Sunday, September 09, 2007


Now this does get up my nose about America...

Apart from George Bush and his cronies, and their immoral and illegal war, and many more issues I have with the related US politics and religious fundamentalism and evangelism and creationism ... I am not actually anti-Yank. Pinky promise. I am capable of separating organisations, media and government from the individual. Ok, I may have been heard to utter the 'only in America' line once or twice. But actually, my recent foray into blog reading has been really refreshing as I 'get to know' individual Americans. Many of whom are way cool, and also intelligent and funny and clever, and hey! we have stuff like our parenting ups and downs in common too! Also America is tandem-central as far as bike parts, and the actual tandems themselves, so the country certainly ain't all bad!

I do resist the Americanisation of our language and idiom (and especially spelling). I can't help it, I'm guess I'm a bit old school Aussie, and I fiercely defend the Aussie character that, like it or not, grew out of British colonisation. I have tended to avoid the saturation of American tv in my life partly because I have always avoided watching the commercial tv stations. They tend to broadcast a far greater percentage of American television than the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) and I have grown up feasting on great British comedy and drama programmes. Rightly or wrongly my preference is thus for British shows.... I prefer the sense of humour, and there tends to be something special about British actors. I confess that more recently I've picked up on a few more American shows that I do enjoy. (Just a shame they are mostly shown on commercial telly, so I have to put up with the frigging ads.) Of course we also grew up with some of the great made in the US classics. (I've already mentioned my husband's addiction to Get Smart.)

Frankly, though, there are a lot more crappy American shows than British shows that make it on to our screens, so it tends to skew my perception somewhat. But anyway, you can't blame Americans for selling whatever shows they make to anyone who will buy them. Our bad that we do so indiscriminately!

What really does insult my sensibilities though is the American penchant for remaking English speaking shows. Particularly all these classic British shows! And there are many. What the? And WHY?

I first became aware of this back in my childhood when I realised that the classic British comedy Stepford and Son was remade as Sanford and Son, and Man about the House became Three's Company. And I was highly irritated by it back then. On principle really. I couldn't understand the need for it. If I, in Australia, could enjoy (and understand) a particular British show, how come the Yanks couldn't? It's not like it was in a foreign language!

I am currently on my high horse about it, however, because the American remake of The Office is now being promoted on Australian TV. (If the kids didn't manipulate me and switch stations, I'd still be in my blissful ABC/BBC commercial free ignorance.) But therein lies my real objection. If Americans are so incapable of 'getting' British humour and culture, then, whatever. Their loss, really, if 'they' want to be so insular, though truly it is not a good 'look' on the world stage. [Note: this is not a personal attack on individual Americans, because I know they have as much influence about what gets shown on TV there as I have here! ] But when this recycled Americanised version is then peddled to Australia, and the bloody TV networks buy it and show it, when we have already seen the original, and stupid (Australian) people watch it, then, yes, it does piss me right off!!

As I checked out the list on that wikipedia article, I became more and more incensed. There were even more than I realised! All these classic British shows - being remade. Americanised. Americanized. Thank heavens, as it turns out, not many have actually been shown here, but it is still total, total blasphemy! In no particular order, these are just a few of the classics I've watched over my lifetime, and I can't believe that they have been remade in America. (with varying levels of success it seems.)

Coupling. Red Dwarf. This Life. Fawlty Towers! (Are you kidding me?!) The IT Crowd. The Vicar of Dibley. Porridge. George and Mildred. Love Thy Neighbour. Dad's Army. Cracker. Life on Mars!

(I haven't linked them here, but they are linked on that Wikipedia page.)

Don't get me wrong. I do understand the need to localise game shows, reality shows, and comedy formats that rely on local topical subject matter. (If I never saw another reality show in my life it wouldn't be too soon, but that's another subject altogether.) But it's the essence of dramas and comedies - where they are set - the characters - that are what works for them. Transfer them across to another culture and they surely lose the quality that makes the show what it was in the first place. Imagine doing a British remake of, say, Get Smart? Gilligan's Island? More recent stuff like X-Files?

I was relieved to see that this trend.. habit.. is at least noted and criticised within America. Well, I found one article on page one of my Google search. But seriously, America! Is it little wonder that the rest of the world thinks "America" is too self-centred when they remake shows that are in the same language?!!

As for Australian shows (like Kath and Kim) being remade - well.. it irks as well, but sadly it is more expected. Other than Crocodile Dundee, and that guy who said Crikey a lot and wrestled crocodiles (what is it about crocodiles?) it seems that Americans are not very good at understanding the Aussie accent, never mind Aussie humour. (It's nice to see that now Aussies can actually be cast in American shows as Australians - eg. whatshisname in House - that's good, that's improvement!) It would be nice to think that they could expand their horizons to bring an Aussie sitcom, totally as is, into their homes, and through watching, begin to gain a greater understanding of that country and its people, because it is through comedy, and through a people's ability to send themselves up, that you can sometimes gain a truer insight than any other way!

Why it is apparently possible for us to already do so in reverse I am not really sure.


Mr Wonderful and I have groaned for years at the inability of Americans to innovate or create artistically.
We have noted with sepair that American films and pop music is more and more "remakes" and Part 2, Part 3, etc.
Our apologies. No hiding behind the "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"- this stuff is piracy, and a shame to our culture.
Feel free to send Hollywood a bill.
I agree with you wholeheartedly Trace!

I cannot even begin to fathom how the redid The Vicar of Dibley or Red Dwarf, let alone George and Mildred!!!
Heh, what they need is to watch Hey Dad!, that will just confuse 'em even more - tee hee!

I remember watching late night tv once and a show came on that I swear I has seen before but didn't recognise it. Soon figured out it was the Coupling remake and I was gobsmacked at how bloody awful it was. Can't believe they tried it with This Life & Cracker as well!

Now, don't hate me T, but I have to say that I absolutely DETEST the original Office. Ricky Gervais just sets my teeth on edge, but recently I've seen a few episodes of the US Office and really quite like it. I find the humour more fitting to my mental calibre than the original.

Good US shows at the moment: Ugly Betty, Dexter, My Name Is Earl, House, Bones, Medium, Weeds, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, and a couple others.
couldn't believe some of the names on the Americanized list, lucky I haven't seen any of them (apart from a brief glimpse of the office which left me thinking what a crock)
Red Dwarf??? Dad's Army??? Fawlty Towers?????? Are you serious? *falls over*

Yeah I always laughed at shows such as Married With Children and never needed it to be Australianised.
I just don't watch American network tv anymore. We get BBC and that's where the thing stays. If a really good show does come on, it only lasts a season, then I can rent it from Netflix and watch without commercials.
What an enlightened little aussie you are!...not judging all Americans by impressions gathered from the media! Well done! Keep up the excellent work!
Gee, that's not patronising at all is it.... all from within the cloak of anonymity as well..

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