The Inbetweeners is quintessentially English. Like never ending cups of tea and scones with cream and jam or cricket. It specialises in that brand of British humour that is not afraid to poke fun at the English way of life and have a good laugh while doing it.
The show is another of those ‘young adult’ (that’s really spelt teenager) programs that Channel 4 does so well. Their initial success with the teen drama Skins prompted them to make Misfits (as a summer replacement) a science fiction comedy drama of errors which dealt with a group of ‘social outcast’ teens on community service for crimes like stealing pick n mix sweets and fighting in public.
Misfits proved to be as popular as Skins and is now in its third season. What all these programs have in common besides their age specific casts and target demographics, is they are all specifically English. They are written by, about, for an English audience primarily so they focus on either dramatic or comical issues specific to their country and people.
They all work extremely well, although I will admit that I have never been nor will I ever be a fan of Skins. Call me anal, go ahead it won’t upset me, but a show dedicated to drug taking, sex and the exploits of teenage chavs doesn’t interest me.
Misfits was television comedy/drama gold. The perfect mix of pathos and humour and teen vulnerability. I adored this show right up until the end of series two. Season three started (and finished, with me at any rate) when they had to replace Nathan, played by the immensely talented Robert Sheehan who went on to do more in the film world. It never felt the same after that.
If Misfits was television gold, then the sitcom The Inbetweeners was platinum. This show which focused on the four socially inadequate lads who were on the eternal search for their Holy Grail of girls, sex, and fun hit the comedic nail firmly on it’s head.
I’m not going to go into great detail about plot or who the main characters are, for that just follow the link The Inbetweeners and IMDb will give you all the information you need. Or conversely just type the show’s name into the YouTube search bar and you can watch episodes of the show.
What I am going to do is pull my hair and rend my clothes in despair at the show’s most recent development. The Inbetweeners is going rogue and immigrating to the US. To be more exact the show is being re-made for the American market.
I know there is a long standing ‘tradition’ of English sitcoms being remade in it’s American cousin’s image. All in the Family, Three’s Company and Sanford and Son all started their sitcom lives as English comedy television programs. *If you are interested here are the original English titles of the above mentioned programs in order: Till Death do us Part, Man About the House and Steptoe and Son.*
What all these ‘successful’ remakes had in common was the connecting fact of the US version being completely re-written for it’s intended market. The American public. They took the story lines and ‘Americanised’ them. Changing dialogue and plot devices to fit the ‘new’ audience. It worked extremely well for the television audiences of the 1970’s.
Sadly, recent attempts to repeat these early successes have ended in complete failure. Take for example the Americanisation of Absolutely Fabulous starring Jennifer Saunders, Johanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha and June Whitfield. This un-pc comedy ran from 1994 to 2004 and there is and ‘Ab Fab‘ film slated for 2013. This show was another comedy platinum poster child of what a hysterically funny sitcom should be.
Absolutely Fabulous was bought and transferred state side. It was promptly renamed Ab Fab and just as promptly died. The reason given was that their intended audience just didn’t get it. The rumour? Well, the rumour was that they didn’t rewrite the dialogue or rework the plot devices and the end result of this was a swift and messy death.
The award laden Skins suffered the same fate as Ab Fab. Audience’s didn’t get it and it crawled away whimpering after just ten episodes. Misfit’s is also slated for remaking and should be out this year.
Now The Inbetweeners is facing the same fate. My daughter and I watched a trailer for the new US version and it is identical to the hysterically funny original. The trailer has American teenagers talking like English teenagers, one even says, “Piss off!” Now the last time I was in the US (last year if you’re interested) US teens did not use that phrase. The trailer also shows that the program will also be using the same plot devices as the original.
I predict a swift and dirty death for this latest American television conversion. They need to look at the past (in particular the 70’s) and see how it should really be done. The jury is obviously still out for the US Misfit’s, which I am very dubious about. Misfit’s is sort of a bargain basement version of the American show Heroes, so why they want to make it sort of confuses me.
If the show’s American “creators” cannot be bothered to do the US version the courtesy of just changing the dialogue it will fail. Because the dialogue, plots devices and stories are all English right down to the characters sex, girls and fun seeking toes.
- ‘The Inbetweeners’ Trailer Recalls the (Funny) Pains of Adolescence – VIDEO (hollywood.com)
- Hollywood version of The Inbetweeners film ‘planned’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Film: Newswire: The Inbetweeners will get some sort of American movie remake (avclub.com)
- US version of The Inbetweeners looks Spaced out | Media Monkey (guardian.co.uk)
- Will ‘The Inbetweeners’ get lost across the Atlantic? (independent.co.uk)
- The Inbetweeners – The Inbetweeners To Be Given American Makeover (contactmusic.com)