What makes a television show funny? In the case Kath and Kim, the reason why that show is so hilariously funny to us Aussies is because in some way or another we can all relate. Kath and Kim underneath all the exaggeration and vulgar stereo typing, actually gives a pretty accurate depiction of the typical, suburban, middle to lower class, Aussie Bogan lifestyle. While you yourself may be nothing like the characters on the show, I am sure that you know someone who is. Come on quit denying it.
So if the reason for the shows success here in Australia is because it is a satire of our own culture that allows us to laugh at ourselves,why did some genius out there think for one minute that the show would work well in America? Yeah that’s right I am talking about that abomination of a show that was the US version of Kath and Kim. That show was an instant flop and it is no surprise. The thing with comedy is that it differs from region to region and often can be lost in translation. Which was exactly the case with Kath and Kim. The reason for the shows failure was simply because it was putting humor shaped from an Australian context into an American environment. Americans had no relation connecting them to characters and therefore did not understand the irony. For America their Kath and Kim needed to be more like Earl and Randy of My Name Is Earl because that is a satirical look into Southern Redneck America that US audiences can identify with.
A similar sort of thing happened with The Office. This was originally a popular British television show that, although was a major success in America, needed to be completely overhauled in order to do so. The dark self depreciating humor that is British black comedy would not have been popular in America. The show needed to change, It needed to be less realistic, more light hearted, more silly and not to mention more aesthetically pleasing (Sorry Rickey Gervais).
One thing that never ceases to amaze and frustrate me is the western need to alter Anime and target it to children. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been sitting in my room watching a Japanese Anime when my parents would suddenly burst in and say “Stop watching cartoons you are an adult”, at which point my reply is always “They are not cartoons they are Anime”. In Asian countries Anime is not made for children; it is for adults but for some reason when it is transferred into western culture it is always interpreted to be for children and is adjusted so accordingly.
This is another way television is lost in Translation. In order for shows like One Piece to be successful in America and Australia they have to be changed dramatically. First of all they have to be dubbed, this is horrible because by simply changing voice actors from serious actors to children’s cartoon actors you instantly loose the quality of the show. There is no real in depth emotion just silly, patronizing, child catering, shrieks and yells. Secondly the entire show has to be watered down, That’s right no gore, no violence, no accurate looking weapons and worst all no innuendos of any kind. In One Piece Sanji’s trademark cigarette is changed into lollipop. To me it does not make sense for a mighty pirate to carry around a lollipop everywhere he goes and I think it is just insulting to the seriousness of the show.