From wild documentaries about the funk music scene to dystopian dramas that haunt us, there’s a ton of great Brazilian television that plays globally.
TV shows are one of the best ways to understand different cultures and the reality of countries all over the world. In addition to Japanese, Korean, and British shows, Netflix has been investing heavily in Brazilian productions that give international viewers a broad perspective of Brazilian culture, history, and also politics. From deep dives into Brazil’s complicated judicial system and panoramic views of the history and development of its music to more light-hearted reality TV, here are some Brazilian shows that you can binge-watch to get a perspective and a privileged view of Brazil.
For more recommendations, check out our list of the best movies and shows on Netflix.
Editor’s note: This article was updated May 2023 to include Lady Voyeur.
Good Morning, Verônica (2020-present)
Creator: Raphael Montes
Cast: Tainá Müller, Eduardo Moscovis, Camila Morgado, Antônio Grassi
Based on the novel of the same name by showrunner Raphael Montes and Ilana Casoy, this crime drama follows police clerk Verônica Torres (Tainá Müller) as she takes on a particularly harrowing investigation following the suicide of a young woman. It’s a compelling and unnerving story that tackles themes like domestic and sexual violence. With such a heavy subject and a fair share of pretty graphic scenes, the show isn’t an easy watch, but it’s certainly worthwhile. The characters are engaging from the get-go, whether you love them or hate them, and the performances are equally amazing. Müller, in particular, is great as the secretary turned detective crushed by the callousness of her male coworkers and the overall cruelty that surrounds her, and Antônio Grassi is a very special kind of hateful as police chief Wilson Carvala. – Elisa Guimarães
Lady Voyeur (2023)
Creator: Marcela Citterio
Cast: Débora Nascimento, Emanuelle Araújo, Nikolas Antunes
Lady Voyeur is a sexy psychological thriller that throws the audience one curveball after another. The series follows Miranda (Débora Nascimento), a master hacker who uses her skills to spy on the lives of anyone foolish enough to leave themselves vulnerable. But her favorite person to watch is her neighbor Cléo (Emanuelle Araújo). Unfortunately, when her favorite subject contacts her before disappearing, Miranda has to wade into the depths of a dangerous world of sex work, trafficking, and possibly murder. This series has a lot of style and isn’t afraid to lead into the more salacious elements of the story, which makes it such a fun and soapy adventure.
The Endless Night (2023)
Creator: Gustavo Lipsztein
Cast: Thelmo Fernandes, Paulo Gorgulho, Bianca Byington
In The Endless Night, creator Gustavo Lipsztein explores the horrific mystery behind a tragic event that took place in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, back in 2013. Dramatically told over the course of five episodes, The Endless Night graphically begins with the fire at Nightclub Kiss, unraveling the story of families searching for their loved ones before some parents must ultimately accept the heartbreaking reality of their children’s death. Based on a true story, The Endless Night investigates both the cause and outcome of the fire, including the years of struggles as families seek justice. – Yael Tygiel
Invisible City (2021-present)
Creator: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: Marco Pigossi, Alessandra Negrini, Julia Konrad
Built on a richly written foundation, Invisible City follows Eric (Marco Pigossi), a detective who, while investigating his wife’s death, discovers the secret underground world of mythological creatures. Invisible City explores fascinating Brazilian folklore, allowing this environmental police officer to shine a light on these mythic entities, like the death of a mysterious pink river dolphin whose unexplained appearance on the beach in Rio may be connected to his lost love. Invisible City uncovers a battle between our world and a shadow world, similar to Shadowhunters, and blends it with a mystery cop show like Grimm. – Yael Tygiel
Back to 15 (2022)
Created by: Janaina Tokitaka
Cast: Maisa Silva, Amanda Azevedo, Katie Anne Moy, Camila Queiroz
Based on Bruna Vieira’s book by the same, Back to 15 is 13 Going on 30 in reverse. The show centers around Anita (Camila Queiroz), a 30-year-old woman whose life is a bit of a hot mess. After logging onto an old photoblog, she finds herself transported back to her high school years, getting the chance to redo things from her past with the wisdom she’s gained since growing up. To make matters even more complicated, Anita realizes she can travel back and forth and soon finds out that changing the past has implications for the future, too. Back to 15 is a delightful, clever teen show that offers charming characters and a blast from the past. – Taylor Gates
Creator: Natalia Klein
Cast: Bruna Marquezine, Natalia Klein, Manu Gavassi
Maldivas could be described as part Desperate Housewives, with an exquisite cast of charismatic and beautiful women, part murder mystery series similar to Only Murders in the Building. Put that together, and you get Maldivas, a fresh new soapy dramedy series created by and starring the hilarious Natalia Klein. Maldivas follows the investigation of a death in an upscale condo community full of quirky characters, each one a suspect. Each episode entices with a new twist or clue in the investigation while surprising with uproarious comedy and intricately layered characters. –Yael Tygiel
The Mechanism (O Mecanismo) (2018-2019)
Created by: José Padilha and Elena Soarez
Cast: Selton Mello, Carol Abras, Enrique Díaz, Leonardo Medeiros, Antônio Saboia, Lee Taylor, Otto Jr, Osvaldo Mil.
The series, created by Elena Soarez (who also wrote all episodes) and José Padilha (Elite Squad), focuses on telling the story of the Car Wash operation, the biggest corruption probe in Brazil and very relevant politically as it is still unfolding. The series, like the Operation in itself, arouses passions — in Brazil, critics said the series’ biggest flaw was to explain everything in too much detail, but that made it a necessary resource so that the foreign public could understand the various nuances of the functioning of the Brazilian political and judicial system.
Selton Mello plays Police Chief Marcos Ruffo, and Verena Cardoni the Police Chief Caroline Abras, who are also the narrators of the series, who explain to the viewer the details of each character — all of them inspired in real characters involved in the operation, from president Lula da Silva (João Higino, played by Arthur Kohl) to Veja Magazine, (in the series called Leia Magazine). With elements of police investigation and a lot of action, the series will please fans of the genre, with a story that revolves around the fight against corruption.
Killer Ratings (Bandidos na TV) (2019)
Created by: Daniel Bogado
Daniel Bogado directs this seven-episode documentary telling the story of TV presenter and politician Wallace Souza, the so-called “defender of the public,” accused of ordering a series of murders to raise the popularity of his TV show Canal Livre. Souza presented a show whose genre is among the most popular in Brazil, showing the violent reality of Brazilian cities — the problem here is that he was also fabricating it.
Between 1996 and 2009, Canal Livre showcased often graphic violence completely uncensored, in Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas. Thanks to the show, Souza was so popular that he was elected a state congressman in 1998 and re-elected two more times, but ended up having his term revoked in 2009 after the police accused him of associating with drug traffickers to display the murder of rivals on his TV show. For true crime fans, this series is a must as it depicts how far someone is able to go for fame and success. It’s just a jaw-dropping story, even for Brazilians used to this kind of shows.
Go Anitta (Vai Anitta) (2018-2020)
Created by: Anitta
A documentary also mixing reality TV, Go Anitta has already guaranteed a second season that should go on air next year telling the story of Anitta, one of the most successful singers in Brazil today.
The documentary reveals the hectic backstage world of one of the greatest figures in today’s Brazilian funk scene, which is one of the most popular music genres on the radio and on the streets, although constantly criminalized, especially in the favelas. The seven episodes of the first season focuses on the singer’s shows, trips, and rehearsals as she goes through the process of consolidating her international career — with lots of music, dancing, and choreography that can enchant a public not familiar with the music genre.
Love Is Blind Brazil (2021-present)
Creator: Endemol Shine Brasil
Hosts: Camila Queiroz, Klebber Toledo
The first international version of the Netflix original reality show, Love Is Blind: Brazil is a strong contender for the title of best series in the franchise. Despite lacking an ultra-charismatic couple like Lauren and Cameron, from the first season of the American show, Love Is Blind Brazil makes up for it with some very detailed drama, a charming cast of supporting characters, and a pair of would-be lovebirds we can all root against. At the same time classier and more unhinged than its American counterpart, Love Is Blind Brazil is a great example of a reality show done right. Viewers are always in the know about what is going on between the contestants, even when the fighting takes place off-screen, and if someone is playing too much of a part and refusing to show their true colors, they will be called out sooner or later – sometimes by their own dad. It’s the perfect balance for those that get a kick out of minding other peoples’ business on TV, but just the healthy amount. – Elisa Guimarães
Created by: Guilherme Moraes Quintella, Felipe Braga, Kondzilla
Cast: Christian Malheiros, MC Jottapê Carvalho, Bruna Mascarenhas, Jefferson Silvério
If Go Anitta doesn’t do enough to introduce funk to the public, Sintonia will no doubt take care of that. Produced by Konrad Dantas, better known as Kondzilla, the owner of the largest record label and funk producer in Brazil and one of the largest music channels on YouTube, the series tells the story of 3 friends, Doni (MC Jottapê), Rita (Bruna Mascarenhas), and Nando (Christian Malheiros) trying to achieve success in the world of funk, but having to fight against various adversities — such as organized crime, poverty, violence and the church in a low-income community in São Paulo.
Sintonia presents funk and favela to the world, showing what many MCs and DJs have to face to achieve success. But the series is not only a drama, it also makes you laugh and has lots of music. MC Jottapê is also a real life funkeiro and here combines his career as an actor and a singer, showing a little of his own reality on the screens.
Girls from Ipanema (Coisa Mais Linda) (2019-present)
Created by: Heather Roth and Giuliano Cedroni
Cast: Maria Casadevall, Pathy Dejesus, Fernanda Vasconcellos, Mel Lisboa, Leandro Lima, Ícaro Silva
“The Girl from Ipanema” by Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, is probably one of the best known Brazilian songs internationally, and the series, which plays with the name of the song, takes place during the emergence of Bossa Nova, a musical style that blends Brazilian samba with American jazz, ensuring the viewer a spectacle for the ears.
But the series is much more than that. Maria Casadevall plays Maria Luiza “Malu” Carone, a young and wealthy woman from São Paulo who decided to move to Rio de Janeiro to open a restaurant with her husband. Upon arriving, she finds out he left her and fled with all of her money. The series focuses on Malu’s relationship with her new love, the singer Chico (Leandro Lima), and the crossing of her life with those of Adélia (Pathy Dejesus), a black woman and favela dweller who fights daily against racism, Lígia (Fernanda Vasconcellos), a singer repressed by her male chauvinist husband, and Thereza (Mel Lisboa), a journalist who fights for women’s rights in a 1959 Rio de Janeiro in full transformation and effervescence.
Music fans will not be disappointed with a series full of moments of relaxation, sensuality, and some tension (particularly in the second season), while the costumes are worthy of Hollywood, and the cinematography really transports us to a vintage Rio de Janeiro.
Created by: Felipe Braga
Cast: Emanuelle Araújo, Douglas Silva, Cauã Gonçalves, Sabrina Nonata
A comedy with dramatic tones, Samantha! tells the story of a former child star of the ’80s whose success has remained in the past, but who dedicates her life to try winning it back — no matter how. Celebrities whose fame disappears after adulthood are a common phenomenon and they miss being loved, having a faithful audience and often cannot adapt to a life different from the one they have known.
This is the case of Samantha (Emmanuelle Araújo), who is trying to rebuild her career with the help of her husband Dodói (Douglas Silva), a former soccer player who also doesn’t accept the end of his career but also just got out of jail after 10 years, and her two children. The series has the merit of presenting complex and layered characters through a sometimes exaggerated and even caricatured humour that, however, fully captures the essence of Brazil’s ’80s television. The two seasons of Samantha! also manage to make a point by criticizing the media that often creates disposable idols, and fans who forget that behind the character there is a real person.
The Circle Brazil (2020-present)
Creators: Studio Lambert, Motion Content Group
Host: Giovanna Ewbank
Released just a few months after The Circle US, The Circle Brazil has an interesting cast of characters that make the most out of the social media competition. The game is definitely on in the Brazilian version of the show, in which players favor strategic and tactical thinking over flash-friendships in order to become the final influencer and take home the prize. The Circle Brazil is a show for those that are into reality TV for the competitive aspect, and not just for the drama. However, that doesn’t mean there is no room for real connection and even some screen-transcendent romance. Though at first, some contestants aren’t as interesting as they could be, the cast’s almost daily renewal guarantees a constant stream of entertaining members, namely twins Lucas and Marcel (catfishing as Luma), and the sarcastic Rafael (catfishing as Ana). The ensemble is also incredibly diverse and offers a great insight into the different cultures from various parts of Brazil. — Elisa Guimarães
Created by: Pedro Aguilera
Cast: João Miguel, Bianca Comparato, Michel Gomes, Rodolfo Valente, Vaneza Oliveira, Rafael Lozano, Thais Lago
Imagine a dystopian futuristic society in which the planet has been devastated and when everyone turns 20 they have to go through a rigorous selection process with physical, psychological, and even moral tests — all to move to a region full of opportunities and the chance of a better life. There’s a catch: Only three percent of the population manages to get there.
But like every good dystopic series, a resistance movement called the “Cause” tries to subvert this unjust social order — a clear allegory of today’s class society where inequality is the source of countless and endless conflicts. 3%, which was Netflix’s first Brazilian production, has not been very successful in its country of origin, but has received great praise worldwide for its four seasons. The show was also highly praised for its diversity, with many women in relevant roles, Black and Asian cast members, and transgender roles — all contributing to a series dealing with issues ranging from homosexuality and polygamy to physical disability.
Nobody’s Looking (Ninguém tá olhando) (2019)
Created by: Daniel Rezende, Carolina Markowicz, Teodoro Poppovic
Cast: Victor Lamoglia, Júlia Rabello, Danilo de Moura, Kéfera Buchmann
Nobody’s Looking is a light comedy based on the 1998 movie City of Angels (which was in turn based on the 1987 film Wings of Desire). The show’s main focus is to debate how arbitrary orders can be, as well as the very functioning of our lives — how we are taught to obey without question and to carry out our work, even without knowing exactly why or who is behind the decisions.
Ulysses (Victor Lamoglia) is, alongside Greta (Julia Rabello) and Chun (Danilo de Moura), an angel whose function is to take care of humans, who are assigned to them on a daily scale. They cannot get attached, after all, they are there just to do their jobs.
An angel who has just been born, Ulisses (or Uli) questions the system and ends up falling in love with Miriam (Kéfera Buchmann, who before becoming an actress was a successful YouTuber), a woman he was supposed to protect, leading his angel friends to also break the rules. Believing that they will not suffer any consequences, the trio start to enjoy life — drinking, having sex, and doing drugs. But this act of rebellion, of course, will cost them a lot. Praised by the critics, the series unfortunately had only one season.
Reality Z (2020)
Created by: Claudio Torres and João Costa
Cast: Nina Hartmann, Ravel Andrade, Carla Ribas, Emílio de Melo, Guilherme Weber, Luellem de Castro, João Pedro Zappa, Hanna Romanazzi, Pierre Baitelli
Yet another series of zombies with the ever-present intention of making a critique of society, the way it is organised, of selfishness and of how we are destroying ourselves and the planet. The difference is that Reality Z, which was directly inspired by the British series Dead Set (created by Charlie Brooker, who also developed Black Mirror), is set in Rio de Janeiro, with a corrupt police and corrupt politicians, rampant racism, and a different social background from the original series.
The first half of the series — involving characters from a reality show that seems to be the last refuge against the zombie invasion — is completely different from the final part. This on the one hand takes us by surprise, but on the other, also turns out to be an easy way to achieve a change in tone of the series. However, the second part deserves to be highlighted, as there’s a noteworthy improvement in the script and performances.
Reality Z is a series that proposes to be a serious take of social ills but ends up making us laugh for its extreme caricatures and exaggerated performances. With excellent special effects and a lot of blood, the series is so-bad-it’s-good fun.
The Chosen One (O Escolhido) (2019-present)
Created by: Raphael Draccon and Carolina Munhóz
Cast: Paloma Bernardi, Pedro Caetano, Gutto Szuster, Renan Tenca, Mariano Mattos Martins, Alli Willow
Based on the Mexican series Niño Santo, the Brazilian version tells the story of three doctors, Lúcia Santeiro (Paloma Bernardi), Damião Almeida (Pedro Caetano) and Enzo Vergani (Gutto Szuster) who travel to a village in the Pantanal wetlands to vaccinate the inhabitants against a new mutation of the Zika virus. Once in the village, they end up trapped and notice that the villagers are devotees of a mysterious leader (Renan Tenca) who has the power to cure diseases.
The series captures the attention of the viewer trying to unravel the mysteries of the village of Aguazul, while also exploring current themes, like the Zika virus epidemic that has hit Brazil heavily in recent years, as well as the motif of religious and spiritual leaders who supposedly cure the sick, but are little more than cult leaders — in recent years several such leaders have been denounced and imprisoned for sexual abuse in the country. In addition, the Pantanal has made international headlines for the monstrous fires destroying one of the world’s greatest biodiversities.
Omniscient (Omnisciente) (2020-present)
Created by: Pedro Aguilera
Cast: Carla Salle, Sandra Corveloni, Jonathan Haagensen, Guilherme Prates, Luana Tanaka
From 3% creator Pedro Aguilera, Omniscient follows a popular line of dystopian futurism with a world watched over by drones and without any privacy (an ever-present theme in science fiction since Brave New World).
In the series, set in São Paulo, an omniscient artificial intelligence evaluates every attitude of the city’s inhabitants — and denounces their infractions. Everything seemed perfect in this virtually crime-free reality until Nina (Carla Salle), who works to program the artificial intelligence, finds her father murdered with a bullet in his heart. Because of a suspicious flaw in the system, nobody is denounced for the crime, which is ultimately reported as death by natural causes. Together with her brother Daniel (Guilherme Prates) and her friend Judite (Sandra Corveloni), Nina will discover more than just an innocent flaw.
The series has only six episodes and does resolve the mystery by the end, but there are some loose ends that could guide a possible second season.
Brotherhood (Irmandade) (2019-present)
Created by: Pedro Morelli
Cast: Naruna Costa, Seu Jorge, Hermila Guedes, Pedro Wagner, Lee Taylor
The series tells a visceral and reality-based story about the lives of prisoners and the criminal factions which rule their lives. Lawyer Cristina (Naruna Costa) discovers that her brother, Edson (the singer Seu Jorge, who is beginning to invest in his acting career and recently played the guerrilla fighter Carlos Marighella in the film Marighella), with whom she has had no contact for 20 years, commands a criminal faction called “Brotherhood” that reminds Brazilians of the origin of real criminal groups such as the PCC, the First Command of the Capital, with a strong presence in São Paulo.
The series innovates by telling the story of the criminous group through the eyes of Cristina and Darlene (Hermila Guedes), Edson’s wife, who is responsible for bringing the siblings back together. Cristina faces various ethical dilemmas and has her loyalty tested by the police as well as by her brother and the members of the Brotherhood.
Fun fact: The series was filmed in a deactivated section of a prison, but in the view of another section in full operation — the prisoners ended up acting as extras and interacting at a distance with the cast.