8 TV shows you might not know are based on foreign originals
Some of America's greatest TV obsessions originate overseas.
Hollywood has had quite the obsession with remaking foreign television for the past few years. While some of their adaptations have been more successful (and popular) than others, it's always interesting to look at where some of TV's biggest shows originally came from. Here are 10 shows that you might not already know are actually based on foreign programs.
HOMELAND Based On: Hatufim (Israel) Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa's thrilling series Homeland has been a huge hit for Showtime, but most of its viewers are likely unaware that the show is actually based on Gideon Raff's Israeli series Hatufim. Winner of the 2010 Israeli Academy Award for Television for Best Drama Series, Hatufim has only run two seasons (with a rumored third season on the way) while its American counterpart recently completed its third. Although Homeland has often been laughably silly plot-wise, its excellent cast has buoyed it to solid critical acclaim as well as Emmy and Golden Globe Award wins.
THE KILLING Based On: Forbrydelsen (Denmark) Don't let the naysayers of Veena Sud's smart, well-acted mystery, The Killing, fool you. The show is much better than they would have you believe. Based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen, AMC's version stuck fairly close to the original but lost some of its audience when it chose not to reveal the answer to season one's big mystery: "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?" Those fans that chose to stick it out, however, were treated to an improved second season and a fantastic third season. With subpar ratings, The Killing was canceled by AMC numerous times, but was picked up due to popular demand for a six-episode fourth season exclusively on Netflix.
THE OFFICE Based On: The Office (UK) Everybody knows that The Office had a pretty severe drop in quality after about the fourth season (and really called it quits once Steve Carell departed), but those first few seasons were comedy gold. Fans of the original UK series, starring (and co-created by) Ricky Gervais, were extremely leery about the US adaptation, but even they will often admit that Carell's Michael Scott was great for a few years. All of which makes the original series that much more special. Running for only 14 episodes allows The Office (UK) to get in, be hilarious and get out while it's still on top. That being said, few TV moments will ever be more fun than Pam and Jim's wedding at Niagara Falls.
IN TREATMENT Based On: BeTipul (Israel) HBO's In Treatment only ran for three seasons, but they were impactful in a variety of ways. Starring Gabriel Byrne as psychologist Dr. Paul Weston, the show featured his weekly patient sessions as well as his own treatment. The interesting wrinkle that HBO threw into the mix, however, was the fact that In Treatment would run five days a week for its first two seasons (it switched to four days a week during its third, and final, season). You might think that watching five therapy sessions a week would be draining, but its format was one of the things that made the series work so well. Based on Hagai Levi's Israeli series BeTipul, In Treatment often followed its predecessor rather closely (even using word-for-word translations of scripts during the show's early run) while also finding its own voice, which garnered In Treatment numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations (and several wins).
UGLY BETTY Based On: Yo soy Betty, la fea (Colombia) Executive produced by Salma Hayek, ABC's Ugly Betty was a solid hit for its first three seasons, but it really got the shaft during the later portions of its life. Based on Fernando Gaitán's Colombian soap Yo soy Betty, la fea, Ugly Betty gave rise to the career of the adorable America Ferrera and gained a large, very loyal fanbase during its run. Their vocal support of the show even took ABC to task when, during a dip in the show's ratings in its fourth season, the network decided to move Ugly Betty all over the schedule, effectively giving the series little chance to survive. It was canceled in 2010, but rumors of a movie have been flying around the Internet ever since. Chances are that time is running out on that dream, but at least we'll always have those Ugly Betty DVDs to fall back on.
WILFRED Based On: Wilfred (Australia) Here's a concept we bet you never thought you'd see on TV: Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) co-stars with a human-sized dog named Wilfred. Well, FX made that concept a reality in 2011 by adapting the Australian series of the same name. Co-creator Jason Gann even came aboard to, once again, play the role of Wilfred. The comedy has been a critical favorite since its debut here in the US, but FX recently announced that not only will season four be Wilfred's last, but it will also move to the new FXX network to conclude its run. Nevertheless, we're pretty confident this is the last time we'll see a human in a dog suit acting alongside an A-list actor. Or is it...
SURVIVOR Based On: Expedition Robinson (Sweden) Despite this list being filled with Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning shows, Mark Burnett's reality series Survivor is easily the biggest winner of all the foreign adaptations. Currently airing its 28th season, the CBS show has already been picked up for seasons 29 and 30, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Based on the 1997 Swedish series Expedition Robinson, Survivor has been on television since the year 2000 and is often referred to as the grandfather of modern American reality TV. It's not only a reality show; it's an institution at this point with millions of fans all over the world eager to watch the next group of castaways scratch and claw their way toward victory.
HOUSE OF CARDS Based On: House of Cards (UK) Adapted from Michael Dobbs' BBC miniseries of the same name, House of Cards is the show that put Netflix (and original streaming content in general) on the map. Developed and produced by Beau Willimon, the 13-episode first season paved the way for shows like Orange is the New Black and other streaming-only shows to gain an audience that was ready for something fresh, new and detached from the hands of network executives trying desperately to find what works. It allowed viewers the chance to watch its entire first season in one long sitting and practically coined the phrase "binge-watching" as a way to consume entertainment. Winner of Emmy and Golden Globe awards, House of Cards may not be the best Netflix series (we would give that distinction to Orange is the New Black), but it is, without a doubt, the most influential.
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