Best Russian TV Shows for Language Learners

An image from the Russian TV show,
A scene from Давай Поженимся! (Let's Get Married!).

YouTube

Russian TV shows offer endless opportunities for language learning. With every episode you watch, you'll enhance your listening skills, learn more about Russian culture, and discover how vocabulary words are used in real-world scenarios. 

When you start watching a show, don't worry about understanding every single word. You will pick up the storyline naturally through a combination of visual and auditory cues. New words will be absorbed into your vocabulary as the episodes progress. If you're looking to speed up the learning process, log at least 5 new words you learn in each episode, and review your vocabulary log regularly.

Although virtually any program will provide valuable language learning opportunities, the following Russian TV shows are ideal for language learners of all levels.

01
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Универ (Univer)

Courtesy of IMDb

Univer follows the life of Sasha, the son of a Russian oligarch, who has just abandoned his pursuit of a finance degree in London. He arrives at a Moscow university with a plan to study astronomy and refuse any financial help from his father. 

Univer is structured much like the U.S. show Friends: the main characters live together in a dormitory, and the humor is light-hearted and fun. The vocabulary is wide-ranging but not complicated, and the dialogue is not too fast, so Univer is perfect for beginner and intermediate learners. 

02
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Давай Поженимся! (Let's Get Married!)

Courtesy of IMDb

In each episode of Let's Get Married, a participant 'interviews’ three potential candidates for marriage. The participants weigh their options, professional matchmakers and astrologers give advice, and  best of all, plenty of hilariously bizarre situations ensue. Expect to see each candidate for love going all out to showcase their romantic potential, from reciting a poem to performing a peculiar Iron Maiden-themed dance routine to shaving their heads onstage.  

Let's Get Married! presents plenty of opportunities to hear and get accustomed to real-life Russian speech patterns, as well as to familiarize yourself with Russian popular culture.

03
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Домашняя Кухня (Home Kitchen)

Home Kitchen is a cooking show hosted by Lara Katsova. Dubbed the "Susan Boyle" of the Russian cooking world, Katsova was "discovered" for her cooking prowess at age 47 after never before cooking professionally. The format of the show is relaxed and funny, with celebrity guests cooking and chatting alongside Katsova.

Home Kitchen is useful for language learners because of the unpredictable conversation and the abundance of hilarious idioms, which Katsova is known for. 

04
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Битва Экстрасенсов (Battle of the Psychics)

Battle of the Psychics is a show about the most famous Russian-speaking psychics, mediums, witches and healers, who compete to solve a new mystery in every episode. You'll pick up lots of new words while being thoroughly entertained—but it's best not to watch alone on a dark night. 

05
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Anna Karenina

TV show poster

Courtesy of IMDb

A spin-off from the acclaimed Tolstoy novel, the 2017 show Anna Karenina takes place thirty years after the titular character's death. The show begins with Karenina's now-adult son, a military hospital doctor in the Russian-Japanese war, operating on wounded count Alexei Vronsky and discovering that his mother is actually still alive.

If you enjoy Russian literature and period dramas, you'll love Anna Karenina, which is filled with classical vocabulary and compelling plotlines.

06
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вДудь (vDud)

 Courtesy of Youtube

vDud is technically not a TV show — it's a YouTube channel — but it operates in TV interview format. Produced and presented by Yury Dud, vDud gives viewers a window into Russian current affairs, culture, music, art, and politics. Interview subjects are diverse, so you'll hear a wide array of accents and manners of speech. Each interview lasts between 40 and 90 minutes.  

The interviews are often controversial, garnering lots of comments and opinionated responses in the news and on social media. For added language learning, look up a few follow-up articles after watching an episode.