Television in Translation: Drama Focus

When you think about it, most drama TV remakes are remade by Americans from British originals for example, Sherlock, Skins, The Office, House of Cards, The Inbetweeners and Life on Mars. Why is this so?

Sometimes, the US remakes can be a bit of a flop like Skins, but sometimes they work like Elementary and The Office. Like comedy shows, drama shows depend on cultural and national characteristics. America is notoriously know for Hollywood therefore a lot of their shows have a lot of dramatic theatrical impact. A lot of their crime shows are, like CSI, heavily rely on dramatic music, love twists and overall epic hollywood qualities. Whereas the British stick true to the storyline and tend not to over dramatise or overcomplicate it.

Moffat and Gatiss, who created the British drama Sherlock which aired in 2010, were originally fans of Sherlock Holmes so when creating the drama, they stuck true to it’s original themes. Holmes still lives at 221b Baker St, London. Black cabs swapped for hansom cabs, nicotine patches for Holmes’ original pipe, and a modern version of the homeless network all appear. The original narrative is preserved as much as possible. Holmes has issues with drugs, cares for very few people in his personal life, and has no sexual partners or love interests apart from The Woman. Sherlock does not generally make any room for people of colour or gender equality whereas the American Elementary, makes room for equality. Joan Watson is played by Lucy Lui and is extremely respected and as well for being an intellectual woman. Rather than playfully belittling his partner the way that Cumberbatch’s version is frequently known for, Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock holds Watson in an esteem that is expressed outwardly to her, and to their colleagues.

Skins US was not as successful as the UK original. America was very critical of the show for being too raunchy and for showing child pornography as some of the actors were under 18. The UK series though was even more raunchy than the US. So why did the US make such a fuss? I think it comes down to different countries culture.

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