Monday, September 12, 2011

American Remakes

I don't mean to keep up a streak of posts about British television but since I'm a little behind on the times, I recently heard about another popular British show getting an American makeover. I had to watch The Inbetweeners for my British Youth Culture class in London and was immediately hooked. The show features vulgar comedy as it follows four teenagers who are "inbetween" social groups, and puts an original spin on the obvious story lines of alcohol, sex and school. It has also just been made into a movie of the same name that came out inthe UK and will be out here very soon. Two years ago ABC tried and failed to give the show a pilot but now MTV is giving it a shot. However, MTV recently cancelled their last attempt at a remake after the small disaster that was Skins.
I understand that the stations are in a position to make more money if they remake these shows instead of just buying the rights to the British versions and airing them on their channels. But because the UK is much less censored when it comes to television, the shows lose a lot of their original comedy and it really simplifies the characters when they come to an American screen. British television is much more candid about sex and openly shows nudity and drug use to a somewhat young audience. But in America, I believe that parents are more involved in what their children watch on TV and seem to be more comfortable in protesting against shows that they fear are a bad influence on their children's actions. An MTV spokesman, David Janollari, is very optimistic stating, "The Inbetweeners is unique and simply hilarious. It will resonate immensely with out viewers". However, he later says that the show has a very authentic voice and in successfully adapting it to a US audience, they are making it into a "quintessentially American suburban experience" and therefore changing the show's premise.
While there have been successful remakes, such as The Office, I feel like shows that air on channels such as E4 and Channel 4 in Britain will not have a good survival rate in their American counterparts. I think it will be difficult for MTV to get around the main focus on sex and the language that is much more comfortably used in British television. I also think that the rate they are churning out remakes will hurt them more then help them. The cancellation of Skins in still fresh in everyones mind and The Inbetweeners should be out early 2012 followed by a remake of Misfits.

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