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If “learn Portuguese and travel to Brazil” is on your bucket list, one fun, and easy way to quickly accomplish this goal is to watch Brazilian TV shows.
Most language learning experts will tell you that the quickest and most effective way to gain fluency in any language is to surround yourself with people who speak that language. The idea here is, by immersing yourself in the language, you are “forced” to pick it up quicker.
If you can’t travel to a place where Portuguese is commonly spoken, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Portuguese is to watch TV shows and movies that are from Portuguese-speaking areas.
If you are going to be traveling to Brazil for work or pleasure, one way to learn Portuguese before your trip is to watch Brazilian TV shows.
Watching Brazilian TV shows, whatever the genre, is a good way to familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of Brazilian Portuguese.
There are two major variants of Portuguese, European and Brazilian. They are actually very similar and a European Portuguese speaker will easily understand what a Brazilian Portuguese speaker is saying and vice versa. There are, however, slight differences in how a Brazilian Portuguese speaker will pronounce certain words that might cause momentary confusion.
There are also some Portuguese phrases that are more commonly used by Brazilian Portuguese speakers and some idioms and expressions that are only used by Brazilian Portuguese speakers.
Basically, the difference between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese is something that is easier to pinpoint if you hear it and, watching Brazilian TV shows is one of the best ways to pick up on these differences.
Brazilian TV shows are also fun! You can get a feel for Brazilian humor and an appreciation for their sense of drama by watching Brazilian TV series. You can also gain some insight into Brazilian culture from seeing how the characters treat friends and family as well as their rivals in love and business.
The following are ten good Brazilian TV shows to find and watch in order to improve your Portuguese and have fun in the process.
This sci-fi dystopian thriller is the first Netflix original series that is in Portuguese. The first season was made available on the streaming platform in 2016 and it concluded at four seasons in 2020.
The series was set in the future, where a group of 20-year-olds who were born and raised in the impoverished section of society known as the “Inland” is given the opportunity to compete to improve their lives and advance to the affluent portion of society known as the “Offshore”.
The lucky individuals who pass the tests and survive are known as the 3%.
This is a great example of a modern telenovela. Heavy on the melodrama, it had almost all of Brazil tuned in during its run.
The series chronicles the life of Rita, who lost her mother and was raised by her father and her (of course) cruel stepmother. The drama in Rita’s life just ramps up when she catches her stepmother having an affair. Before she can tell her father of his wife’s treachery, he gets run over by a car and perishes.
Rita’s stepmother then abandons the poor girl in a dumpsite where she grows up among the homeless scavengers. Vowing revenge, a grownup Rita disguises herself and gets hired into her stepmother’s new household as a cook.
This is one of several popular Brazilian TV shows produced by HBO Latin America and is said by some to be a Brazilian version of their American series “Sex and the City”.
Instead of following a group of female friends living in New York City, Alice follows Alice, a young woman who moves from the small city of Palmas to the bigger and more cosmopolitan São Paulo.
What was originally supposed to be a short trip for Alice to get her inheritance from her father turns to an extended stay as she is dazzled by the exciting and colorful lifestyle that São Paulo promises.
The series follows Alice as she tries to navigate her new world and make new friends as well as, of course, looks for a lasting romance.
A family drama set in Rio de Janeiro in the lead up to one of the most anticipated events of the year, Carnival.
Gebara family patriarch, Anesio, is busy running both a samba school and an illegal lottery business. In his old age, however, he’s starting to think about retiring and what his legacy will be in the end. He’s both helped and hindered in his decision by his four sons with whom he has a strained relationship and who have strained relationships amongst themselves.
This is a pretty good show to not just get some idea about how family and family ties work in Brazil as well as some nice glimpses into the “world-famous” Carnival with non-touristy eyes. Also, samba dancing!
This is another one of those Brazilian TV shows that were produced and released by Netflix. It is a comedy that follows the life of Samantha, a former child star who had a hit TV series.
Though Samantha had incredible success at a young age, her career began to flounder as she aged. Not and as the series begins, she’s scheming to revive it while also raising her children.
This is a great example of Brazilian TV shows that deal with crime and corruption. The titular character Mandrake, is a slightly shady criminal defense lawyer based in Rio de Janeiro.
Mandrake’s clients are usually celebrities and other wealthy city elite and the cases often involve drugs and alcohol as well as sex, so it’s probably best not to watch this when there are children around.
Another Brazilian TV show produced by HBO Latin America, this series follows the life and career of football referee Juares Gomez.
Football (or soccer if you must) is serious business in Brazil and referees, with their ability to call penalties and goals, have the tricky task of balancing doing their jobs without pissing off rabid fans.
Gomez doesn’t just have a difficult “job” but his personal life is in shambles as well as he is divorced and fighting for custody of his son.
The title of this Brazilian TV show translates to “City of Men” and it’s based on the acclaimed 2002 movie “City of God” or “Cidade de Deus”. Loosely based on real-life events, the series and the movie focus on the growth of gangs and organized crime in a Rio de Janerio favela and the effect they have on the youth.
The TV show, which can be classified as a dark dramedy, follows the lives of childhood friends Acerola and Laranjinha who grow up in a favela that is both menaced and protected by drug traffickers. There are four seasons of this series which ran from 2002 to 2005.
There’s also a miniseries, set 10 years after the events in the original series, which follows the sons of the first series protagonists.
Another Brazilian TV show from Netflix, this is a fast-paced political drama that is now on its second season.
The show’s protagonists are part of a police task force called Operação Lava Jato that is investigating corruption in the Brazilian government. The show follows their investigations and shows not only how widespread corruption and collusion between government officials and companies but the toll investigating these matters has on the investigators’ lives.
This drama-thriller from Netflix imagines a Brazil where the Zika virus has mutated and gotten out of control. The protagonists, three doctors, have traveled to a remote village where they are attempting to implement a vaccination program. They find not only do the villagers not want the vaccination, but they might not need to as the village is home to “The Chosen One”.
Watching TV shows and movies in Portuguese is a great way to immerse yourself in the language and familiarize yourself with how native speakers actually converse.
If you want to learn Brazilian Portuguese, it is important that you work with an online native Brazilian Portuguese speaking tutor. As we mentioned, there are slight differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese that you would do well to familiarize yourself with.
We suggest that you discuss this list of Brazilian TV shows with your tutor. You can incorporate what you watch with your lessons. For example, you can practice holding conversations with your tutor by discussing the episode you just finished watching.
Talking about Brazilian TV shows with your tutor can also help you get more out of the show than if you just watched it on your own. For example, your tutor can help explain any slang or swear words that you heard and advise you on when it is appropriate to use them.
Your tutor can also help explain any plot points that you didn’t understand and flesh out any character motivations that seem puzzling to you. This will help you not only comprehend what is happening on the show but also give you some insight into how Brazilian culture works and how the Brazilian people think.
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