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December 8, 2022

F(l)o Show: Great Britain is never lacking in quality TV

By Florence Lau | March 14, 2013

On my list of Top Three Cities I Want to Live In Someday When I Have a Lot of Money, London, England gets the silver.

There are several reasons why London is so appealing to me. They have an awesome and efficient subway system, I could sit and listen to their accents all day, they have their own version of Broadway — West End — and of course, British television sometimes feels far superior to its American counterpart.

Just think about it. How many times have you heard that the American remake of this or that British show was absolute crap? Now, how about the opposite?

Face it. The British have us beat in television.

Of course, these are the people who gave us Doctor Who, the first episode of which aired on November 23, 1963. Yes, I typed that correctly. Doctor Who is gearing up for its fiftieth anniversary.

And this isn’t just some show that only the people from way back when know about. This is a show that is currently a giant hit in Great Britain, especially with teenagers and young adults. It has had two spinoffs within the last few years, and merchandise can be found everywhere you look.

I glanced at a list of longest running television shows in America, and over half of the top ten shows listed are news shows. The others are shows that don’t come to mind when one is asked to imagine American television.

(Unless you are actually a huge fan of Hallmark Hall of Fame and eagerly follow every episode, in which case I apologize for assuming otherwise.)

But either way, it’s hard to deny that British television, while maybe not inherently superior to our own, is something that everyone is beginning to sit up and notice, whether they are from Great Britain or not.

So what is it exactly that gives British television that flair that we’re missing in American shows?

Well, I can’t speak for all British programs, obviously, but in the British shows and miniseries that I have seen, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of will they-won’t they plots. Storylines revolve around characters who are more than their romantic story, and the main question isn’t when the two main characters will get together.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that kind of sexual tension, and I certainly watch a lot of shows that have that kind of plot.

But it’s always nice to settle down for an episode of Sherlock or Doctor Who or Life on Mars, where the main problem is solving crime, traveling through time and space or figuring out how to get back to the present after somehow waking up in 1973, respectively. Sure, there might be a romantic plot here and there in each of those shows, but it’s not usually the focus.

Also, has anyone realized the sheer amount of shows that the US has adapted from British shows? Skins? Originally British. Being Human? Originally British. Even something as popular as The Office? Also originally British.

I mean, really, it’s starting to get ridiculous. Is America incapable of coming up with original ideas? Judging from the number of shows we’ve borrowed from the British, there seems to be a dearth of creativity in the States.

I have nothing against taking mere inspiration from others. I just think that we should come up with some things by ourselves, even if our polite neighbors across the Atlantic Ocean don’t seem to mind.

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