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    9 Times America Failed To Remake A British TV Show, And 10 Times It Was Almost Better Than The Original

    Because life is really about that balance.

    We all know that when a TV show is a hit, it's likely to be copied around the world – but when it comes to US versions of UK shows, the phrase "hit and miss" has never been more appropriate.

    @brittany_broski / Via TikTok

    Here are 10 acclaimed American versions of British shows, and 9 remakes that we'd rather were never attempted in the first place.

    1. I think we can all agree that the US remake of The Office is one of the most adored comedies of the noughties.

    NBC

    The series is based on an earlier British sitcom of the same name, created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Though critics panned the first season, subsequent seasons won critical acclaim and in 2016, Rolling Stone named the series one of the 100 greatest television shows of all time!

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    2. But an American version of Gavin & Stacey should never have been attempted – much less three times!

    BBC

    After airing in North America, several US networks were interested in adapting the iconic British series for an American audience. ABC produced a pilot but the series was not picked up. A later Fox remakeUs & Them starring Alexis Bledel, made 13 episodes but none of them actually made it to air!

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    3. Even fans of the original show love what Showtime did with its adaptation of Shameless.

    Showtime

    John Wells swapped Manchester for the South Side of Chicago when he created the US version of Shameless. The characters and stories seemed to translate seamlessly, and critics raved about the series. As of 2021, Shameless is Showtime's longest running show of all time. ALSO, #Gallavich 4 lyf!!!

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    4. But the US version of Skins was just too painful to watch.

    E4

    MTV's take on sexy British teen drama Skins was pretty much a carbon copy of the original, and the series was cancelled after one season. Despite amassing 1.2 million viewers for its finale, brands didn't want to run ads alongside it – the show having been accused of promoting child pornography due to the fact that most of its main cast were under the age of 18.

    And with lines like, "Stanley, I only like really great narcotics, understand?", I can't help but feel this was the right decision.

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    5. The American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? definitely captured the humour of the British original.

    The CW

    The classic improv-based game show ran on Channel 4 in the UK from 1988-1999, and in 1998, a US version began airing on ABC. The series was nominated for several Primetime Emmy Awards, with comedian Wayne Brady winning for his performance in 2003. The show was recently revived for The CW with Aisha Tyler taking over from Drew Carey, and will premiere its eighteenth season next month!

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    6. But while the Absolutely Fabulous US cast was tight, it just didn't sparkle like the UK version.

    BBC

    The idea for a US remake of the brilliant '90s sitcom originally came from Roseanne Barr, who hoped to cast Carrie Fisher and Barbara Carrera in main roles, but it never materialised. A later version for Fox was announced in 2008 with Kathryn Hahn as Eddy, Kristen Johnston as Patsy, and Zosia Mamet as Saffron all living in LA instead of London, but it didn't make it past the pilot.

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    Queer as Folk translated perfectly to US screens.

    Showtime

    The groundbreaking Russell T Davies drama caught the eye of American network channel Showtime, and Canadian channel Showcase, who co-created a version set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The series soon became the number one show on Showtime, proving a hit especially with LGBTQ+ viewers and straight women!

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    7. But I'll tell you what didn't translate – The Inbetweeners.

    E4

    Infamously, the US remake of the much adored British coming-of-age comedy did not resonate across the Atlantic, and low ratings caused MTV to cancel the series after just one season. Personally – and no shade to Simon Bird β€“ I think the issue was that Joey Pollari is wayyy too attractive to play a convincing Will.

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    8. It's hard to imagine a world without American Idol.

    Fox / ABC

    The ubiquitous singing contest began life as a spin-off of the British series Pop Idol, which ran from 2001 to 2003. While Pop Idol died a death here in the UK and was quickly superseded by The X-Factor, American Idol has become a stalwart of American television, and has helped launch the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson to name a few.

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    9. But I wish I lived in a world where I didn't know there was a US remake of my beloved The IT Crowd.

    Channel 4

    Who doesn't love The IT Crowd!? I guess that's why NBC ended up making two pilots for an American version of the work-based sitcom – one starring Joel McHale, Jessica St. Clair, and Rocky Carroll, with Richard Ayoade reprising his role as Moss. Unfortunately, the pilot didn't impress NBC chairman Ben Silverman, and it was scrapped. In 2017, NBC was apparently working with Graham Linehan on a third attempt at a remake, but nothing has been announced yet.

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    10. Some say that Love Island USA is better than the British progenitor.

    CBS

    In 2018, CBS announced it would be airing the first season of Love Island USA, a replica of the hugely popular British reality dating series. Hosted by Arielle Vandenberg, the show premiered its third season this year at around the same time as the UK series.

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    11. But why – WHY – did the USA attempt a remake of The Vicar of Dibley???

    BBC One

    So this one doesn't even have a clip I can show you! But you can imagine JUST how bad it was based on the logline alone: a former wild child returns to her hometown to become its first female minister. Starring Kirstie Alley in the titular role, The Minister of Divine aired on Fox was not picked up for a series.

    #THT Theatric Thursday - 2007 the pilot for β€œThe Minister Of Divine” series premieres. Award-winning actress and producer @kirstiealley Instagram: kirstiealley #KirstieAlly

    Twitter: @WmNostalgiaFest

    12. Steptoe and Son may have birthed the American icon that is Sanford and Son.

    NBC

    The '70s sitcom borrowed the concept of a squabbling father and son from its popular British counterpart, but changed the race of its central characters, becoming one of the first Black sitcoms in America. Sanford and Son was a ratings hit throughout its entire run, consistently showing up in the top ten of the Nielsen ratings. In 2007, Time named it of the best 100 TV shows of all time.

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    13. But our US friends could never really nail the humour of classic British comedy Fawlty Towers.

    BBC Two

    The iconic John Cleese vehicle was remade in the US several times, but even with legends like Bea Arthur and Betty White on board, it just didn't pop off. ABC first produced a pilot starring Betty called Chateau Snavely, but it wasn't picked up; a later series named Amanda's starring Bea did air ten episodes, but failed to capture an audience. A third remake – Payne – also aired but was cancelled after eight episodes.

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    14. Dancing With The Stars is just as much a national favourite as its British inspo, Strictly Come Dancing.

    ABC

    A prominent member of the Dancing with the Stars international television franchise, the American dance competition series has huge following, and has attracted celebrity participants from Simone Biles to Buzz Aldrin. It's currently on its 30th season, which premiered this month with Tyra Banks as the host.

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    15. But there's a reason why you've never heard of Beacon Hill, the US adaptation of 1970s British drama, Upstairs, Downstairs.

    PA Images / Via Getty Images

    After the success of Upstairs, Downstairs β€“ without which we wouldn't have the likes of Downton Abbey – American writers and producers were keen to do either a spin-off or a remake for a US audience. Unfortunately, the series they made was too scattered for viewers to comprehend, and it was cancelled after 12 episodes with two episodes left un-aired. Again, I can't find a clip online for this one – sorry!

    Ken Howard / CBS

    16. House of Cards was a runaway hit when it was remade for Netflix with a majority American cast.

    David Giesbrecht/Netflix

    The original British House of Cards was a four-part political thriller set just after the Margaret Thatcher years. The American remake was the first show to ever be produced by a studio for Netflix, and would go on to be nominated for 33 Primetime Emmys – a first for OTT content. It also garnered further acclaim at the Golden Globes whilst building a loyal fanbase.

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    17. But while there were sparks of greatness, Call Me Kat wasn't nearly as clever as 2010s Britcom Miranda.

    BBC Two

    While The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik was a good choice for the role of awkward every-woman Kat, this glossy remake doesn't at all compare to the original – which is about as "British" a sitcom as you can get! Despite receiving mostly negative reviews from critics, Call Me Kat was renewed by Fox in May 2021, so here's hoping the show develops its own sense of humour Γ  la The Office.

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    18. And finally, who doesn't love a good episode of Veep – the American adaptation of hilarious British series, The Thick of It?

    HBO

    Armando Iannucci struck gold again when he turned his British political sitcom The Thick of It into a satire for American audiences. Throughout its run, Veep – starring comedy heavyweight Julia Louis-Dreyfus – won several major awards including 17 Emmys, two Television Critics Association Awards, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards.

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    Do you agree with my assessments? Let me know in the comments below!

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