Netflix’s The Defeated Review: An Uprising of Power, Scandal and Crime

If it seems to you like any one of the last four German series that Netflix has pumped out might be just what you’re looking for — or, even, all four — then I think it’s fair to say that The Defeated is for you. Written and directed by the Swedish filmmaker- Björn Stein, it is set in post-war Germany.

The Defeated review does not contain any spoilers

The Defeated joins the league of Babylon Berlin, Dark, and You Are Wanted in being created for Netflix by a team of resilient and driven writers/directors duo. It’s a period drama that is dense, thought-provoking and will stay with you long after it’s over.

Netflix’s The Defeated Sets Into Motion the German Perspective

I am not a fan of historical dramas, but I began watching The Defeated series because of its star-studded cast. My hunch was right, and I was already hooked on to the series in the first episode. Taylor Kitsch articulates the power of storytelling with a compelling portrayal of the protagonist – Max McLaughlin.

Netflix's The Defeated Review: An Uprising of Power, Scandal and Crime

Max is accompanied by Michael C. Hall, who dons the role of Tom Franklin and Nina Hoss, who plays the role of Elsie Garten. I am sold on the performances and the perspective which breaks the shackles of the viewing experience.

The Defeated, also called Shadowplay, stands out for approaching its subject matter vividly, making it as distinctive as it is gripping. Set in the backdrop of a defeated, devastated Berlin, the Netflix Original Series took inspiration from real-life events when Berlin was under the four-power partition. It is a fantastic watch.

Every Frame of The Defeated Unfolds an Unspeakable Horror

In a world where every life seems to have zero value, the viewer becomes accustomed to the futility of such situations. This is a world where everyone has broken out of their humanity and embraced their most base, primitive instincts. It is an allegory about post-war/post-revolution Berlin and how historically, the warring sides have committed unspeakable atrocities like manslaughter, rape and more.

Netflix's The Defeated Review: An Uprising of Power, Scandal and Crime

If there is one thing that stands out above all else, it’s authenticity. It’s so well put together and demonstrates just how little conflict motivation changes from generation to generation. Propaganda to dehumanize the enemy worked just as well in Vietnam as in the First World War.

This is why most war series try explaining the violence and horror of war as a rationale for conflict. Still, The Defeated shows us what we already know, that no matter how good our intentions are, people will do terrible things when they’re backed into a corner.

Also Read: Netflix’s Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes Review

The Defeated Series- A Nation Trying to Rebuild Its Lost Glory

Without a character arc, we are thrust into the world of post-war Germany through its narrative frame: a defeated nation trying to rebuild itself on an economic policy of self-destruction. This is where I loved The Defeated the most; it’s not only very different but also wickedly cynical in its storytelling.

Netflix's The Defeated Review: An Uprising of Power, Scandal and Crime

It’s different from anything I’ve seen in a while, but that doesn’t stop it from keeping you at the edge of your seat for those who aren’t necessarily familiar with the time or Berlin. The Defeated is a series that stands out from the pack in terms of characterizations and production value.

If it were just that — a punishment for Nazis — The Defeated would be of great value. But it’s got more up its sleeve than that, and I’d argue that it’s best served as not just an interesting frame but an effective depiction of desperate survival and shifting morals through hardship.

The Defeated is A Massive Undertaking By Netflix

Netflix's The Defeated Review: An Uprising of Power, Scandal and Crime

This series receives its title from the fall of Berlin, which it depicts in detail, and by its stylistic choice to focus on the horrors and traumas of war rather than celebrating its wartime heroism.

The show’s protagonists find themselves embroiled amid impossible predicaments fuelled by treason and gruesome crimes. The post-war Berlin setting is both the backdrop and a character all its own, adopting a film noir aesthetic that’s particularly effective in its consistency.

This is a grim collection of broken, war-weary people existing on the fringes of society and in constant fear of being discovered. Still, they are brought into sharp relief by the optimistic promise of a hopeful tomorrow.

The post-war scene is the perfect ground for a mystery like this – petty criminals and black markets are aplenty, and enough time has passed for wounds to start healing while deep hatred is still fresh.

Stream It Or Skip It?

Watching The Defeated on Netflix has been a mixed bag for me. Now, that statement is made with absolutely no mincing of words whatsoever. Who knew a show about Nazi Germany could be so interesting?

The saga is surprisingly good, despite its incredibly bleak premise. I found it oddly easy to watch and enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. Much of this is due to the stellar performances from its actors, impressive cinematography and a convincing mystery theme.

The Defeated is streaming on Netflix.

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The Defeated is surprisingly good, despite its incredibly bleak premise.


  1. I got through two episodes looking for some reason to continue to watch a fascinating premise for a series. After watching a whole lot of murder (graphic, ugly and pretty close to gratuitous) there are only layers of ugliness to explore, with little to nothing redeemable to wait on.

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Netflix's The Defeated Review: An Uprising of Power, Scandal and CrimeThe Defeated is surprisingly good, despite its incredibly bleak premise.