What to watch on Netflix: German historical drama Barbarians

Barbarians episode 6 / Credit: Katalin Vermes (Netflix)
Barbarians episode 6 / Credit: Katalin Vermes (Netflix) /

Wind back the clock with Netflix’s Barbarians and return to a time where Germanic tribes fought the Romans in a clash over sovereignty.

This week, we’re in the mood for a historical drama, Netflix watchers. If you’re a fan of Vikings, you may want to give Barbarians a try. The series is a German export set over 2,000 years ago in 9 A.D. when the Roman Empire was strengthening its hold on the Germanic tribes they’d conquered.

In Barbarians, Varus (Gaetano Aronica), the newly appointed governor of the region, demands order and subjugation from the tribes. He charges his adopted son, Arminius (Laurence Rupp), with quelling even an inkling of an uprising. To him, Arminius is an essential piece of maintaining dominion over the area.

Arminius was born the son of a Reik. Heir to the Cherusci, he was given in offering to Rome by his father in exchange for peace with the empire.  But being in his homeland around his people and reuniting with his childhood friends, Thusnelda (Jeanne Goursaud) and Folkwin Woflspeer (David Schütter), makes Arminius question his loyalties and whose side he should be on.

When the fires of rebellion begin to be stoked, Arminius has to make a choice: is he a son of Rome in its opulent splendor and wrath or a Cherusci ready to bite the hand that’s choking him?

Watch the trailer for Barbarians below:

Barbarians is a quick binge at six episodes between 40-50 minutes a piece. It’s a historical series that jumps right into the thick of the tension, swords sharp and blood aplenty. While you’ll have to wait until the finale to see full-scale warfare i.e. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, there are multiple fight scenes that will satisfy those who love action sequences.

Political intrigue is present in Barbarians, but it’s low-scale and easy to follow. The series is more concerned with the conflict between the Germanic tribes, Arminius’ internal struggle, and a subplot of romance to keep things spicy.

Thusnelda is a stand out character in the show and one of the three leads. The story follows her journey as the daughter of a lord whose lot in life is to be married to who her father deems fit, and through a series of events, becomes a leader of her people. However, it’s at a cost as all things are when you beg favor from the gods; they demand sacrifice.

One who knows such sacrifice is Folkwin whose fight for freedom leaves a trail of murder and betrayal in his wake when all he wanted was love and family.

Barbarians season one is available to stream now on Netflix.

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What shows and movies should we be adding to our Netflix watch list? Serve up your selections in the comments below!