Series review: The Houseboat

Take two musicians with no knowledge of DIY, the decrepit houseboat of a German music legend and a dream to create a refuge for musicians. What could go wrong? Netflix’s limited series The Houseboat will show you.

The series follows the story of German musicians Fynn Klieman and Olli Schulz who buy the houseboat of the late musician Gunter Gabriel with plans of what they think will be a simple renovation to make a creative space for musicians. The first hurdle is the discovery that Gabriel was a hoarder and so the mission to clear out the home begins. It only goes downhill from there. They quickly learn that the project is much bigger than they anticipated with the discovery of rot, leaks and eroded walls.

You really feel for the guys as they discover that they are way out of their depth and that, by their own admission, they bought a heap of scrap metal. Yet you have to admire the determination and ambition to achieve their dream.

As much as it is about the renovation project, probably the most interesting part of the series is the development of Fynn and Olli’s relationship. At the beginning of the project, Fynn and Olli are more acquaintances in the early stages of friendship. Both are endearing and likeable with their quips and banter. As the project goes on tensions quickly rise and the charming camaraderie seems to be lost. Nevertheless, we see how the two men deal with the strain on their relationship and overcome it to continue building their friendship and houseboat.


While an interesting watch overall, in hindsight I did find that I started to lose interest in the middle of the series. Maybe it’s because I’m used to shows like Grand Designs that cover everything in one episode and this had a lot more detail of the tasks undertaken. There’s only so much I want to learn about welding.

The Houseboat is entirely in German with English subtitles. While I’m a fan of foreign films and boast an A-Level in German, I quickly learned if you lose attention for a few moments you can miss details of what the latest dilemma is. I found I was questioning why they had to do things a certain way, or even how the investors expected to get their money back. Though with my interest being lost I wasn’t in any hurry to rewind to find out the answers.

What could have saved The Houseboat, at least for international audiences, was more about why Fynn and Olli were so keen to preserve this houseboat. Surely building a houseboat from scratch would have been easier and cheaper? The reason is Gunter Gabriel, the man responsible for bringing American country music to Germany. Gabriel’s influence is probably lost on a lot of people not familiar with the German music scene and it would have been great to learn more about him beyond the few nods.

The Houseboat, a floating and real life version of the film The Money Pit, is sure to resonate with viewers who have taken on renovation projects that have not gone to plan. If you want to see where Olli and Fynn end up with their houseboat project, be sure to check out The Houseboat on Netflix.





Author: Marianne, Customer Services