Entertainment can cross borders and cultures, Hollywood movies are proof of that. But what about television shows. Some shows are so culturally significant and centred on one specific place that they are sure to fail if they are adapted to suit the cultural values of another country. A perfect example of this is Kath & Kim, which was hugely successful in Australia, but when America attempted to adapt the content to reflect the US demographic it failed dismally to the point where the studio did not bother making another series after the first.
This is a short video from the Australian version of Kath & Kim.
The failure of this show displays how different cultures can have very different perceptions of what is humour and how a show about irony can be transformed. These kinds of cultural differences are usually between eastern and western cultures, but as seen with Kath & Kim, disparity between western cultures is also apparent. Reviews about the show outlined that it was the writers’ lack of adaptation that resulted in the demise of the US attempt at Kath & Kim.
This is an advertisement for the American version of Kath & Kim.
Kath & Kim is an example of how a show can succeed in one country and fail in another, but are there any success stories? One of the most well-known successes of adaptation would be Ugly Betty. Jade L. Miller states in her article, “Ugly Betty goes Global: Global networks of localised content in the telenovela industry”, that the show is successful because:
“…the telenovela as a cultural product that is successful because of its appeal on both the local and global level, and as an economic product traversing a global industry.” (2010).
This video shows a few of the different cultures that have successfully adapted this show to suit their own cultural values and reflect their society. The success of Ugly Betty demonstrates how comedy can cross borders and thrive.
What other shows have failed or succeeded when re-made in other countries?