Berlin plays a leading role in numerous series: Christiane F., The Queen's Gambit, Babylon Berlin, Beat, Dogs of Berlin and You are Wanted are among the top productions of the streaming providers. In addition to the Berlin underground, historical plots are another big topic, for example in Charité or Hotel Adlon. Many US productions also choose Berlin as the setting for exciting thrillers.
To relax your overstrained nerves, we recommend classics like Liebling Kreuzberg or Gute Zeiten Schlechte Zeiten. And, of course, we also have a few tips, so you can explore the setting and plots in today's Berlin!
Tip 1: Christiane F. "We kids from Bahnhof Zoo"
More than 40 years after the book was published, "Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" is now also launching as a streaming series. Unlike the 1981 film, the story of 16-year-old Christiane F. is told in easily consumable colorful images. It seems a bit - at least the trailer - like a stylized time travel back to the club and drug series of the 80s. The eight episodes of the first season run from 19 February on the streaming portal of Amazon.
Tip 2: The Queen's Gambit
Although Berlin does not play the main role in the series about chess prodigy Beth Harmon, numerous scenes of the Netflix series were actually filmed in Berlin. The department store Ben Snyder's, where Beth goes shopping with her adoptive mother, is actually Humana at Frankfurter Tor. Beth plays her first major chess competition, which in the film takes place at Henry Clay High School in Kentucky, at the Max Taut School in Berlin-Rummelsburg. Beth's trips to Mexico, Russia and Paris were also unceremoniously relocated to Berlin. For example, the café-restaurant in Paris is in the Bode Museum, the facade of the Moscow hotel is in Karl-Marx-Allee, and the scenes for the Aztec Palace hotel in Mexico were shot in the foyer of the Friedrichstadt-Palast. By the way, the orphanage where Beth is placed after the death of her mother is located in Brandenburg, namely Schulzendorf Castle. And if you want to travel even further, for example to the Mariposa Hotel in Las Vegas, the venue for the U.S. Open in episode 3 of the series, you simply have to go to the Palais am Funkturm.
By the way: Berlin has been nominated for the European Location Award 2021 for The Queen's Gambit - the only German location to enter the race for the prize. The result will be announced at the Berlinale.
On the website eufcn.com you can vote to make Berlin the best film location and maybe even win a trip to Berlin, because among all those who voted, a 2-day trip to the winning location will be raffled.
Tip 3: Babylon Berlin
The first two seasons of the series cost 40 million euros. But the success of the film adaption of Volker Kutscher's historical thriller "Der nasse Fisch" shows that it was worth it. Babylon Berlin has been sold to more than 90 countries and has been awarded the German Television Prize and the Grimme Prize, among others. The third season of the story about detective commissioner Gereon Roth and the courageous Charlotte Ritter is out now. This time the death of a famous actress must be solved. Was it murder?
Tip 4: Unorthodox
Unorthodox is based on the autobiography of the same name by the author Deborah Feldmann, who now lives in Berlin. It is a story about departure and breakout and tells how Feldmann manages to break the shackles of the strict Jewish Orthodox religious community in which she grows up. And finds a new home in Berlin. Symbolically for the new found freedom, she drops her wig in the water here during a bath in the Wannsee. Traditionally, Hasidic women are no longer allowed to show their hair after sexual maturity. An unvarnished and honest insight, both into Feldmann's life and into the rules and traditions of the Jewish Orthodox community in Brooklyn, New York. At the same time, Unorthodox is a story about growing up, about finding oneself despite all external resistance. Worth seeing!
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Tip 5: Charité
The historical series "Charité" is also entering its third season. Since November 2019, the filming has been taking place in the Czech Republic. The plot jumps back to 1961, the year the Berlin Wall was built. This continues the concept of placing the everyday life at the Charité directly in relation to the historic events happening in Berlin. The first season is about the progress of medicine at the end of the 19th century. At that time, luminaries such as Robert Koch, Rudolph Virchow, Emil Behring and Paul Ehrlich conducted research at the Charité. Season two is set during the Nazi era and portrays, among others, the famous surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch.
Tip 6: Beat
The backdrop is the Berlin club world. But the dazzling nightlife is overshadowed by crime. To uncover the backers of an organ-trafficking ring, club promoter Robert Schlag, known as Beat, is recruited by the European secret service. Many were disappointed when the Berlin thriller Beat was not continued after the first season, despite winning the Grimme Prize in 2019. At least there is a small consolation: The two seasons of the thriller series around the GDR spy Martin Rauch ("Germany 83" and "Germany 86") will be continued with "Germany 89".
Tip 7: Adlon Hotel
"What happens in the Adlon stays in the Adlon", was the instruction to the bellboys at that time. Well, a few of the myths and secrets of the Adlon have been put in the spotlight by the film adaptation after all. The triology tells the story of the Adlon family and their fateful connection with a second, fictitious family. A drama and ensemble film, but one that contains much historical truth: from the founding of the hotel in the imperial era, through the golden 1920s, the Second World War and the division of Berlin, to the reopening of the luxury house at the Brandenburg Gate in the 1990s. Tip: The Hotel Adlon is also a central setting in the thriller Unknown from 2011.
Tip 8: Ku’Damm 56
Berlin in the 50s. The post-war period is dominated by a conservative mother, her three daughters on their way to adulthood and her dance school "Galant". The sisters want to emancipate themselves, but their mother and society would prefer them to preserve old traditions. In the second season, Ku'Damm 59, the girls are now adults. During a stroll through the Ku'Damm you can always discover architectural treasures that take you back to the time of the series - like the old kiosk at the top of the picture.
Tip 9: Classic series
If you want to find yourself in the Berlin of the 70s, 80s or 90s, you should not miss these series: Liebling Kreuzberg with Manfred Krug as a lawyer, Praxis Bülowbogen with Günter Pfitzmann as family doctor Dr. Brockmann and of course the cult Three Ladies from the Grill (Drei Damen vom Grill) with Brigitte Mira as owner of a snack bar at Nollendorfplatz.
Another Tip is Berlin Weissensee: The series tells the tragic love story of Julia and Martin in East Berlin in the 1980s. The two come from families that could not be more different: Julia's mother is an artist and critic of state power. Martin's father and brother are convinced Stasi employees, he himself is a member of the Volkspolizei. The constellation offers plenty of material for moments of happiness and dramatic turns of events.
Tip 10: Berlin, Berlin
In episode 1, Lolle from the small town of Malente follows her boyfriend to Berlin. The relationship doesn't last long, but Lolle stays in the capital to become a comic artist. On 19 March 2020, the continuation of the ARD cult series will be released as a feature film. Although Lolle is no longer a newcomer to Berlin, the turbulent events continue to unfold. Lolle, who has grown up in the meantime, is once again caught between several men, takes flight as an overburdened bride and is then also sentenced to 40 hours of community service at a school. Take a look from above onto Lolle's Berlin.
Tip 11: Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten (good times, bad times)
GZSZ is the mother of all German soaps. Since 1992, both the "good times and the bad times" have cast a spell over the audience in the eve program. Jo Gerner, a lawyer and owner of the brickwork property, who is still causing intrigue in the neighbourhood, has been there almost from the beginning. But watch out! The Kolleplatz doesn't even exist in reality: filming takes place at Filmpark Babelsberg, where tours of the set are also offered.
More Berlin Productions
US producers are also increasingly choosing Berlin as a location for current productions. In the award-winning CIA series Homeland, agent Carrie Mathison flees to Berlin with her husband and child in search of a quieter life. You can guess that this is not going to end well. Berlin Station is also an agent series. CIA analyst Daniel Meyer, who is officially transferred to the German capital office, is actually on the trail of a whistleblower. Somewhat more fantastic is the plot of Counterpart. Here a simple employee of the Berlin office of the UNO walks between two dimensions. The parallel world was created after an experiment during the Cold War.
Not enough yet? Then check out Turkish for beginners. Or you could join actor Matthias Schweighöfer in "You are wanted" as Lukas Franke, who is completely thrown off track by a hacker attack on his personal data. Also not for the faint hearted are the two crime series from Berlin's clan world: Dogs of Berlin and 4 Blocks. You have more tips? Let us know!