5 Weird Overseas Adaptations of Famous American TV Shows
How do you adapt a TV show for another country? It seems simple enough -- just translate the script and change all of the jokes about how "Living in New York City is just so crazy, guys" to "Living in Moscow is just so wacky, comrades," and you call it a day. But apparently it's not as easy as all that, or we wouldn't have wound up with ...
Russian Married With Children Got Really Horny, For Some Reason
Around the turn of the millennium, Russia was dealing with a serious issue. Citizens had a drastically reduced standard of living and desperately needed something to distract them. Their spies hadn't yet created buff Bernie Sanders coloring books, and there weren't enough qualified writers to create original content from scratch (really, guys?), so TV producers bought the scripts of American shows, hired Russian actors, and set them all in Moscow. Amazingly, Russian audiences fucking loved it.
One of the most popular remade shows was Married With Children, renamed Schastlivy Vmeste ("Happy Together"). The writers mostly kept the show's general vibe while recontextualizing the jokes about sad, hungry Americans for sad, hungry Russians. For example, in one scene, Gena tells his wife Dasha to take off her clothes. Dasha is thrilled they're going to finally have sex, but then Gena says, "No, Dasha, I'm simply dying of hunger, and hope that that will take away my appetite." It's not all that different from the original Married With Children's dark humor about poverty, but there's a real Russian bent to the phrase "I'm simply dying of hunger."
For the first 245 episodes or so, Happy Together adapted American scripts virtually beat for beat. And then, like everything that goes on for too long, it spiraled into unprecedented levels of crippling horniness. It appears they hosted a write-in contest where anybody could submit an idea, and a lot of the proposals they got were just boners shrieking into the night. Like, check out these new subplots:
Sveta wants to order a sweater over the internet for her boyfriend, but she accidentally orders Dave, an American who wants to marry her.
Lena wants to surprise Tolia with a sexy dress. It turns out to work fantastically, so Lena gives her dress also to Dasha.
Upon learning that the star stripper and Big'Uns model Masha Bulkin is terminally ill, Gena wants to give her his kidney.
Gena declares sex strike against Dasha until she begins to clean and cook. The next day the house the house glistens and food is on the table. Is Dasha now a perfect wife?
Roma builds a robot cleaner, hoping to turn it into a sex robot.
Gena meets a ghost -- Katya's great-grandmother -- who wants to have sex with him.
For years, whenever a show takes a turn for the absurd worst, we've deemed it a "jumping the shark" moment. But I definitely think there's a case to start saying things like "Man, that show really fucked the ghost grandma."
Iranian Modern Family Defeats Whole Purpose Of A "Modern Family"
Modern Family is basically Married With Children if Al Bundy aged a couple decades and his wife got younger, hotter, and slightly more Colombian. It aspires to be a look at how the traditional American notion of what a family "should" look like has changed. So naturally, it was remade in the extremely traditional, very non-American country of Iran.
Yes, the same country that bans sexual activity between members of the same sex and uses expensive CGI to cover up Will Ferrell's Talladega Nights bulge decided to give Modern Family a reboot. It turns out their definition of "modern" is a bit different than ABC's.
The first big change was naming it Haft Sang, which translates to "Seven Stones" and has nothing to do with unique family situations and everything to do with ... a kid's game combining Jenga and dodgeball? Also, obviously, they transformed the literally illegal gay characters into a couple of solid heterosexuals, and cruelly forced "Gloria" to wear a hijab instead of a wonderfully inappropriate amount of clothing.
But the weirdest change was swapping the sex of the oldest child. The Iranians adapted Modern Family practically shot for shot, which means keeping in a subplot where the mom walks in on the daughter hanging out with some cute boy. Except in Half Sang, the mom walks in on her son ... just kinda hanging out with another boy his age. But the mom is still upset about it, for some reason? Ironically, this sort of reinserts homosexual undertones into a show that worked so hard to eliminate them. Maybe Half Sang is super progressive after all!
Arabic Simpsons Tried To Get Away With Renaming Everything
The Simpsons' enduring popularity means that the only way it will ever go off the air is if my plan to blow up the sun succeeds. Maybe it's because of this seemingly unkillable status that an Arabic TV station thought to air it. Back in 2005, MBC had the brilliant idea to localize The Simpsons and went all in, hiring the Egyptian equivalent of Billy Crystal to voice the main character and airing the first episode on the first night of Ramadan -- typically the biggest TV-watching night of the year in Saudi Arabia.
The Simpsons became Al Shamsoon, and Homer became Omar. Springfield remained an American town, but it was reanimated to give the appearance of a large Arabic population. Omar no longer drinks beer, and in fact states at one point he no longer wishes to appear in "seedy bars with bums and lowlifes." When at home, he exclusively throws back bottles of nonspecific "juice."
Other random aspects of the town changed, as characters now referred to donuts as Egyptian "kahk" cookies, and bacon and hot dogs weren't actually pig meat, but kosher sausages. Ned Flanders no longer professed any sort of faith, and Krusty's Jewish father was quietly removed from the show entirely, as it's a common practice to remove any and all Jewish references in TV shows for Arabic viewers. Omar still said "d'oh," though, which is what really matters.
Al Shamsoon was canceled after airing only 34 episodes, despite intending to adapt 17 seasons' worth of material. While many factors contributed to the cancellation, according to historians, the primary cause was "sucking ass."
Ghost Stories Wasn't A Big Hit In Japan, But Its Filthy American Localization Went Well
In the early 2000s, an American entertainment company called A.D. Vision was looking for a new anime show to dub and release on DVD. But all they could get was some crappy show called Ghost Stories, about a girl named Satsuki who finds a book of spells left by her dead mom (as dead moms are wont to do), which she uses to fight off the ghosts haunting her high school. However, since Ghost Stories wasn't really a hit in Japan, ADV was given tons of leeway with the English translation. In fact, they only had four rules:
1. Do not change the names of any character, including the ghosts.
2. Do not change the way any ghost is killed as it is based on Asian ghost legends.
3. Do not change the meaning of the episode.
4. Do whatever else you want to make the show successful.
The company correctly guessed the original story was too boring to faithfully adapt, so instead the voice actors ad-libbed nearly the entire series, transforming an inoffensive story into something irreverent, filthy, and uncomfortable. Momoko goes from a girl interested in psychic and spiritual stuff (because ghosts) into a full-on Evangelical Christian (because Holy Ghosts), while another character becomes Jewish -- neither of which is exactly common in Japan.
One kid suddenly develops a learning disability for the American dub, which is handled with all the sensitivity you imagine, and several of his lines are cut or turned into inarticulate screaming. Additionally, they overloaded the script with tons of American-centric jokes that couldn't possibly make sense in Japan, like mocking Republicans and Hillary Clinton's views on Grand Theft Auto.
The main character Satsuki is only ten, but Ghost Stories loves throwing in tons of weird upskirt shots of her (no, we're not going to show you, pervert). The American dub plays off this frequently. At one point, Satsuki climbs a ladder, resulting in yet another underwear shot, so her voice actor screams, "My God, it's a cartoon! Stop staring up my dress!" Ha. It's like a joke, you see.
Surprisingly (or maybe not for you weirdos who already broke your keyboard Google-Image-searching Satsuki), the dubbed version became a modest hit, sold pretty well on DVD, and was re-released as recently as 2014.
Turkish Grey's Anatomy Removes All The Sex And Makes It About Marriage
Meredith Grey hasn't had a great life. Over the course of Grey's Anatomy, her mom dies of Alzheimer's, her husband dies of brain damage, her sister is crushed to death by airplane shrapnel, and her dog dies of goddamned bone cancer. She's also survived a near-drowning, a bombing, and a shooting spree. It's amazing she and her co-workers still find time to date dozens of hotties in between funerals. Honestly, there's so much hooking up that Seattle Grace is veritably overflowing with loose semen. It's probably the real reason the doctors there wear gloves all the time.
So when Turkish producers remade Grey's Anatomy, a few changes had to be made. Turkey transformed Grey's steamy dating subplots into relatively chaste marriage drama. Turkish culture -- especially on TV -- is all about working toward a committed marriage, so naturally, that's what Doktorlar is all about.
While most episodes are basically exact replicas of the American version, doctor hookups are replaced with marriages and divorces. And if you think that this sounds like a nap recipe for anyone that might stumble across it, know that the show was a success and ran for over 100 episodes. It honestly might be worth checking out even for fans of the original, because Doktorlar does deviate in one key way: The Meredith and McDreamy stand-ins stay together in the end! They don't even secretly develop fatal ass cancer on their honeymoon or anything!
For more, check out Rocky IV: The Version They Saw In Russia:
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