7 British shows that were remade in America

2018-10-19 13:54
A scene in the series Camping

Cape Town - Did you know that these much-hyped US shows started life as lesser-known series in the UK?

Even the anglophiles among us will have to admit that the Americans didn’t do too bad a job. The US versions are all available to stream on Showmax, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

1. HBO’s Camping (Showmax)

Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, who brought us Girls, have remade the 2016 British comedy series about a control freak who plans an outdoorsy trip for her husband’s 45th birthday. In this HBO version of the show, Jennifer Garner plays pathologically controlling Kathryn, David Tennant plays her long-suffering husband Walt, and an excellent ensemble cast makes up the rest of the group. 

Critics have praised Juliette Lewis’ performance in particular - as the hippie Jandice, she has “space to have fun with the role in a way that transcends the potential typecasting” (Spin). New episodes land on Showmax every Monday, express from the US.

2. Shameless (Showmax)

From the Chatsworth council estate in Manchester to the South Side of Chicago, this by turns heartbreaking and hilarious series follows the trials and tribulations of the hand-to-mouth Gallagher family. Their prospects are continuously hampered by the family patriarch Frank, who is only interested in his offspring if they can help him get his next fix. 

When it comes to plot, the US version is loyal to the original series for the first two seasons and then goes off on its own entertaining tangents. However critically acclaimed the UK series may be, it missed out on the magnificence of Emmy Rossum as eldest child Fiona. Seasons 1 to 6 are on Showmax.

3. HBO’s Veep (Showmax)

Based on the British series The Thick of It, this award-winning smash-hit series sees Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing the massively incompetent, unfathomably egotistical Selina Meyer, the Vice President of the United States. Anna Chlumsky and Tony Hale, who play Selena’s dedicated staffers, are a joy to watch, and Louis-Dreyfus is unrivalled in the number of consecutive Emmy Awards she’s won for her role. 

But there’s no denying that Veep wouldn’t be what it is today without the biting and very British satire of The Thick of It, which was first broadcast in 2005. The first six seasons of Veep are on Showmax, and the seventh and final season has been slated to air in the US in 2019.

4. HBO’s Getting On (Showmax)

Another HBO series that was originally conceived in the UK, Getting On follows the well-meaning but weary staff at a down-and-out state hospital. The British show saw Jo Brand as nurse Kim Wilde, and was directed by Peter Capaldi (who plays the Twelfth Doctor in Seasons 9 and 10 of Doctor Who, now on Showmax). 

The American version of the series stars Laurie Metcalf as the socially inept Dr Jenna James, who is as oblivious to her offensiveness as Selina Meyer is in Veep. Just like the British show, the spin-off features a male supervising nurse with a woman’s name (Patsy in the HBO version, Hilary in the original), and manages to find moments of hilarity even in these dire settings. 

5. Mistresses (Showmax)

Both the UK original and the American series follow four thirtysomething friends as they navigate their way through illicit and complex relationships. Alyssa Milano stars in the US remake, which was favourably compared to Sex and the City by critics when it was first released in 2013. It’s a saucy dose of fun, and all four seasons are available for your next girls night on Showmax.

6. House of Cards (Netflix)

If you never watched this political thriller, the original Netflix Original, and the first show that the streaming service published all in one go, you have missed out on a major cultural moment. Even those boycotting lead actor Kevin Spacey, who plays ruthless Congressman Frank Underwood and who was fired from the show late last year, should give it a chance, if only for the opportunity to see Robin Wright in a Golden Globe-winning role as his wife Claire. 

The show was based on the award-winning, classic 1990 British miniseries, set at the end of Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister.

7. The Office (Amazon Prime)

Ricky Gervais stars in the British original of this mockumentary as the odious main character, regional manager of a paper company, David Brent. He wrote and directed the original along with Stephen Merchant, and the pair were executive producers of the American series, and also wrote the pilot. 

The original Office had only two seasons and two Christmas specials, while the American show, starring Steve Carell as Michael Scott, went on for nine seasons, even after Carell left the show in Season 7. This is the series that made household names of John Krasinski, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms, BJ Novak and Ellie Kemper, with Novak and Kaling also having served as writers, producers and directors. 

Both versions of the mockumentary won a slew of awards, and feature some of the most hysterically gif-worthy moments you’ll ever see on TV. The box set of the US Office is available on Amazon Prime.

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