Engoo Blog Travel & Fun

More Than 'Friends': Recommended TV for English Learners

More Than 'Friends': Recommended TV for English Learners

One question that students often ask is which English-language TV shows they should watch to help them improve their English skill.

And it's a very good question — films and TV shows can be great ways to gain new vocabulary and boost your listening ability.

While some shows are very popular with English learners, we'd like to use this article to highlight some others that don't often get mentioned. Some of these shows are newer, so they have not had the chance to earn a reputation as being a good study tool.

It's important to know that these shows deal with a wide variety of topics, and some may not be appropriate for every learner. However, we've included a short preview of each to help you decide if it is right for you.

Television recommendations

Three young people watching TV while eating snacks

Seinfeld (comedy)

Seinfeld is an American sitcom (short for "situation comedy") that debuted in 1989. In the 1990s, it became one of the most popular shows on American television. 

Seinfeld is famous for being a "show about nothing — it's not about doctors, police officers or investigators in dramatic situations. Instead, each episode is about a group of four friends and their everyday experiences in New York City. This includes things like killing time while waiting for a seat in a restaurant, or losing their car in a large parking lot.

Many lines from Seinfeld have become popular expressions that can be heard in daily conversations, such as "yada yada" or "double-dipper." Watch to find out what they mean!

One Piece (adventure)

One Piece is a Netflix original series based on a Japanese manga by Eiichiro Oda, which began publication in 1997.

The show tells the story of a group called the Straw Hat Pirates, who travel the seas in many dangerous and exciting missions. The group is led by Monkey D. Luffy, a passionate young man whose goal is to become the king of the pirates and find a legendary treasure called the One Piece.

Similar to the comic and anime series it is based on, One Piece has a bright and colorful style. However, you don't need to know the original stories in order to enjoy and learn from this show.

Superstore (comedy)

Like another show on this list, Superstore is a "workplace comedy," or a series focusing on employees of a particular company. In this case, the store is called Cloud 9, and it is similar to the real-world chain Walmart, which can be found throughout America and in countries around the world.

Although the stories are exaggerated for comedy, this show can help you learn a bit about retail jobs in America, including things like office relationships and dealing with customers in normal and not-so-normal situations.

The Office (comedy)

The Office is a famous example of a "mockumentary," or a film/TV series made to look as if it were documenting real people and real situations.

The original version of this series was released in the UK in 2001, and it focused on a team of employees at a paper company. This team's manager, however, is not quite as intelligent, funny or good at his job as he believes he is.

Similar to Superstore, The Office also deals with themes such as work culture and interactions with colleagues in a funny way.

After becoming successful in the UK, an American version was released in 2005 and also became a huge hit. That means you have two different versions to choose from: British or American!

Or, you can try watching both, which will help you learn about the differences in British and American senses of humor.

WandaVision (science-fiction, drama, romance)

WandaVision is a mini-series from 2021 available on Disney+. It is connected to the popular series of Marvel films based on comic book characters.

The story focuses on a married couple with strange superhuman abilities. Although their life together looks perfect, soon it seems that something is not right in their world.

One unique point of WandaVision is that each episode matches the style, fashion and music of a different era of American television. So in addition to the story being told, you can also get a quick lesson on the history of popular American sitcoms.

If you enjoy mysteries, romance and science-fiction, you will likely enjoy this series. Although it is a part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, WandaVision can be enjoyed completely on its own — although knowing the backstory does help! 

WandaVision is only one season, which consists of just nine episodes, so you can watch the entire story relatively quickly.

Adventure Time (adventure — of course!, comedy, fantasy)

In the past, Western animated shows and films were thought to be for children only. These days, however, it is understood that animation can be for all age groups, including adults.

In the case of Adventure Time, it's for both! Debuting in 2010, this comedy series tells the story of Finn and his dog/brother, Jake, in the strange Land of Ooo.

Adventure Time has developed a big fanbase of people of all ages, and it is not difficult to find clothing, toys and games based on the series.

Each episode is only about 11 minutes long, which is useful for short study sessions when you don't have a lot of time!

The Big Bang Theory (comedy)

The Big Bang Theory is another sitcom that became one of the most popular series on American television. Its name comes from the concept that the universe began with a giant explosion millions of years ago.

The story of the series is much easier to understand, however. It's about a group of scientist and mathematician friends who live in Pasadena, California. Most of them would be considered "geeks" because of their interests and eccentric personalities.

Although The Big Bang Theory contains a lot of advanced, scientific vocabulary, it is written so that anyone can enjoy it, even if you are not a math or science genius!

Glee (musical, comedy, drama)

There are not many sitcoms that are also musicals, but Glee is one of them!

This series, which began in 2009, is about a high school singing club and the lives of its members. Although it is mostly funny, the series also deals with a variety of social issues, including race, sexuality, disability and the complicated relationships of high school and family.

Because music is such an important part of this show, you can get the benefit of learning English through songs, which is a very effective way to practice listening, repetition and memorization.

Black Mirror (science-fiction, drama, thriller)

Black Mirror is best for higher-level students. 

It is an anthology series, which means each episode is a new story with new characters.

Although the episodes are independent, the theme of the series is technology and the strange and scary ways it can be used in the future — and even the present!

Be aware that some of the stories include very intense scenes and themes that some people may find disturbing. If you're not sure if this is for you, we can recommend "San Junipero," which is one of the most famous episodes and has a much lighter tone than many of the others. 

Watching this show will also introduce you to a lot of new vocabulary, especially words related to technology. However, many of the stories take place in situations in which normal, everyday English is used.

Watch and learn

Television shows are not only a source of entertainment, they also give us a look at the cultures that produce them. Through these and other shows, you will have the chance to improve your English while also learning about Western customs, attitudes and ideas about what people think is funny or scary.

From fake documentaries to spooky looks into the future, we hope you can find something interesting and educational on this list!