of 1 Against All (1 Contra Todos), Cadu, loses his job and is wrongfully convicted of drug trafficking in a town close to Sao Paulo.

Convicted, he has to assume a different persona to survive and prove his innocence. This is one of the best TV shows to learn Portuguese if you want to pick up some angry phrases and even curse words!

Quote:
Um cara assim, a gente nunca viu. Nem eu, nem você, talvez nem a polícia. É um criminoso diferente. Não é desses pés de chinelo que a gente está acostumado a ver todo dia. É o maioral. É o mandarim. É o chefe dos chefes. O Doutor do Tráfico. Vou repetir: o maior traficante do Brasil. E vamos mostrar a cara desse vagabundo, desse salafrário, desse sacripanta.

Translation:
“We have never seen a guy like this. Not me, nor you, and perhaps not even the police. He is a different type of criminal. It’s not one of these lowlifes we see everyday. He’s the big shot. The mandarin. The don of the dons. He’s Doctor Pusher. Come again: Brazil’s biggest drug peddler. And we’ll show the face of this tramp, this swindler, this crook.”

Vocabulary:

  • Pé de chinelo (Lowlife)
  • Maioral (Big shot”
  • Sacripanta (Crook)
  • Salafrário (Swindler)


10. Aruanas

Women Watching TV

Jaw-dropping landscapes and a dream team of Brazilian actresses are the core of this investigative Portuguese TV series available on Globo Play.

Taís Araujo, Leandra Leal, and Deborah Falabella, are the leaders of the NGO Aruana, for the preservation of the Amazon forest. Eventually, the three get in touch with news of water contamination of a local population and get to work. But they will have to face a wave of crimes and impunity when going against the interests of a millionaire’s mining enterprise.

Aruanas is a TV series full of action, politics, and environmental matters, but it’s also a great opportunity to get in touch with dialects of Portuguese and regional data that not even many Brazilians know.

Quote:
Hoje no Entre Pontos eu entrevisto o mediador de conflitos Caio Martins. Caio, eu sou uma profunda admiradora do seu trabalho e queria aproveitar a ocasião para falar um pouquinho sobre o Brasil: como você faria a mediação de conflito entre índios, fazendeiros e grileiros quando todos alegam ter direito ao mesmo pedaço de terra?

Translation:
“Today on Entre Pontos I’ll interview the conflicts mediator Caio Martins. Caio, I’m a fond admirer of your work and would like to use this occasion to talk something about Brazil: how would you mediate the conflict between Indians, farmers, and leaseholders, when all of them allege to have rights over the same piece of land?”

Vocabulary:

  • Admiradora (Admirer)
  • Entrevistar (To interview)
  • Grileiro (Leaseholder)


11. Watch Your Way to Portuguese Mastery

These fantastic TV shows to learn Portuguese will help you improve your vocabulary, learn valuable lessons, expand your knowledge on cultural matters, and make your Portuguese sound more natural. Don’t worry if you don’t pick up much in the first few episodes; it’s a piece-by-piece job. We at PortuguesePod101.com are here to help you learn Portuguese in a simple and fun way!

Before you go, let us know in the comments which of these Portuguese TV series you’re most excited to watch, and why! Did we miss any good ones on our list?

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