By Dave B.
Normally, if I’m going to watch something that’s foreign language, I’ll just stick to the subtitles. Dubs can be of highly variable quality and even the best ones can be annoying at times. That said, I decided to give Netflix’s dubbing a chance on it’s Danish-language original show The Rain, largely because Netflix has data showing that it’s dubbed shows have been successful and I knew that most of the cast was bilingual and had dubbed their own parts.
Overall, the experience with Netflix dubbing was fundamentally no different than any other live action dubbing experience that I’ve had. It was okay; slightly annoying and hard to decipher at times, but eventually I kind of stopped noticing it much. I don’t think Netflix has revolutionized the practice of dubbing in any way, but their ubiquitous use of high-quality analytics has likely allowed them to determine which types of dubbed programs will be appealing to a wider audience. In this case, I think they made a good choice with, The Rain.
The Rain follows a group of Danish survivors of a water-based plague six years after the it has wiped out most of Denmark’s population. Definitely, The Rain has a great premise. It is also one of the most frustrating and infuriating shows that I have seen in years.
From simple continuity errors (didn’t y’all have more than one gun in the last episode) to terrible decision-making (multiple people repeatedly being willing to expose the rest of the world to the worst virus in human history to save one extremely annoying and unworthy person), The Rain has convinced me that no one in Denmark will survive an apocalyptic scenario if even one of the archetypes displayed on the show at all resembles how anyone in that country actually approaches a crisis scenario.
Not only that, but I have some serious questions that I need to have answered. For example, does Denmark really sell morphine over the counter??? I just have a hard time believing that. How does a wall stop the spread of a virus that is transmitted through water??? It’s in the rain, in the rivers, in the oceans. It makes no sense! Does it really rain in Denmark all the time??? Like every day??? I’m from Cleveland. It precipitates a lot there. But even we get a break from it every once in a while. Is there super evaporation in Denmark??? Because after the daily rains, people would just go back out and start touching wet surfaces almost immediately.
These (and many, many other) questions occurred to me because the show isn’t good enough to get viewers to suspend disbelief. The characters are unlikable. The scenery is drab. The antagonists are…mostly absent. It just isn’t a very good show. That said, there are aspects of it that will definitely appeal to American audiences.
The second half of the season is undoubtedly better than the first. Some of the mystery behind the plague is revealed and viewers have had time to accustom themselves to the foolish and annoying protagonist and her even more foolish and annoying little brother. Also, the show pulls on different emotional strings than an American show of similar content and quality would. It is difficult for me to describe, but I would say that The Rain is more “innocent” than American dystopian fiction tends to be. It isn’t that all of the characters are shallow or two-dimensional. It’s more that most of them have a childlike quality that many Americans will likely feel is quaint, novel, and refreshing.
The Rain is not a good show, but at eight episodes and with the dash of novelty that it has, it's watchable, perhaps even mildly enjoyable, to an extent. I don’t recommend The Rain, and I DEFINITELY don’t recommend spending the apocalypse in Denmark, but if you’re an American who has to do either, you’ll probably survive. 5/10