10 Foreign Remakes of American TV Shows Very Different Than the Original

The U.S. is known (and probably not in a good way) for taking other countries' popular shows and turning them into something much less palatable for American audiences. There have been several successes, including some that you probably don't realize weren't ours to begin with, but a large percentage of the foreign shows are ruined when we import them. Have you ever wondered which U.S. TV shows have been botched in a similar way — or at the very least, turned into a weird, localized version of the program we knew? Many of our shows are just dubbed for foreign viewers, but some lucky series got recreated or edited beyond recognition.

  1. Happy Together

    When you think of your favorite U.S. sitcoms in the last few decades, Married … With Children probably isn't at the top of your list. But this show has been remade all around the world: Argentina to Armenia, Germany to the UK. The Russian version, called Happy Together, was an incredible success, probably even more liked than the original was in its home country. After just a year on the air, the show was the most popular scripted series on TV among the 18- to 30-year-old demographic. Happy Together plays on the same outrageous, middle-class humor as the U.S. version and followed similar scripts through most of the series, but the Russian version is different in that it actually became its own show, with viewers submitting ideas for new episodes and Russian writers (as well as a few Married … With Children writers) brought new life to the Bundys, er, Bukins.

  2. Law & Order: UK

    It's amazing to see just how different the multiple foreign remakes of Law & Order (and its unnecessary American spinoffs) are despite the fact that they all revolve around the same concept and basic plotline each episode. If you've ever tuned into Law & Order: UK thinking it'll be just like the American one with different accents, you probably realized that the customs that surround each country's laws and keeping order really change the show. Laws, sentences, and the whole judicial process are so varied that each nation's series is really its own. In England, for example, the judges and lawyers wear wigs. If that doesn't mutate the show drastically, nothing will.

  3. Al Shamshoon

    The Simpsons clan, while it may have become a picture of the all-American family, isn't exactly what you would imagine as ideal entertainment in the Middle East. The culture that The Simpsons seems to make fun of in each episode is often the direct opposite of the way people live in the Arab world. Nevertheless, Dubai's MBC station remade the family into Omar and Mona Shamshoon with a son named Badr. Of course, so many of the show's staples were lost in the making, with Homer drinking soda instead of beer, never going to Moe's since it's a bar, and getting rid of Krusty's rabbi dad. Unsurprisingly, it didn't catch on.

  4. My Wonderful Nanny

    The Former Soviet has made a big business out of taking '90s shows from the U.S. and turning them into popular prime-time TV for the modern-day Russian. This localized remake of The Nanny ran through all of the original episodes and then involved original American writers to help create more. The main difference between this show and the U.S. sitcom — and it's a big one — is the absence of Fran Drescher. In the titular role, she had the power to draw viewers in or annoy them to tears, with the latter being more likely. Maybe that's a reason the Russian version performed so well.

  5. How I Met Your Mother

    A zany sitcom about six friends living through their crazy 20s is just what Russia ordered. Of course, they didn't quite have the budget to pull it off as well as CBS' original How I Met Your Mother probably deserves. The promo that circulated the Internet last year made it clear that they were using the same characters and bar hangout as the American version, but it all seems just a little bit off. Barney's character (we can only assume they chose some awesome Russian names for our HIMYM friends) seems a little bit too old to be hanging out with the group of young adults, especially with his creepy behavior that Neil Patrick Harris himself can barely pull off. The new Marshall seems to be relegated to playing the goofy guy with bad hair. And those kids don't seem old enough to be hearing about the sexual exploits of their own dad. Maybe children mature faster in Russia.

  6. Geordie Shore

    If there is one show that most Americans probably wish would just die off, it's MTV's Jersey Shore. When it was announced that the show was being remade in the UK, it made us all wonder, "Is there really another group of people as ridiculous as the one in New Jersey?" MTV chose Newcastle, a town known for its huge nightlife, and they certainly got closer to the original than we hoped was possible. There's no duplicating Jersey Shore, though. Geordies, as they're called, live in a cold climate, though none of them wear coats (or much else) and they all manage to keep up their tans much like the Jersey cast. They speak in a dialect that's almost a totally different language, but unlike with the Jersey accent, most people prior to the show felt that the accent made them seem friendlier and more trustworthy. The main difference: no Snooki. What's a shore without her?

  7. Everybody Loves Kostya

    Though Russia may have taken some of our slightly less popular shows and turned them into gold, they had trouble with one of America's favorites: Everybody Loves Raymond. Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal went to Russia to help them create their own version and discovered that their sense of humor really wasn't the same as the American audience. The studio's head of comedy told Rosenthal that he didn't think the show was funny, and during production, Rosenthal had to try to tone down the slapstick humor, since apparently Russians think it's hilarious to see a guy kicked in the nuts. Despite casting actors that look very similar to the original, Everybody Loves Kostya just didn't turn out as well as Raymond. You can see why in Rosenthal's documentary, Exporting Raymond.

  8. Powerpuff Girls Z

    The Cartoon Network series The Powerpuff Girls featured adorable kindergarten-aged superheroes who dealt with silly situations involving evil villains and growing up. The show was known for its use of humor and references to old American pop culture. Japan's anime version of the show involves the same main characters (plus some new ones) but they're all grown up. Well, almost. These Powerpuff Girls are in seventh grade and use weapons rather than just their adorable super powers. Much of the history of the girls has changed in the Japanese version — they're no longer sisters, they weren't created in a lab, and their cute but despicable nemesis monkey Mojo Jojo didn't start out as a lab assistant. And let's be honest: the show doesn't have the same kick without the ridiculous pop culture nods.

  9. The Apprentice UK

    How can you have The Apprentice without Donald Trump? The best that British producers could do was bringing on Sir Alan Sugar, also known as Lord Sugar or Baron Sugar of Clapton. Sure, he sounds important, but does he have entertainingly bad hair? The answer is no. The concept of the British show is the same and much like the U.S. version, it evolved into a spinoff where celebrities compete for charity. But the show changed throughout the series, with one season's prize being an investment in a business the winner would create, shared 50/50 with Sugar. Those Brits just always have to change things up, don't they? They should be fired.

  10. 24

    It may be the perfect time for India to introduce their own version of the butt-kicking show 24 since they recently announced the approval of a new National Counter-Terrorism Centre. But there's no doubt that the Indian version of 24, which producer Anil Kapoor bought the rights to in late 2011, will be a totally different experience than the American version (below). Jack Bauer is the prototypical American hero, protecting the nation and its interests sometimes using questionable methods. Though no videos of the new version have been leaked (yet), there's no doubt that the Indian Bauer will do things a little bit differently and that the threats faced will be considerably changed to make it more realistic for the local audience.

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