The Voices in the TV

One of the things that I absolutely was not prepared for when I moved here was the television. I knew that Germany had a lot of American shows on the television; I knew that they were definitely not in English, but I didn’t realize what that meant. I’m going to chalk that up to that blissful pre-move state we all get into: we know we’re doing something awesome and huge, but aren’t thinking about the little things, like how to get a job in a land that speaks another language, where we’ll go grocery shopping, etc.

You know, the small but actually really important things. The ones that help you survive and/or feel comfortable.

About 11 months ago, I thought I’d never get used to the voices. The Americans in Germany know what I mean: the voice actors. I didn’t realize what a huge deal voice acting was over here… I also didn’t realize what a hold American TV has on the international market. I imagined before moving that I’d get addicted to some random German TV shows that would be obscure to my American friends.

Wrong. I get to watch the same shows over here that I did over there (although sometimes a season later, because of the voice-acting). I have tried, really hard to enjoy actual German television and I haven’t found anything that I like yet, although I have to say I really enjoy the German non-biased reporting style for the news and documentaries.

All of this leads back to voice acting. It’s its own market over here. It is a mother of a BFD, in fact. In hindsight, I’m not exactly sure what I expected to hear over here. I think that I didn’t think that far, that’s all I can say. It’s, well, different. Obviously, the people that do the TV shows or voices in the US don’t speak German, unless we’re talking about Heidi Klum, the (now-apparently-going-back-to-the-movies) Governator and a few random others. Because of this, the shows don’t sound the same. Which, shockingly, makes a really big difference. At first.

Sounding the same is the tip of the iceberg, though. What I mean by this is voice acting: there are people whose job it is to just dub shows from other countries. And since it’s Germany, it’s all very well-organized, apparently: each major actor gets their own voice actor… this means that Leo DiCaprio has only one person that does all of his films. There is only one actress for Angelina Jolie. This is really cool, and means that people can actually identify with the actors even if it’s not their real voice: the voice that the actor/actress has in Germany is the voice that people get to really, well, know.

There are some things, though, that just cannot be dubbed over (how most shows from America are treated): these cover just about anything on MTV or shows that are too ‘normal speak.’ What I mean by ‘normal speak’ is really just slang, or too fast to dub over in the complicated language of ze Germans. Shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Elimidate” are, sadly, in their original language with subtitles. I guess this is a fail. On the upside, though, the “Chappelle’s Show” is also just ‘too American’ to be dubbed, so it also gets subtitles. Which is great, if you’re me and happen to LOVE tCS.

Shows like “House,” “Law and Order,” etc.: dubbed. No problem there. Shows like “South Park” and “Family Guy”: also dubbed. Which is fine, except that in these shows there are some pretty well-known voices that just can’t be replicated. Well, at first. A year into life in Deutschland, I don’t really miss the real voices of Stewie or Cartman anymore. Yes, I really do love them in their original form, but the German voice actors do a good enough job that I’ve stopped silently wishing for the Americans to learn German.

The voice acting subject is something I could write further on, but I think that’s enough for now. I’ll save books on CD for another post.


More: German Dubbing Voices for Hollywood Movies and TV (from

One thought on “The Voices in the TV

  1. An alternative is SkyTV (from Britain)….US Shows in English. But if your goal is to learn more German then you should do what you ware doing!

Comments are closed.