US v. UK – a view from the 'other side of the pond'


Debra Craine with the TimesOnline opens the debate as to “Who Owns the Small Screen Now?” by asserting that, quite possibly, the Americans are winning the battle. One quick note, she’s talking solely about British vs. American drama here, not comedy.

TheShieldLifeOnMarsWhile I can agree with some of what she says when citing the likes of The Shield, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sons of Anarchy, or Mad Men as shining examples of American drama output, I’ll still stand by the belief that the UK remains on top when it comes to quality television output. I’ll put Spooks (MI5), Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes or Hustle up against anything that comes out in America, anytime.

As Debra points out towards the end of the article, “Of course it’s easy to cherry-pick the best of the imports and disregard the acres of dross that fill the schedules across the Atlantic. But even when Americans make something preposterous (Grey’s Anatomy or FlashForward), or something totally formulaic (Law and Order, CSI), there is a slickness and commitment that you just don’t find in British drama.

For me, maybe it boils down to the simple fact that the British “acres of dross” that Debra refers to is better than the American “acres of dross”. Television is writer’s medium and the Brits win, hands down.

Thoughts anyone?

  • Oh yes, British tv shows are better! I only watch one American network show, and occasionally some cooking shows on cable.

  • Tony

    I think the pick of US drama has definitely been better over the past decade! It’s also mildly amusing how often British actors are featuring in these US shows.

    A couple of observations, Channel 4 and 5 in the UK have a hefty amount of US content in primetime this makes it easy to come to the conclusion that the US have the upper hand. Also, ITV drama is very patchy – it’s interesting that the article referred to a lot of historic ITV content which is rarely matched these days. Between the reality TV shows they do a lot of Crime serials but little else stands out.