American TV vs. British TV

American TV vs British TV
Who makes them better?

As a student, it’s pretty common for us to succumb to the stagnation of human movement and sit for hours’ binge watching tv shows (it’s almost a rule of nature). Lately for me it’s a continuous battle whether to watch more British television or more American television.
Maybe I’ve made myself more open to it than others but for me in recent years I find that the quality of TV originating from English broadcasting companies, predominantly BBC, are constantly improving the quality of TV that we’re looking for.

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Over the last few years, in majority, American script writers have lacked originality (I’m not saying they’re not of high quality). There has been a burst on the American streamline for everything and anything superhero, although I am a fan to most if not all of them, I do have a keen interest for watching something that is always different and unique. Nearly every network on the American agenda has a current or future development for a superhero television series (Take a look at the CW they have 4 ongoing series at the moment). What essentially seems to be the problem is that America has a stereotype or rather continuous dramatic plot lines. Example – how many takes of detective shows are there? We’ve got CSI, Hawaii Five-0, a few NCIS’, Criminal Minds, Castle, Lucifer … (My brain is spinning thinking of this many already).

Compared this to what’s being broadcast in the UK – for example the long running sci-fi series Doctor Who. It has been running from the 60’s with its revival in 2005 and is going strong since. While initially introduced to educate its audience on astronomy it brings together different creative elements that make it a masterpiece – horror, comedy, drama (who doesn’t love some of it) and the ability to open your mind to endless possibilities of secret civilizations, different worlds while also making its connection to the 21st century. I can’t think of an American tv show that does this, at least not off the top of my head! (Could argue your case for Supernatural!)

In the past, a few American networks have had countless takes on attempting to remake British TV and introduce it into the US and the failures certainly outweigh the success’.
Obvious failures include Little Britain, Skins, Misfits, The IT Crowd and The Inbetweeners. Very few have proven successfully including Shameless and The Office.

The main reason for this high failure rate (if the fact that America tried to remake Little Britain into “Little Britain USA” wasn’t the first clue) is that humour between the 2 nations are extremely different. Firstly, English humour (similar to Irish humour) embarks on a much more sometimes darker humour than expected, much of the time people take the absolute piss out of each other (translation = people spend much of their time mocking each other) especially to those you dislike but also there’s a tendency to do it to yourself.

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If it was obviously apparent from the GIF screenshot, this example of Sherlock backs up my point – and also, who played Sherlock better: Robert Downey Jr vs Benedict Cumberbatch? Obviously goes to Benedict Cumberbatch. The first mistake you’ve already made is if you’re aware of this incredible show and have put it on the back-burner (Please fix that immediately)

I also feel like “foul” language or cursing doesn’t seem appropriate for American shows – as I’ve come to know them as Cable and Network channels with Cable TV allowing for it up to a certain level. English TV, depending on the culture that is being depicted, the characters, and the overall form of the TV show you could have every character cursing maybe a dozen times in just one sentence (probably the reason why Misfits USA never went ahead)
I’m only rejoicing to the fact that America haven’t tried to disrupt the long-running sci-fi Doctor Who. Can’t imagine that being successful!

I think the most obvious way to describe the change in humour is comparing the two primary characters of the US Office, one of the successful remakes, and the UK Office – Michael Scott a more exuberant character who could still be childish compared to David Brent’s dark and narcissistic character.

In my opinion anyway, I do feel that the quality of tv and script writing in the UK market definitely trumps over the American market (probably because I’m Irish and I understand both extremely well while some American’s wouldn’t understand the writing or have a hard grasp on the accent). I also think that the repetitious storylines don’t help – but who knows? The market seemed to have moved away from teen drama/comedies (Dawson’s Creek / The OC / One Tree Hill / Gossip Girl etc.) from the early 2000’s to dominating superhero’s in 2016. Maybe something new will come in the not so distant future?!
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3 Comments

  1. Good article! Some great points made! David Brent Vs Michael Scott is a no-brainier – David Brent, hands down!

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