My raging case of Anglophilia is pretty well known, I think; it is a disease for which I have found no cure, a disease I often fear is terminal. When a person is sat on a tube platform at four in the morning, staring at rats and thinking how happy she is to be in London, there's really no hope for her. (I often wonder how the English, being the parents of the language, can so horribly mangle the English language and its grammatical rules. And I also wonder why I pepper my own natural south of the mason-dixon dialect with other countries' shitty slang.) And while I certainly understand that my Anglophilia causes me to have blinders about some things - are sausage rolls really the ne plus ultra of breakfast foods? Actually, yes, yes they are - there are some ways in which it is QUITE CLEAR that the land of Her Majesty the Queen has it all over us poor American slobs.
Okay, one way. Well, two, but Magners is actually Irish and thus doesn't count.
That way? Television.
I'm sorry, but it's true. British TV wipes the floor with American TV, almost all the time. Sure, America's capable of producing some shows that England couldn't imagine in their most fervent nerdy wet dreams - The X-Files, for example, could never have worked over in England. They aren't nearly paranoid enough about their government (I mean, CCTV! And NO ONE questions this?? People, rise up!) to relate to Mulder, and also I don't think the British Parliament is so loose-fisted with their security budgets as we are - how else do we explain Scully's season 4-and-later wardrobe? Plus, no offense, England, but I've seen your iconic sci-fi show, and apart from the charming and hot Scottish fellow playing the titular character, it kinda blows.
Also, England could never produce something like Gossip Girl, because all of their soap operas are about really ugly, middle-class, downtrodden people. I don't get that. If I wanted to see ugly people's ugly problems, I'd go outside and make friends. No! I want to see pretty people's glamorous problems! From the safety and comfort of my couch!
But apart from sci-fi metaphors of our search for God in a godless world, and shows about Blair Waldorf being awesome, I have to say that England tends to do it just a bit better than us. Here are three examples, from three different genres, that wipe the floor with any sort of American counterparts:
This is The Mighty Boosh:
Pretty much everything you need to know about The Mighty Boosh can be summed up by this photo: two men, one has great hair, the other a great mustache.
No, really, The Boosh is an amazing surreal comedy about two friends, Howard and Vince, and the trouble they get up to going about their daily lives. Vince befriends polar bears and is worshipped by aliens and loves Gary Numan and has an amazing assortment of hats. Howard loves Jazz and accidentally gets taken to Monkey Hell and is hated by the Wind and had his first kiss on a rooftop on his 32nd birthday. With Vince.
Okay, so there's really no good way to explain The Boosh, except to say that it's like watching someone else's pot-and-ecstacy-inspired daydream, and that there's singing involved. Singing, Mod Wolves, people with heads made of cheese, a mystic shamen who has an ape as a familiar and a villain called Betamax.
And while The Boosh does air, edited, on BBCAmerica and has gained some popularity over here in America, the truth is that we just can't deal with such a strange, surreal comedy. The most surreal comedy we have is probably Flight of the Conchords:
And they're from New Zealand.
No, Anne, I'm not going to mention ASBO Teen To Beauty Queen, even if it is possibly the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life. :)
The truth is, we steal a lot of reality tv from the Brits. You can blame them for Dancing With the Stars (aka Strictly Come Dancing, a title that makes no sense to me no matter how many times people explain its origins. Yes, yes, Baz, I know.), American Idol (aka Pop Idol, originally, and now in the form of the fantastic The X Factor, which is so much better than AI, I cannot even tell you), America's Got Talent (we do?), Trading Spaces, What Not To Wear; NBC has even picked up the terrible Baby Borrowers and will be airing the American version this fall.
But for the most part, these reality shows have about the same level of quality (if any) across the ocean. Only one really stands head and shoulders above the rest, only one is so far superior in its UK version than in its poor American imitation, only one can tempt me to actually BUY A HARD DRIVE to store it on during the summer.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Big Brother:
(Hi, twins! Hi, Chiggy! Hello, Emily, you racist slut! Cheesy Quavers! Oh, all my old friends!)
I've only watched one season of America's Big Brother: last year with Evil Dick and his fascinating rape fantasies. And it took me approximately one week to cycle through all the stages of Reality Show Depression: shock that this show made it to air, obligatory old-man comment about how it used to be different in my day, guilty facination despite myself, outrage when someone is kicked off before their lamer/viler/uglier/dumber co-contestants, oversaturation, total boredom.
Big Brother US is just not fun, guys. It's missing - well, it's missing everything that makes Big Brother UK so great (and it is so great) - Julie Chen's weird bobblehead in no way bests Davina McCall's excited shrieking, the US tasks aren't nearly ridiculous enough, and no blonde, vapid US villians will ever be as amazing as Nikki:
Oh, Big Brother. I can't wait until June, when you're back in my life! Like an old friend, you always know just what to do to cheer me up. And it usually involves someone shrieking about ass herpes.
Dramas About Time-Travelling Mancunian Cops
Okay, so this is a bit specific, but it was brought on by mere forwarding me information about the ridiculous, blasphemous, sure-to-be-shitty David E. Kelly remake of one of my very favorite shows, Life on Mars. ABC picked up the series for this fall, and guys, I know I am the girl who cries wolf about this stuff, I know that I basically threatened people with bodily harm if they watched the US remake of The Office, and yes, I can admit that that ONE TIME, I happened to be wrong (although to be fair, based on the first six eps of the first season of The Office US, I was still right. And how was I to know the appeal of Jim Halpert?), but PLEASE BELIEVE ME when I say that the US remake of Life On Mars is going to be one of the shittiest things on television. I can say confidently, without hesitation, that David E Kelly will fuck that show up so very bad that you'll want to throw away all your Bowie albums just because he'll remind you of this soon-to-be show. Trust me. Because, friends, you may be able to, if not upgrade, at least pay loving homage to Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant, but no one, NO ONE, will be able to upgrade these two people:
This? Is Phillip Glenister and John Simm, better known as Gene Hunt (Trust the Gene Genie) and Sam Tyler. They make Life on Mars. They are Life on Mars. They elevate it from the quasi-spooky, vaguely hokey drama that it could have been into the witty, cutting, quasi-gay, heart-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat-must-see-more SUPERNOVA OF A SHOW that it turned out to be. Please do yourself a favor and watch the original (read: BEST! ONLY! TRUE!) Life on Mars series. It's only, what, 16 episodes long? I watched all of them in a week. In Mississippi. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere. Because, I promise you, if you happen by this shoddy American remake on ABC this fall, if you accidentally catch a few minutes of its watered-down, sentimental claptrap, you will have spoiled yourself; you will have ruined what could have been the greatest relationship between you and a television show you'll ever have. Love yourself, people. Watch Life on Mars before it's too late.
Also, if it helps? The soundtrack's amazing. And that fellow on the right gets naked.