UK vs US TVWednesday, September 11, 2013
Disclaimer: Once again, these videos are NOT SAFE FOR WORK.
Keeping on this whole British TV kick I'd thought I'd bitch about American remakes of UK TV.
There is nothing I hate more than the erroneous notion that American TV is the best around. That with Hollywood and New York and big budgets we have the best television out there.
We have some damn good shows: 30 Rock (RIP), Arrested Development, Breaking Bad. But when American companies look at something overseas and go..."Hmm, that show would do well in America, but only with American actors. Americans can't be expected to figure out what those Brits are saying. We'll copy their shows word for word but instead we'll use Americans."
Example 1: The IT Crowd.
I love Joel McHale but he cannot and should not replace Chris O'Dowd. This is an exact remake, word-for-word pilot. And it just cannot compare to the original. As I mentioned in my other post, British comedy is different than American and to try to do it isn't a form of flattery it is a mockery. It's saying that we can't be bothered to watch the original because Americans can do it better. Only, the thing is, that we can't.
Example 2: Skins
I love Skins. I ate that show up on Netflix even though I was far from being a teenager. It was one of my guilty pleasures. When I heard that MTV was going to be doing a US version I was pretty much like...why? The UK Skins has a cult following, great actors, and great story. Why would you go and try to make something better when there is nothing wrong with in it the first place? And even though some of the changes the US made are minor, they can change the complete feeling of the story and the character.
For example in the UK Skins (Series 1) Tony has a naked man and woman comforter. In the US, Tony's comforter is spiders. That simple act of changing his bedding sends a completely different message to who the character of Tony is. The bedspread, though seemingly immaterial explains a lot more about Tony than even talking to him does. To have a naked couple on his bedspread is both funny and says a lot about his sexuality. The US Tony just comes off as a weirdo, a kid who doesn't always think about sex, someone who likes dark, creepy creatures. It may not seem like a big deal, but the little things make the whole character. It's the things like that that give you a sense of who the person is really.
Here is an article from Vulture that gives you 30 differences between the two versions.
Example 3: Being Human
I mentioned in my other post that I did not feel that the US Being Human was as dark as the UK version. I guess some people like that. I can see the appeal of not feeling so depressed after watching an episode but I also think that the feeling of helplessness and alone-ness is what makes Being Human...Being Human.
The three main characters are NOT human. They are trying their hardest to fit in, with humans all around. That isn't a pleasant situation! That isn't something to be cheerful about. It becomes even more awkward and hard when one of the plot points becomes people hating one of the main characters for what they think is his pedophilia. Not a light topic in the least, but it also isn't accurate. The point of the show is that it's hard trying to fit in when you are a normal person, but it's even harder when you're not.
Example 4: The Inbetweeners
In the UK version the character of Jay is completely vile, irreverent and hilarious. He talks about all the girls he's slept with but clearly has no idea how to even talk to one, much less sleep with one. In the US version, Jay is cast as a bigger guy who just comes off goofy. Though you know that Jay in the UK version is talking bullshit you can suspend your belief because of the way he acts. The US Jay always seems nervous. I cannot even pretend to believe his bullshit.
Also, the US Will is a horrible actor.
There are many shows that have been taken from the UK and made for US audiences and vice versa. Some like The Office have done better than the UK originals here in America but I think that it is few and far between. A lot of the comments to the YouTube videos and on posts say that the American versions always look more polished or "Hollywood" and since we're used to that it might not be a big deal. But it's true that some things need to be gritty, some actors have to look ugly, or at the very least, like a normal every-day person. Not everything has to have a big budget or the best gear to get its point across. Sometimes, it helps when the party is darkly lit, the video is grainy, and not everyone at the party is a model.
I think that the US should try actually airing the UK versions here instead of automatically turning them American. It seems that the US versions get aired in the UK - I'm not sure what channel or how easily accessible it is but I would love to be able to watch UK TV without having to pay 80$ for special cable.
So US TV producers ... try something new: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.