The irony of this statement from Kim, on the Australian show Kath and Kim, is not lost on an Australian audience. The audacity of a middle-aged woman, dressing down to a stereotype of a young teenager and declaring herself profoundly attractive (it really isn’t fun explaining the joke) gives us fits of laughter . Turnbull suggests that the ironic disconnect between the way the character/s imagine themselves and how the audience view them to be, is the reason Kath and Kim has received such high acclaim.
Yet this resonance is dramatically lost in the US remake of the series (and that’s putting it nicely). This is important, especially as an Australian audience as we are quite protective of our (good) content. Which makes sense, especially in this case, as we have made comedy somewhat of a national identity. Medhurst describes its importance in terms of how we view and make sense of our national identity by allowing us to share in the joke. That is to say that the jokes are reflective of our nature and gives us an air of familiarity.
Turnbull also draws upon Moran’s idea of cultural translation to consider how this familiarity could be created when recreating a text across cultures. It was shown that in many drama remakes that there needs to be an air of local appeal to the content. This is certainly the case in the recreation of Kath and Kim as Selma Blair used pop stars like Brittany Spears as her characters inspiration, something that would be unnecessary for the cliché riddled Gina Riley.
Likewise in the American remake of The Office the central themes and ideas are the same but the style and personas displayed are uniquely national. Turnbull suggests that not only is this to do with how the comedy is delivered but is impacted in how the actors look. In the Office the “Englishness” is delivered through the typically average looking cast, headed by the wonderfully eccentric Ricky Gervais. Similar to Riley’s Kim his air of sexual “confidence” gives us awkwardly hilarious moments. However, this would probably be lost in the American market, especially when you compare the depiction by Steve Carell of the equivalent character.
Yet, unlike Kath and Kim the American Office garnered critical acclaim and is seen on an equal footing with the original show. This is mostly due to a departure from the original and a foothold by the remake in its own narrative. This is probably the most useful way to recreate shows, particularly comedy. Pay homage, but depart as quickly as you can.