Recently, the Fox network announced their fall 2013 lineup. One of the programs that stood out was Us & Them (2013), because it’s a remake of a very popular British comedy called Gavin & Stacey (2007). Us & Them stars Rory Gilmore herself, Alexis Bledel, and Jason Ritter as Stacey and Gavin. America has attempted to adapt Gavin & Stacey before, but it has never made it as far as being picked up by a network.
When America attempts to adapt a British show, it usually ends badly. Such tragic attempts at American remakes include Skins (2011), Coupling (2003), and Inbetweeners (2012). However, there have been quite a few American adaptations that have gone on to reach global success. Here are some of them: Shameless (2011), House of Cards (2013), Queer as Folks (2000) and of course the most popular American adaptation, The Office (2005).
A problem that plagues many American attempts at adapting British shows is the failure to translate the program to our audience. Because the UK and America have different cultural values, beliefs and norms, what works for them does not work for us. Our sense of comedy, drama, romance and danger vary from the UK’s. Therefore, these elements need to change in order for the American audience to give a show a chance. Us & Them feels like another try at completely duplicating a British show’s format without taking into consideration the American marketing differences.
What made the original Gavin & Stacey hilarious, romantic and quirky was the brilliant ensemble cast. Each character possessed a unique, special and weird trait that kept them fun to watch. Us & Them contains some of those factors, but it doesn’t quite feel authentic on the trailer. Bledel doesn’t show the same sweet but feistiness that Joanne Page showed playing Stacey. Ritter plays Gavin in more nerdy, awkward way than Matthew Horne characterized him.
The biggest trouble with the trailer is Nessa and Smithy. Both Ashlie Atkinson and Dustin Ybarra don’t play them even 1 degree as funny as Ruth Jones and James Corden did. Nessa and Smithy were kind of the scene stealers of the show, so it’s critical the remake has two people who can carry these characters, and from the trailer, we’re not convinced.
A positive of the Us & Them trailer is the changes made to Stacey and Gavin’s parents, which works beautifully. We’re excited to see Jane Kaczmarek as Pam (Gavin’s mom), Kerri Kenney as Gwen (Stacey’s mom) and Michael Ian Black as Brian (Stacey’s uncle). All talented actors who we believe can capture and adjust the characters effortlessly. The trailer has us even more convinced of this.
Overall, We’re not sure Us & Them can translate the charm of Gavin & Stacey to a North American market. However, we will still watch it in the fall to make our final decision. Hopefully, the trailer is not an indication of the series as a whole, because we believe Gavin & Stacey has enough universal appeal to be a huge hit in America. It just needs to find the right balance of staying true to the original story and becoming its own thing.
Check out the Us & Them trailer below: