What does TV look like in other countries? Actually, it looks pretty similar, with dramas, comedies, and the ever-present soap opera. Yet sometimes, like in the case of these eight shows, they look reallysimilar. That’s usually because they’re clones, so to speak, of shows from the U.S. or U.K., tailored to a different country’s needs. This is nothing new, and the U.S. isn’t exempt from the practice. The U.S. is known to import foreign premises, cast American actors, and rework the scripts for an American audience; Big Brother was originally a Dutch show, while The Killing comes from Denmark. Countless others have been lifted from the U.K.
But who’s copying the U.S.? Plenty of people. And sometimes it gets a little weird…
Powerpuff Girls Z
The Powerpuff Girls, Cartoon Network’s trio of butt-kicking girls, got the anime treatment in their Japanese counterpart. The girls still retain their basic characters (smart, cute, tough), but they’re also given some more stereotypical anime girl characteristics like boy-craziness, love for sweets, and super-annoying noises. They’ve also grown up a bit, being preteens. Their origin story is also different, as well, and it conforms more to what Japanese audiences look for in animated shows.
Netherlands: Golden Girls
The show about the four sassy retirees was so popular that it actually spawned multiple international shows, including ones in Turkey, Russia, Spain, and Greece. The Dutch version, though, keeps the original “Thank You for Being a Friend” as its theme song, just with a Dutch translation.
It’s Always Sunny In Moscow
Yeah, not many people think of Moscow as being sunny. Also, it looks like Danny Devito’s character has been replaced with a woman, based on this poster. (She’s actually a version of The Waitress.) For a show that’s all about being as appalling as possible, the Russian version is quite a bit tamer due to the country’s censorship laws. So while binge drinking is okay, sex and questioning social conventions are not. They do give a nod to their source material though: instead of Paddy’s Pub, the gang runs a bar called Philadelphia.
Metastasis was a Spanish-language remake of the acclaimed Breaking Bad in which a chemistry teacher with cancer cooks meth to pay off his hospital bills, and, naturally, digs himself into a dangerous place. Everything is pretty much identical, down to the protagonist’s names: Walter White becomes Walter Blanco, and his wife, Skylar, becomes Cielo, Spanish for “sky.” Univision, who plans to distribute it across the U.S. and Latin America, seems to have made it a pretty faithful replica of the original, apparently hoping to bank on its success.
Belarus didn’t even try to mask the fact that they copied the premise, plots, and, in some cases, the complete scripts of The Big Bang Theory. Don’t worry, though; the nerds are just as annoying in any language.
This is Russia’s version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and follows much the same format of showing terrible movies (the upper left corner is a still from Manos: The Hands of Fate, one of the worst movies ever made) and providing snarky commentary. The premise is that a man is forced to watch awful B-movies for science, and he’s got some puppet friends. This series is actually fan-made, so it’s less an official series and more of an homage, just using movies from Russia and the surrounding area.
All of the Offices
The American Office with Steve Carrell is actually itself a ripoff of the U.K.’s original with Ricky Gervais. However, it’s been copied several times over in many countries. They include France, Germany, Quebec (not a country, but the show was broadcast in Quebecois, not English), Chile, and Israel.Apparently plans are in the works for more versions in other countries. Office banter and pettiness is pretty universal, and the show is open-ended enough to allow for cultural tweaks, so it stands to reason thatThe Office has been recycled so much.
Haft Sang is the Iranian version of Modern Family, although naturally, given Iran’s social climate, certain changes have been made. Instead of a gay couple, it’s a straight couple. Instead of dealing with teenage girls, the Iranian show switches them to boys. Dating is forbidden, so instead of a girlfriend, the son has a male best friend. All this to make sure the family is not too modern. None of that matters anyway, because everyone in Iran just watches illegal episodes of the actual Modern Family.
There are probably countless other shows out there that bear some uncanny resemblances to shows you know and love. However, in this age of instant information exchange, it seems like what we’re really seeing is that people all over the world have (almost) the same taste in entertainment.