The Dutch TV culture

| Lisa Waldera

Lisa Waldera (24) is a master’s student Communication Studies from Bremen, Germany. For three years now, she’s been living on campus. Next to her study, she regularly visits the cinema and enjoys concerts of all music genres. Every other week she writes about her life at the University of Twente.

Photo by: Annabel Jeuring

I started watching Dutch TV shows and series regularly. It is an easy way to learn about culture and language. While I preferred English shows with Dutch subtitles in the beginning, I was able to move on to Dutch shows by now. The range of available talk shows did not disappoint. I barely remember watching a talk show before. Here, everything is presented, promoted, discussed and explained in a daily discussion round. Every channel seems to have their own studio with a round table and one or two hosts. Recently, even with changing hosts every day.

What I otherwise appreciate are the familiar tv formats that are also being shown in different countries. First Dates, The Voice, All you need is love, Boer zoekt vrouw. Now that I think about it. There are quite a lot of the same shows in Germany and the Netherlands. However, I started noticing some differences. I think especially with these familiar formats, cultural differences pop out more. Everything is allowed on Dutch TV. Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Nudity. Every topic is being discussed. And actually, I came to appreciate this. The Dutch TV culture is very liberal. Jokes about sex seem to be a daily fare. Casts are ethnically diverse. Oh and Belgian people are being made fun of all the time.  

Another difference I noticed is the number of used swearwords. I am not used to people being so expressive and still be allowed to appear on the next show. No one on Dutch TV has to ever watch their words. A plus is that I learned a whole lot of swearwords in no time.

But I have one more question. I am aware that the Netherlands is a small country but why are always the same people participating in every single show? It seems as if RTL is employing 10 people who are constantly rotating to fill seats in celebrity quiz shows. But I guess that is why there are also many British and German channels available.

The only disadvantage is that I find German TV quite shallow now. No one is testing the effects of drugs. No swearwords. And no Eva Jinek. While Dutch people go for confrontation with difficult topics, Germans just do not discuss it on TV at all. Boring.