Television networks and streaming services are always scouring foreign production companies’ big hits and attempting to scoop up the rights and make their own version. Sometimes they end up with hits, like The Office, one of the most popular American shows of all time which was itself based on a British series that was equally popular (but not as long-running) in its home country. Reality competition shows like Dancing with the Stars and American Ninja Warrior (imports from the U.K. and Japan, respectively) are as inescapable as dramas like Homeland (based on Israeli series Prisoners of War) and Survivor (based on Swedish show Expedition Robinson).
But, sometimes—statistically, most of the time—foreign hits just don’t translate to American successes. Maybe the humor just doesn’t work, or the content isn’t something Americans are interested in, or a competition or sport that’s popular in another country just doesn’t break big over here. Whatever the reason, the history of TV is full of flop adaptations, as well as one or two just as awful successes, that remind us to think twice whenever we get the notion that what’s popular over there could take off over here. Some of these might be surprising—Did you know The Slap was originally an Australian show??—while others, like Coupling or The Inbetweeners, you may shudder to remember. We apologize in advance to any fans of The Good Doctor.
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