As a recent major fan of The US Office I have grown to love the iconic hit series. But what makes the US version so much better than the original UK version?
The Office is a mockumentary sitcom about the everyday lives of office employees in a paper company. The first ever episode of the UK office was aired in 2001 shortly after the 14 episodes were released the show got cancelled. Finally, it was remade in America in 2005 which became a big success with 9 seasons in total.
I remember a few months ago, I went onto Stan to watch an episode of each version the UK and the US. I was 10 minutes into the UK series when I just couldn’t relate or find anything the main character David Brent said funny. I then shortly after went and watched the US version and began hooked instantly, I found Michael Scott to be a hilarious character and from there on I was hooked with the variation of characters and thus I began my addiction to the show.
Now you may be thinking why was the UK version not as successful? Well, whilst doing some reading I came across an article which called Choosing National TV it spoke about; ‘Culture, identity, proximity and language leads to the favouring for a culture, which then leads an audience to favour local or national productions over those that are global.’ (Straubhaar, J 2014). Which really made me think, sometimes a show or movie that may be successful in a few countries may not really be as successful in another.
“Adapting a successful program makes more sense than simply importing the original because, as Moran observes, “locally produced programmes, whether based on formats or not, are likely to attract larger audiences than imported programmes” (Griffin, J 2008)
According to, an article written by Jeffrey Griffin called the Americanisation of The Office, US networks have constantly developed remakes of popular British sitcoms. It spoke about how most of these remakes had markedly short runs, however, NBC’s version of The Office achieved notable success. It won the 2006 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy- an achievement that, in and of itself, makes the series one of the most successful adaptations of a foreign series (Griffin, 2008).
So if this show is so popular why wasn’t the UK version as successful? I presume it was because of the Americanisation of the US show, it allowed a wider audience to understand and relate to the characters.
For The Office US, NBC had to Americanise pretty much everything from the boss to the staff and the setting. The boss for example comes across as an egotistical braggart in both version. Both bosses, Michael Scott and David Brent share the same traits however there are clear differences. David is more articulate, even glib on occasion. Michael, occasionally mangles his vocabulary or grammar, although he is generally well spoken. (Griffin, J 2008)
The reason for their success is because the US version found a lot of things that appealed to a wider audience. In my opinion, I will always favour the US version of the UK version but again, that’s my opinion.
- Straubhaar, Joseph, D ‘Choosing National TV: Cultural Capital, Language and Cultural Proximity in Brazil’ in The Impact of International Television: Paradigm Shift, edited by Michael G Elasmar, Oxford: Routledge, 2014, pp-77-100
- Griffin, Jeffery. ‘The Americanization of the Office: A Comparison of the Offbeat NBC sitcom and its British Predecessor’, Journal of Popular Film and Television, 35:4, Winter 2008, pp.154-163
- Coulter, R. (2019). 5 Reasons Why YOUR Company Needs to Play with Volo City! – Volo City. [online] Volo City. Available at: http://www.volocity.org/national/why-you-need-a-corporate-team [Accessed 23 Aug. 2019].