The Same Sky TV series from Germany, currently streaming on Netflix, is an unexpected delight. Cold war spy tales are an overworked genre, but, possibly inspired by the success of The Americans, the producers of The Same Sky have created a suspenseful, intriguing story story with surprisingly small doses of sex, violence, and action.
The Same Sky is set in 1974 Berlin, Germany. A joint US and British listening station in West Berlin is monitoring East German communications. Meanwhile, East Germany is making their own plans to spy on the West. Lars Weber, played by Tom Schilling, is a young agent trained in the art of seduction. Once placed in West Berlin, he is to seduce a British civilian that works at the listening station and find out what she knows.
This sounds like standard stuff, but there is lots of complexity and drama in The Same Sky. It is layered with stories of gay men in East Berlin, a teen girl recruited to train for the German Democratic Republic (GDR) Olympic swim team, and the GDR spying on its own citizens. The characters are all somehow connected to the main story.
Of course, the main operation does not go as planned. Lars has mastered his craft, but unforeseen events occur. There is also the chance that Lars will be seduced by Western lifestyle and freedoms. Two or three episodes in, we see a pair of photos that hints at secrets about some of the main characters; we now know more than they do.
Events proceed at a steady pace, making time to explore some of the characters, but there are no dull moments. We were drawn in quickly, ready to watch the next episode as soon as each one ended. And when the series ended, it left us with hopes for another season.
The Same Sky TV series has a slightly washed-out, 1970s era, color film look to it. Along with clunky TV sets in the background showing news about Watergate and a soccer game between the two Germanies, it places us squarely in that time, though many of the story elements could be from the ‘50s or ‘60s.
The Same Sky was written by Paula Milne, known for The Politician’s Wife and The Politician’s Husband, among other series. It first aired in 2017 on Germany’s ZDF and CzechTV. There are six episodes in season one on Netflix, each about 45 minutes, though it was originally shown as three longer episodes. Before you ask, there is no word yet on The Same Sky season 2.