The other week a clip was circulating on American television from the India’s Got Talent. It was a fairly standard clip for those kind of shows where a little boy dressed as a delivery boy danced Michael Jackson-style to music. It got me thinking of the advertisements that were aired when I was watching The Voice of Germany this past season. There were ads for Das große Backen — the German version of The American Baking Competition which is the American version of the UK original The Great British Bake Off — and Fashion Hero — the German version of Fashion Star, the American original.
Everyone remembers the film Slumdog Millionaire, where the protagonist appears on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Or rather, appears on one of the Indian versions of the show — the country has several versions, each in a different language. Perhaps part of the reason the film was so successful is that we were all on the same page from the beginning. But these international franchises are so similar, too similar. Aside from maybe tweaking the name to work in a different market, the shows are practically the same from top to bottom. No detail is too small to be replicated. There’s no originality and there’s no innovation.
Similar stories and ideas aren’t unusual. Every culture seems to have their own spin or their own take on a folk story. Even in the television arena it’s not terribly new. Long running soap opera Lindenstraße is a German take on the classic British soap Coronation Street. But the difference is that these types of shows aren’t carbon copies of one another. They are deeply rooted in their own culture and even politics.
How do you feel about the homogenous direction that television is going in? Are TV franchises good for us?