When a remake of a TV show or movie falls short, it often fails spectacularly. But what is it that makes a reimagined version of a story resonate with an audience or miss the mark?

In response to this list of some of the most unfortunate American remakes of foreign properties, a discussion began about the reasons a faithful adaptation might fail to capture a new audiences imagination — and what the rare successful remakes were doing right:

Synchronise Your Dogmas

To be frank, American remakes fail with shows like these because they can't capture the very essence of the culture that they're trying to emulate. In The Killing, you always had the sense that justice would prevail, etc. In Forbrydelsen, you had the nasty sense that the bad guy was going to get away with it. In Bron, you had the sense that you're dealing with two very similar countries but with gaping divisions in how they treat their citizens (brought to the fore in the second series, sometimes in quite brutal ways) and a bad guy who, ultimately, couldn't be reasoned with.


All in the Family was an adaptation of a British series, and it's considered one of the greatest sitcoms in US TV history. (I have no idea if 'Til Death Do Us Part has the same cultural caché in the UK.) And given that its premise is founded on specific generational culture clashes, there's no way the original could have resonated with American audiences to the same degree.


What do you think? Tell us in the comments, along with your favorite examples, what you think makes an adaptation work — and when deviating from the source material is a good idea.

Image: Danish series Forbrydelsen (remade as The Killing)

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