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The Office US: A Rare Success For a UK Comedy Remake

The Office US: A Rare Success For a UK Comedy Remake

As productive and prolific as American TV studios have been over the years, there has still often been the temptation to look across the Atlantic to see what was working on British TV. And then copy it. Unfortunately, British comedy hasn’t always done well when translated for an American audience, with no less than three attempts at Fawlty Towers remakes as well as failed versions of Absolutely Fabulous, Red Dwarf, One Foot In The Grave, Dad’s Army and The Young Ones, amongst others.

The Office is one of the few UK comedies to have not only been successfully remade in the US, but to take on a life of its own over the pond. While the original show only ran for two short seasons and a two-part Christmas special, its remake lasted 201 episodes and was hugely popular and successful, winning four Emmy awards and launching the careers of several stars as well as having a clear influence on other successful US comedies.

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It also achieved the almost unique achievement of going on to be hugely popular in the UK, possibly helped by the lack of new episodes of the original show, but demonstrating that America really could sell British comedy back to Britain.

The show was a huge success in the US with the best episodes as good or even better than the original. So how did this show succeed where so many others had failed? Some of it has to be down to the talents involved in bringing it to life, including creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, along with US showrunner Greg Daniels.

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Adapting The Comedic Element For a US Audience

Another element of its success is that Daniels wasn’t afraid to take the premise of the show and tweak its humour to better fit the American audience, so while the pilot episode stuck very closely to the original Office’s pilot (and was credited to Gervais and Merchant), this version only really came into its stride when it gained in confidence of both its own writers and actors, while the documentary-style filming was also loosened at times as the show went on, to avoid it becoming restrictive.

Character Differences

The main characters in The Office US are based on those in the British show, but all with tweaks that made them able to not only appeal to a different audience but also last in a show that went on to have 9 seasons. It’s fair to say that the more acerbic elements of the humour were given softer edges for the US market, and so Ricky Gervais’s David Brent became Steve Carell’s Michael Scott, still not a boss you’d want to work for, but given a more gentle portrayal than his British counterpart.

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Gareth Keenan shifted from Mackenzie Crook’s angular and anxious portrayal to the more contained but no less socially adept Dwight Schrute, launching the career of Rainn Wilson, while John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer certainly had chemistry as Jim and Pam, the US versions of Tim and Dawn. With a lot more episodes to fill, it’s no surprise that more of the ensemble cast got to shine at Dundler Mifflin, including Angela from Accounting and Oscar the gay Hispanic character so often the victim of Michael’s attempts at humour.

Becoming A Success

The Office US survived a patchy first season of just six episodes with mediocre reviews but good enough ratings to earn another chance and flourished in its second season when it began to properly gain its own identity. That identity and brand of humour became so popular that it inspired the creation of Parks And Recreation, a show with a very similar style that went on to be a huge success in its own right, with Daniels and Michael Schur from The Office writing staff involved in its creation.

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Schur’s success at Parks And Rec led to him creating Brooklyn Nine-Nine, while fellow writer Mindy Kaling was able to build on her success on and off-screen in The Office by creating The Mindy Project. So that’s three very popular shows that all owe their creation to a US remake of a UK show, demonstrating exactly what can be achieved if remakes are done with both affection and respect for what has gone before but also confidence and inspiration to be very much its own thing.

That’s what The Office US achieved, helping to cement Steve Carell’s status as a star of the small and big screens, as well as keeping a nation (and beyond) enthralled by the romance between Pam and Jim, and highlighting some uniquely American office traditions to go with the very British antics that Ricky Gervais had turned the comedy spotlight on. Not many remakes stand on their own as classics alongside the originals, but this one does.

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Richard Hammond

Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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