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Shameless: A U.S. v. U.K. Comparison

Shameless is just one of many British television shows to be adapted for American television, after much its U.K. counterpart gained popularity. A number of people have even begun to watch shows that air in Britain first, such as Downton Abbey and Doctor Who. It's worth noting that some people never seem to catch on to these trends, and sometimes it just seems like a fun idea to create a whole new show with American actors. This is often helpful for audience members that do not care to make the extra effort to seek out the British television shows before they are made available to American consumers. Shameless is a popular show that has aired in Britain since 2004, and has recently gained a large amount of success with American audiences after premiering on Showtime in 2011. A couple of other popular shows that have been completely redone for American audiences are Skins and The Office. It seems that almost everyone watches The Office, but how many people actually realized that it originated as a British show before Steve Carrell made it popular in America?

As is the case with any movie or song being redone, some people might fear that a reboot of a show could never be as good as the one that came before it, but viewers of the hit show will have to be the judge of that. Ratings for the American version have been high since the show began, and with an excellent cast that works well together, the show has become a hit for the network. The plot is about the same for both versions of the show, although some characters are treated differently. The Gallagher family is the main focus of both shows as they deal with poverty and completely irresponsible parents. The kids are forced to live with and raise each other, as the older siblings step in to help out with the younger ones. Along with the poverty in which they live, it can be expected that they will deal with a large helping of dramatic situations and plenty of criminal activity. Frank Gallagher is prevalent throughout both series' as the drunk father who is unable to care for his kids.


The setting of the show certainly plays an important part in the show as well, with the U.K. version being set in an industrial city in Northern England and the American version set in Chicago. People will often think of poor people living in trailer parks or in rural areas, but the fact that it is set in the heart of Chicago makes it feel very authentic, and it can be compared with the original version as well. While the U.K. version has been running for much longer, it is hard not to compare tthe plots of the two shows closely. The first few seasons of the American version have tied in pretty closely with the beginning of the U.K. version. The episodes have followed the same basic theme and even feature dialogue that matches almost exactly. James McAvoy, the actor who played Steve in the U.K. version, found the American version's dialogue to match so closely that he found it odd to watch the same lines that he had said previously; subsequently, he was not able to get past the first episode.


It is working well for the U.S. version to copy the original so closely in order to seem genuine, but differences are bound to appear soon enough. Both of the shows have an excellent cast, with the U.K. version led by David Threlfall, who plays Frank Gallagher, while the U.S. version has veteran film actor William H. Macy playing the role of Frank Gallagher, with an additionally supporting cast that is always outstanding. In addition to Macy, Emmy Rossum plays Fiona, but beside that many of the actors were unknown kids before the show started and it has been a pleasure for audiences to watch the kids grow up over the past three seasons. Joan Cusack also co-stars as the Gallaghers' neighbor: a love interest for Frank at different points during the show. She has also received three prime time Emmy nominations for her role. Praise for the U.K. version includes winning Best Drama Series at the British Academy Television Awards in 2005, and the show was also nominated for Best British Drama at the National Television Awards in 2007.

While the U.K. version started out with the Gallagher family, it later moved on to focus on the Maguire family as the series progressed. Shows on Showtime have never run for 11 seasons before, so viewers will have to stay tuned in order to see where the show will go from here; perhaps later seasons will feature another family as well. The U.S. version is entering its fourth season in the winter and has its premiere date set for January 12, 2014. Meanwhile, the U.K. version just finished its 11th and final season in May of 2013. 



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