Now, before you get crazy, we’re not going to say The Office. In fact, there have been many television shows, including the aforementioned classic, that were adapted from foreign versions and have done great in America, or even been improved upon — American Idol began as the UK’s Pop Idol, Sanford and Son was originally a British hit called Steptoe And Son, and of course, the Columbian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea was remade as the great Ugly Betty. But for every successful American remake of another country’s show, there are five failed attempts — some of which are so bad they never even saw the light of day. Click through to see our list of ten foreign TV shows (yes, they’re mostly British originals, but that’s the trend in life as well as in our list) that America remade and totally ruined, and let us know your own major remake disappointments in the comments.
We all gaped when the pilot for the US remake of this British cult classic teen drama looked like it was almost recreated shot for shot. Though they did seem to follow most of our suggestions, from our standpoint the show looked harsher but was secretly much tamer than its UK counterpart. After a lot of hype that went nowhere and just one season, MTV cancelled the show, saying “Skins is a global television phenomenon that, unfortunately, didn’t connect with a US audience as much as we had hoped.”
Life on Mars
Though empirically the American version only of this science fiction/crime drama series ran one season shorter than its BAFTA-winning British counterpart, there were a lot of things amiss with the Americanization of this show, most glaringly the fact that the season ended abruptly with the worst plot idea ever. We won’t give it away, but let’s just say that if this adaptation is any evidence, Americans take things way too literally.
It’s Friends, only British! Sounds okay to us, we already have Friends, and this is not better. Though the US version basically worked off the exact same scripts as the UK version, the show tanked and was cancelled after four episodes. We can only chalk it up to subpar acting, and, oh yes, the fact that we already had a show that was exactly the same but better.
Man, they tried everything to make this show work in America. It was adapted three separate times, and failed miserably each go-around. First, Chateau Snavely starring Harvey Korman and Betty White, didn’t make it past the pilot (though we kind of think anything starring Betty White would today). Next was was Amanda’s starring Bea Arthur, which tried to change the main character into a woman. Last was a third remake called Payne, which only lasted about 8 episodes. Yikes.
Kath and Kim
The whole premise of this hit Australian show, at least on the surface, is that Kath and Kim are hilarious because they’re intensely awkward, Kim wearing too-tight clothing that her stomach is falling out of, and her mother Kath wearing the same outfits she’s been rocking since the ’80s. For our money, Selma Blair and Molly Shannon are both too attractive to really pull that concept off. However, with those actresses, the American version could have still been a great dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship show, but somehow it just wasn’t. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a contender for worst remake ever.” Ouch.
As far as we’re concerned, there’s no need for an American remake of this classic — everybody just watches the British version. And it looks like the industry agrees: one proposed remake was to be produced by Roseanne Barr and starring Carrie Fisher and Barbara Carrera, but that never went anywhere. Similarly, a pilot starring Kathryn Hahn as Eddy and Kristen Johnston as Patsywas greenlighted for Fox in 2009, but the show wasn’t picked up. There’s just nothing like the original.
The successful (and musical) British mystery drama Blackpool was remade as Viva Laughlin, in America, though the latter only lasted a pathetic two episodes. It was so bad that The New York Times wondered, “‘Viva Laughlin’ on CBS may well be the worst new show of the season, but is it the worst show in the history of television?” Pretty harsh, you guys.
Men Behaving Badly
The American remake of this beloved UK classic wasn’t as bad as most of those on this list — it made it a respectable 35 episodes — but it was still way worse than the original, which lasted six seasons and was much loved by all. We chalk it up to Rob Schneider being cast as a normal person. It’s just not his strong point.
Tiger of Money
This reality show, based on entrepreneurs pitching business ideas to possible investors, actually originated in Japan as “Manē no Tora” (Tiger of Money) was adapted by the BBC as Dragon’s Den and by ABC as Shark Tank — it’s also been remade by a zillion other countries. And hey — it’s on TV still! But no, it is not very good. We admit that we haven’t seen the original Japanese version, but we’re willing to bet it’s way better.
This remake of this cult classic should have been good — they even maintained the same actor for fan favorite Kryten — but it never passed muster with an American cast. The pilot was made, scrapped, re-casted and made again, but to no avail — no version of it was ever picked up.