Where’s the quality

In this week’s blog we will speak about Quality TV and how the demand for more content is leading to more shows in genre’s translating across borders. So what is quality television, well quality TV is sort of hard to define. Basically quality television is a genre or tv series that is deemed higher quality because of its subject matter, content, cinematography and complex narrative structures. Shows like the Sopranos have been called Quality TV because of these factors and networks such as HBO have built their identity on this idea of Quality TV.

Compared to last week where we watched reality tv shows, quality tv seemed to have a higher standard of polish and prestige. Reality Shows are not commonly considered quality tv because they do not have that type of prestige and don’t look at complex subject matter often.

Due to the rise of Streaming companies the need to create new and interesting tv series for people to watch has risen. Due to this many production companies have looked to import foreign TV shows to their country. Examples are plentiful, the Office has many different iterations including the original British Version, American Version, German Version and a Chilean Version. The show crossed many borders with varying levels of success. One of the most common transnational media partnerships is with the UK and the US. Shows like the Office, Inbetweeners and Shameless have all been remade to fit an American audience to varying levels of success. 

There are some common issues when it comes to translating a show across borders, for this I’ll be focusing on 2 TV shows previously mentioned above and how one worked and one didn’t and why. 

So the two shows are the Inbetweeners and Shameless. Both shows are different in some regards, shameless being more dramatical with comedic elements and Inbetweeners being a pure British comedy. The key word is British comedy, one of the main reasons the American Inbetweeners failed was because the Inbetweeners is a complete British comedy, many of the themes of the show are uniquely British and that reflects in the jokes. Also there is a main difference in British comedy compared to American which is UK comedy is subtle and believable while American style is more over the top. Most of British comedy is built upon cringe, the characters doing something embarrassing that is also somewhat realistic. Shameless was a faithful adaptation, carrying over the same themes. Both shows take place in areas of the respective country that are going through tough economical hardship. After season 1 the US version started to diverge from the UK one and become its own show. 

Both of these examples show the difficulties involved in translating quality tv across borders. As the need for more shows increases with media companies battling to get people’s eyes on their platforms it will become more and more common for quality tv to be spread across borders.


BCM 289 lecture Wk 3

Geraghty, C., 2003. Aesthetics and Quality in Popular Television Drama. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 6(1), pp.25-45.

Fuller, S., 2018. [online] Ses.library.usyd.edu.au. Available at: <https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/handle/2123/9556/fuller,s_thesis_2013.pdf;jsessionid=6BB921129E3E8102DC5DE9278A021181?sequence=1&gt; [Accessed 25 August 2021].

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