11 Reasons You Should Embrace Subtitles, Not Fear Them

Shutterstock / Nadia Snopek

Subtitles. Why does that word send ripples of fear through some viewers? Perhaps the thought of reading while watching TV feels like doing extra work. “How could I possibly enjoy a show if I have to read along?” some might ask. Well, for one, you’re probably already enjoying subtitles and you don’t even know it. And secondly, some of the best films and series come from non-English-speaking countries, so why let those little words on the screen stop you from enjoying them?

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Here at Topic we embrace subtitles with gusto, because they open a door to an entire world of entertainment. In the famous words of “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” But if you need more convincing, here are 11 reasons why you should go ahead and smash that subtitles button.

(And if you’ve already conquered subtitles, then be sure to check out Topic for TV and film from over 40 countries.)

1. Subtitles allow you to travel the world through your screen.

Wanna see what crime procedurals are like in Senegal? Or a “Breaking Bad”-style show set in Russia? Subtitles are your passport to the world.

2. You’re really, REALLY missing out.

Some of the most incredible films and series in history have been foreign-language ones. Think “Rashomon.” “La Dolce Vita.” “In the Mood For Love.” The list goes on and on!

3. Subtitles make you smarter, and smart is sexy.

Research shows that watching with subtitles can increase your reading speed, widen your vocabulary, and improve your literacy rate overall. Research also shows that being smart makes you more sexually attractive.

4. You can learn new languages by watching TV.

Why enroll in a language class when you can just watch Nordic Noir? Your acquired vocabulary might be a little murder-oriented but, hey, you gotta start somewhere.

5. Subtitles are a challenge, sure, but challenges strengthen you.

You need challenges to help build resiliency. Facing a challenge in one area of life can help you navigate other areas. So who knows? Conquering subtitles could lead to finally finishing “Infinite Jest.”

6. With just a little practice subtitles can go from daunting to addictive.

Think of subtitles like surfing, which seems daunting at first, but after practicing just a few times you won’t ever want to leave your board.

7. You can technically say you read in bed every night.

Do you stream from bed every night? With subtitles you can technically say you read before bed every night. Doesn’t that sound cooler and, yup, sexier?

8. It helps improve your focus.

Reading subtitles while watching a film or series keeps your attention on the screen at all times. This can be especially helpful for people with ADHD.

9. You can keep up with the story even if you’re surrounded by loud noises.

Ever find yourself turning up the volume because you can’t hear the screen over your crunching? Or have you ever wished you could watch something while vacuuming? Subtitles allow you to enjoy a show or film, no matter how loud your surroundings are.

10. Reading captions for sound effects can be very amusing.

Remember when the “intensity intensified” on “Breaking Bad”? Or when Spock “sobbed mathematically”? These are just a few of the many hilarious closed captions out there. You’d never even know they existed if you never turned on subtitles. Tragic!

11. Subtitles > dubbing (infinitely).

Watching a dubbed foreign film is like putting ketchup on filet mignon—you’re ruining a perfectly good thing.

Now that you’re no longer scared of subtitles, check out Topic for a whole new world of foreign thrillers, mysteries, dramas, and docs.