Having been raised by an English dad and a Welsh mother, I was effectively brought up on British television, with British crime drama in particular having always been a soft spot of mine. (Note: a recommended mandatory viewing list is included below – do yourself a favour and binge-watch all of them (plus more) at your earliest convenience.)
But what goes hand-in-hand with British television? U.S. remakes. Are they worth it? As you’ll soon see, I’m not too impressed. Whether its Broadchurch or The Office or even The Great British Bake-Off (a show so quintessentially British, its name even reflects that), America can’t seem to help itself when it comes to rehashing British shows. And a lot of the time, they don’t quite get it right. Why? As Ricky Gervais puts it, “Brits almost expect doom and gloom”, whereas “America rewards up front, on-your-sleeve niceness” – there is a very distinct difference between British and American television, and particularly between British and American humour. Therefore, when attempting to remake successful British shows, American producers actively try to recreate the same premise, but almost as if through rose-coloured glasses, in keeping with the light-hearted humour of the American market. In reviewing the American remake of The Great British Bake-Off, Brian Moylan writes that,
“the American amateur bakers do something their British counterparts would never do: they cheer… That expression of performed enthusiasm was exactly when I knew we were doomed”
As an additional note, many people within the television industry (from both sides of the Atlantic) argue over the necessity of remakes – Sue Turnbull discusses this at length in regards to Broadchurch, quoting Hank Stuever as saying,
“Why bother? It surely can’t get much better than it already is.”
For me, this accurately sums up much of the issue with U.S. television remakes – just like their rehashing of the English language, sometimes British is Best.
The Office (make sure to watch the UK version)