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British vs American TV Series – Coupling

I have a thorn in my side and I’m going to blog about it. An entire series on why British TV rocks my socks and why Americans need to stop trying to recreate it.

There’s something about British TV that is so great, great in an entirely different way to anything we watch on American television.  It’s hard to describe… the humor is different, it’s more dry and requires a bit more brain power to pick up on. I guess it’s not as in your face and obvious as a lot of US shows.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of American TV I enjoy, but I just despise when they try to go out of their element and try to recreate something that they are just incapable of pulling off.

I love that the characters are more real. They live in real houses, have real friends and wear real clothes.  They don’t all live in fancy apartments or mansions, they don’t all have money and their storylines aren’t as outlandish and unrealistic.  It’s easier to relate to the characters on British TV because they are more like the average Joe, rather than seeming a world away from the viewers.

This irritation was kicked off recently when I saw an ad on Facebook boasting about Showtime’s Original Series, Shameless. Original series my ass!  This has been going on for NINE seasons in the UK, and much better too, I might add!  I will talk about Shameless later though.

I know that a lot of people on the other side of the pond don’t even realize that some of these shows were happening before they came into existence there, and that’s sad, because the originals are SO much better.  I think the most glaring example of this is Coupling.

The original series, and by that I mean the first one that actually existed, was in the UK, and it was fantastic, the American version. Not so much.

Let’s compare…


Well, that just says it all, doesn’t it?  There is no competition really…

I watched only one episode of the US version of Coupling and it was painful. Very very painful.  Mostly because of Jeff.  In the UK version he pretty much makes the show.  Anyone I’ve ever spoken to agrees that he is by far the best part of the series, because he’s funny and awkward in a way that none of us have ever seen in a television character before.  Here’s one example…

Now try to imagine some random American douchy actor trying to pull this off, because that’s pretty much what happened. It just does NOT work!  Without the OJ (Original Jeff) there is no way this show can be remade.  The program also relies heavily on a certain type of humor that also cannot be Americanized.

Ok, I won’t try to explain it any further, look for yourself…

See what I mean?

In some cases I think the American versions of British shows do ok because the American viewing audience has never experienced the real thing, but I don’t think that was the case with Coupling.  Even having never seen the British version, people still thought it sucked because I don’t think it even lasted an entire season.


If you’ve never heard of this show and have never watched it, search high and low until you find it.  The only way I can describe it is that it’s like Friends, only… better.

If you use BitTorrent you can download all four seasons here.

If you don’t use BitTorrent, umm, why not? No seriously, you can  watch it online here.

If you use newsgroups, you’re on your own I don’t know how to use those.

About Tammy

A Canadian living in France with her Dutch hubby after 17 years in the Netherlands. A total TV and movie junkie who is never not knitting. She also enjoys other crafts, nail art, cuddling her dogs and general geekery. Otherwise just working on getting by and making a life for herself in her ‘new’ country.

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  1. Hi! Somebody has the above video (UK vs US, 9:43)??? I loved it because it shows that the american version is awful… I need this video, but it’s not on the youtube anymore. :( If somebody has it please send me via email. Many Thanks!!!! :)

  2. I’m American and I agree totally. I’m very upset the powers that be are going to create an American version of Dr. Who and Being Human! I will not be watching!

  3. When I was breastfeeding Cavan a friend lent me all the seasons of Coupling and I loved them!!
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  4. I like both versions of Life On Mars, except the ending (last few shows) of the US version. I totally agree with Stu on that one, the US writers missed the point completely.
    It must be because of their need to wrap everything up into this nice little package at the end and spoon feeding it to the audience :)

    • I really must watch the rest of the UK version and then the US one. I want to see what all this business is about the ending!

  5. Oh dear good. That’s bad. I knew off it but I’d never watched a full clip of the American version.

    You’re still interested in seeing what they did to Red Dwarf it’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1uTqA9jWWE

    And then there is the horror of the Life on Mars US ending. Don’t worry, it won’t spoil anything for you in the UK version because they so totally miss the point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxI_UwYThgU
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    • I’ve not seen the British version of Red Dwarf so I’d have to check that out first to get the real impact. Oh and thanks for the reminder about Life On Mars, I still need to finish that one. I have to check out the US one too because the main guy is playing one of my favorite characters in a film adaptation of my favorite book series. He better be good!

  6. Totally agree. I fear that the humour of US sitcoms is the competition based “Room” writing style, where the writers compete for standing amongst each other and have to write for 26 weeks worth of shows. A typical UK series is only 6 episodes, and often written by two or three close friends who craft things until it is perfect. The Office (UK)… Fawlty Towers… Porridge… Just three that are all worth watching over and over again as the jokes never seem get old.

    Cheers matey, proper agree with you on this one!

    • You are probably right about what goes on behind the scenes with the writers. I’m sure for a lot of them they are probably frustrated with how they need to cater to the American public as well. With the British shows they sort of just go with what they think is funny and if people don’t like it, tough shit.

      I’ve actually never watched Fawlty Towers or Porridge. I’ll have to check them out.

      What’s funny is, I love British television on the whole, but I HATE the kind of humor like in Monty Python. To me, that’s the Britsh version of things like Naked Gun, which I also hate.

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