I really had not watched any British television before this class, so I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard of Skins and Doctor Who and seen the ads for Misfits on Hulu, but the rest was basically all new to me. What surprised me the most about the type of programming in the UK was that I either loved it or thought it was the strangest thing I’d ever seen. There wasn’t really any middle ground – expect for the comedies that I just didn’t understand so I couldn’t make a proper opinion.
I think this is relates back to how different British TV is to American TV. The themes and concepts of shows reflect the very different societies in the US and the UK. So many of these have tried to be recreated in the US but have failed miserably because the type of content that can be shown here is more restricted. We don’t really have a post-wastershed time for the provocative material – like on many of the teen shows in the UK – to be aired. What each culture deems as socially acceptable really shapes what programs air in the two countries.
It was also interesting to learn that British series are super short – like 5 or 6 episodes tops. I don’t think I could stand waiting so long for a new series to start just to get a couple episodes that year! I guess if I grew up with that type of TV schedule I would be used to it, but coming from the American set-up of over 20 episodes a year, I was really surprised at the way TV airs in the UK.
Overall, I am extremely glad I took this class. Seeing the differences between British and American TV was really interesting, and I even found a couple new shows to catch up with this summer…because I needed more TV to watch.