How America ruins British TV shows

Compared to Coupling and Free Agents, the otherwise-middling House of Cards seems like a smashing success

U.K. House of Cards vs. U.S. House of Cards
(Image credit: Facebook/Netflix)

On its instant streaming site earlier this month, Netflix debuted House of Cards, a mini-series based on an acclaimed British three-parter from the 90s about corrupt lawmakers and political shenanigans. And in the less-than-grand tradition of American adaptations of U.K. shows, the U.S. version of House of Cards received mixed reviews. Yes, some were glowing. ("A backstabbing procedural delivered in a sophisticated style," wrote Troy Patterson of Slate.) Others, not so much. ("One must be anesthetized for the series to have its desired effect," wrote Nancy DeWolf Smith at The Wall Street Journal).

Over the years, a few British shows have successfully taken hold when adapted for the U.S. (We're looking at you, Shameless, The Office, and Being Human.) Maybe House of Cards will turn out to be one of them. But that's no guarantee, as the rather vast number of duds is equally notable. Here, a brief history of recent U.K.-to-U.S. failures:

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