TV shows often go awry when remade in the US



The special relationship between the United States and Great Britain implies a strong cultural exchange.

Britain gave us the Spice Girls, and we produced the Pussycat Dolls. They created Amy Winehouse and Adele, and we shared with them Ke$ha and Katy Perry. Britain is the land of “Harry Potter,” and the United States is the land of “Twilight.” Simply put, it isn’t a fair trade.

In a similar vein MTV remade Britain’s hit show “Skins.” The original program attained almost legendary status for its willingness to explore topics such as drug addiction, sex, race and homosexuality with remarkable frankness, yet the American version is bad despite that it was developed by its original creators.

The pilot episode of MTV’s “Skins” used the exact script as its U.K. pilot, simply changing the names and genders of the characters. The dialogue used the same British slang, which comes off as disingenuous, and the acting is inferior.

“The acting was good in the U.K. version so [viewers] accepted the hyperbole that was clearly present,” said junior Allison Norris, with whom I watch the show every week. “Because the actors made it feel so effortless, we suspended our disbelief. The acting [on MTV’s version] is like a high school drama project.”

So what can one do when so many American counterparts are simply of lesser quality? As the imaginative and always original American networks have started doing, one can always just remake British television programs. Unfortunately, there is only one memorable show from among the bunch: NBC’s “The Office,” which, honestly, is losing steam. If British television can air American shows like “The West Wing” and “Mad Men” without remaking them, why can’t American networks reciprocate?

My mother is particularly offended by Syfy’s “Being Human.” A fan of the original U.K. show, she calls every week to rant about how bad the American version is, but just like with any train wreck, she can’t look away. Her major complaint is that the dialogue liberally stolen from the British version simply doesn’t work in an American-set show, but even more egregious is the fact that it is completely devoid of humor.

Of all British imports, however, “Skins” is a pathetic attempt and needs to be canceled, not for its sexual content and drug use, but simply because it’s terrible.

Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at