TV Review: We Are The Wave (2019)

‘We Are The Wave’ is Netflix’s new German Original, about an anti-fascist movement built by a group of teenagers in a small town. Based upon a novel written in 1981, yet managing to be extremely modern and relevant, it is far superior to any of the teen-led American shows which Netflix seems desperate to push onto us.

In a little town, the rise of right-wing populism is notable. There are racists around every corner, as character Rahim experiences on a daily basis. A local paper factory has polluted all of the fields around it, meaning Hagen’s family farm is unable to work, and the family is struggling as a result. Zazie’s been bullied all her life for being different, and for her mother’s schizophrenia. Eva, one of the bullies (in the past), is just, well, bored.

A new kid starts at the school, Tristan. First of all, he is extremely attractive, which was no doubt a deliberate decision on the side of the producers. Upon entering the school, one of the first things he does is seek out Rahim. Rahim expects him to be “like everyone else”, and assume that because he is from the Middle East he is a drug dealer. Tristan shocks him by being the complete opposite of what he expects. And it continues…..

Soon, the five previous strangers are all in a group, wanting to change the world for the better. With every political group, there are problems; who is in the group, what the aims are, what everyone’s relationship is. While the first two are often ambiguous, the last point is…. well, relationship. Which normally, would be cliche. But with this show, it approaches it brilliantly. There’s no random sex scenes inserted to fill time, there’s no never-ending love triangle. It doesn’t distract from the story, which is rarely seen in other Netflix shows. Indeed, this show just proves once again that Europe is the best at creating dramas.

We Are The Wave manages to sum up the world of 2019. There are striking similarities to the climate movement, partly as to how the ‘Wave’ spreads to different cities. It also accurately shows some of the criticisms aimed at such movements, in such a way that you don’t always know if it is endorsing these protests or condemning them. Take Eva for example; although she has a middle-class lifestyle, everything she could ever want and a seemingly lovely boyfriend, she wants to make a difference to the world. There’s lots of criticism in the world about how movements such as the Klimatstrijk are led by the middle-classes, and not people who really care about everyday people, but are privileged enough to be able to go after such heighty ideals such as radically changing the global economy, or the peace movement. This is also depicted, particularly in an exchange between Eva and the police officer who is determined to hunt them down.

What also impressed me was the characters themselves. You can see their internal battles wrestling with them as the movement gets more and more dangerous. With the exception of Eva’s boyfriend, Bjorn, and those who are depicted as nationalist and extreme (so obviously not meant to be liked) the characters are likeable, sometimes in interesting ways. Eva’s father, Andreas, has a mischievous streak in him, where he will occasionally, with a glint in his eye, refer to his youth when he too took part in protest movements.

Will there be a Season 2? All of the signs point towards it, and I wouldn’t be opposed. There’s a clear plotline which could be followed featuring the Wave’s enemies, and there’s also a cliffhanger featuring the (clearly) unstable Zazie. It all depends, of course, on how successful the show is on Netflix, and just how many people watch it. At six episodes, it’s also a good length; not a scene is wasted. If there is no more, then it was a wonderful season; if there is, I can’t wait to see it.


  • Ludwig Simon as Tristan
  • Luise Belfort as Eva
  • Michelle Barthel as Zazie
  • Mohamed Issa as Rahim
  • Daniel Friedl as Hagen

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