You're sitting down to watch an acclaimed foreign television series, settling in on the couch with your reading glasses, ready for those subtitles… when suddenly, your eardrums are assaulted by awkwardly stilted English dialogue. How do you turn off the dubbing for Netflix's Dark? It's a question that's driving some subscribers (like me) up the wall as they try to delve into the mysteries of the buzzy "German Stranger Things," but find themselves distracted by the dubbing instead, with seemingly no way to turn it off.
And while I admit that there may be some people out there who prefer dubbing over subtitles, I don't know them and they're not my friends and we're not here to talk about them. We're here for the people who understand that a large part of acting is that little thing called a voice, and therefore watching a show in its native tongue is the only way to truly appreciate the storytelling the way it was intended to be consumed. Fortunately for purists, there is a way to turn off the dubbing and enjoy the authentic voices of the show's German cast.
You would think German would be the default language for Dark, given that that's the language it was made in, but you'll have to manually switch over from English yourself first. However, there's no obvious "Settings" button to click on in the main screen before you hit "Play." Rather, you'll actually have to start watching the show before you can change your audio preferences. This is a bit easier to do if you're watching on a computer, where the language and subtitle preferences are easily noticeable and accessible on the bottom of the screen, right between the episode selection and the full screen option.
But if you're watching on any mobile platform or streaming device (like Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, etc.), the whole process becomes a little more confounding. The language options aren't immediately apparent, and you may find yourself flicking randomly back and forth between screens, searching for a "Settings" option to no avail. Fortunately, they're still there. Again, you'll have to start watching the show before you can change the preferences. Then, depending on which streaming or mobile device you're using, you'll have to take an action (usually either pressing and holding the center button or pushing the down arrow of your controller) to bring up a list of options, including subtitles and audio language.
You may notice then that, among the languages listed (English, Spanish, French, Italian), there are actually two options for German. On a computer, those two options are labeled "German" and "German — Audio Description," the latter of which contains a voiceover of the action for blind viewers. But, again, this is different on a streaming or mobile device, which may very well have two options that both simply say "German." In that case, you'll simply have to guess which one is which and, if you're wrong, pause the show again to switch to the other option.
And there's still one final hurdle to test your resolve: Changing the language and subtitle preferences while watching one show on Netflix actually changes your preferences across the entire streaming service (at least when I did it). So when you switch over to catch up on The Crown after you finish with Dark, you'll have to manually turn off the subtitles and change the language from German back to English.
Ultimately, once you figure out how to change the preferences, it's certainly worth it to watch Dark in its original language. After all, everything sounds more ominous when said in German...