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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

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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