Television in Translation

Translating comedy across cultures relies heavily on the cultures themselves in order to successfully translate them for their respective audiences. This translation can be highly successful or can become lost in translation. There are multiple examples of television that have become successful however when adapted elsewhere have not meant the same ratings. An example of this is Kath and Kim, which was highly successful in Australia, however, the American adaptation did not meet the same standards. Sue Turnbull says in her article Television Comedy in Translation that “the cultural specificity of comedy, thus constitutes a possible sticking point for sweeping theories of western media globalisation”, which again demonstrates the importance of culture when translation television. A successful translation of comedy, however, can be seen through Ugly Betty. The universal character of Betty was easily translated across cultures making it highly successful where it originated as well as the countries it was adapted in. Comedy’s such as The Office left audiences split with both versions, UK and US, being highly successful with their respective audiences. Turnbull says that one of the most important aspects of translating television is the casting. The casting has a profound affect on the success of its interpretation and how it is received. Translating television can go both ways when presented to an audience, however it is its adaptability that determines its success the most.

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine, vol. 159, pp. 110 – 115.



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