Translating Comedy and Drama Across Cultures

Television in translation is the process of translating media across different cultures. These translations rely heavily on the cultures themselves and how they run in order for their respective audiences to effectively engage in them. The most important aspect is the audience and how the individuals with different cultures understand and interpret the chosen translated media. The propensity for local programming adaptions is prompted by the cultural proximity principle, where audiences become attracted to a cultural product that is close in cultural context and style to the audiences own cultures, like the dress, style, humour or historical references (Moran, 2009).

This idea of television in translation or even the cultural proximity principle is an important part of translating comedy and drama to a particular nation or culture because without it the media would not depict everyday life aspects of that culture which would mean that it would not appeal to that audience.

skins-uk-vs-skins-us-il-diavolo-e-l-acqua-santa_h_partb.jpgAn example of translating comedy and drama in TV series is very much highlighted in the series ‘Skins’. Skins is a television show which focuses on the story of a group of teens who are trying to grow up and discover themselves. Skins is an emotional mosh-pit which slams through the insanity of teenage years, from drugs, sex, disorders, friendships and relationships.

Skins was originally a very successful series developed to appeal to a UK audience. The series became very well known for being frank and honest about the descriptions of large.jpgteenage-like and what it was like to grow up in the times of self-discovery. As the UK version of skins was very successful and ranged a number of several series, it received worldwide acclaim which leads to the US attempting to adapt and re-create their own version of the series.

The US audience, however, criticised this adaption of the depiction of the issues shown in the show. This lead to a lot of the episodes being highly censored and a lot of critics claiming that the show was very damaging and dangerous for children to watch because of the mass array of topics which are delved into. Later on, the season was cancelled due to its content and lack of popularity with the US audience.

Skins is definitely a great example to use in the case of translating comedy and drama from one culture to another, as it very much highlights the differences between the UK and US audience and how they interpreted this series. The series definitely highlights the negative effects of translating comedy and drama across cultures and what can happen when its done in a way that doesn’t appeal to the translated audience. TV shows, in the end, are proof of their own nation and culture. The content, feel of the TV series and tone leaves a lasting impression on the culture of a series, so when it’s taken out of its original setting or environment it can lose its spark and identity if you aren’t careful




  • Moran, A., 2009. TV formats worldwide: localizing global programs. Intellect Books.

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