7 TV Shows Lost in American Translation

     June 4, 2016


In an age where the television we watch is becoming increasingly international — both in terms of Americans shows being remade and distributed in other countries and in terms of foreign TV shows being remade and distributed in America — there are some TV shows that make the transition from one country to another more smoothly than others.

For every The Office, there is a Life on Mars. Actually, for every foreign TV show that is successfully remade within an American context, there are many foreign TV shows that are terribly remade within an American context. (Often because American broadcasters don’t even try to put the imports into an American context, rather hoping the same cultural formula will work the same way here as it did in its original culture.)

Remaking TV shows is all about striking that balance between recreating the elements of the original program that made it resonate with viewers, while also recognizing that there will be changes that need to be made to accommodate the new time or place the remake will be broadcast in — or, you know, changes that need to be made because what’s the point of remaking something if it is the exact same thing?

Here are seven examples of American TV shows remade from successful European TV shows that couldn’t quite figure out that formula, ultimately losing something integral in their American translation: