Are China and Hong Kong TV shows stealing their ideas from the U.S.? (WSJ)

14 August 2012 11 h 52 min Comments Off

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China has been accused of producing knockoff handbags and electronics, but lately fingers have been pointed at a different kind of counterfeit product: TV shows.

According to viewers and local media, American TV series such as “Friends,” “MADtv” and “How I Met Your Mother” are seeing copycats spring up both in China and Hong Kong.

Take Hong Kong’s “TV Funny,” a comedy skit show that aired on TVB, Hong Kong’s largest broadcaster, every weekday during the Olympics. Last week, Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily pointed out the similarity of its jokes to defunct Fox series “MADtv.” Apple Daily even published a video juxtaposing scenes from the two shows, including what seemed to be note-for-note remakes of certain “MADtv” sketches such as one depicting a fictional John Madden getting angry at his inability to successfully tape a popcorn maker commercial. Another similar sketch portrayed a couple’s intimate wedding proposal interrupted by a steady rain of bird droppings. TVB denied that it was copying the American show.

“Our production team might have used similar shows as reference and inspiration in designing our program,” said a spokeswoman in an email.

It’s not the first time the Hong Kong broadcaster has been accused of aping TV from elsewhere. Earlier this year, bloggers and newspapers noted the similarities between its series “L’Escargot,” about the struggles of a middle-class family obsessed with home ownership, and mainland China’s hit drama “Dwelling Narrowness,” which focuses on the same issues in a fictional Chinese city modeled on Shanghai. In 2010, local writers claimed that its drama “Gun Metal Grey,” about a wrongfully accused cop who was framed for murder and vows to find the real killer, strayed a bit too close to the U.S. drama “Life,” a show based on the same premise.

Over in mainland China, TV viewers have gone to Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging service, to accuse TV show “iPartment,” also known as “Love Apartment,” of aping “Friends,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

Similar to “Friends,” the show is about a group of good-looking young single people who live in neighboring apartments in a Shanghai residential tower. While “Friends” had a struggling actor, a flaky masseuse and a university lecturer among its cast, “iPartment” has a computer nerd, a radio DJ and a university lecturer in its lineup.


Of course, television history is littered with examples of idea-borrowing — think American classics like “All in the Family” and “Three’s Company,” both based on British comedies. But savvy Chinese viewers are taking a dim view of perceived similarities between U.S. and Chinese TV shows. One Weibo user named Albee wrote, “After ‘Friends,’ ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ I have no interest in iPartment. Why can’t you just have some original ideas?” Another named Will Tang was more succinct in criticism: “iPartment is so disgusting, it’s an entire copy.”

… / …

Full article

Source: (14/08/2012)


. TVB accused of plagiarism in variety show “TV Funny”; Raymond Wong declines to comment (

. Chinese sitcom accused of scene stealing from cult American TV series (

. TVB new series “L’Escargot” criticized “impersonated version” of “Dwelling Narrowness” (

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