4 Reasons Why British TV Shows Are Better Than American TV Shows

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The comparisons between America and England are endless. You’ve heard it all before – the British have better everything. Better food, better fashion…even better television.

While I’m obviously a huge fan of American shows, many of my favorite shows are British-based and I decided to take on this age-old debate by hashing out just some of the differences that constitute why, in my opinion, British television may be better than American television.


It’s not so much that British writers are wittier than American writers. It’s that they know how to specifically incorporate crude humor into their shows in a way that makes the outcome appealing and funny to the audience. Americans tend to use crude humor in the form of cartoons or violence, usually grossing them out or turning them off to the program. With the way the British present their style of comedy, they’re able to seamlessly weave in scenarios that, although taboo, resonate with the audience.

The popular show Coupling was a British hit because it smartly dealt with humor that revolved around sexual innuendo – this also became a large part of its appeal. When the show was brought over to the United States, however, it failed miserably and many theorized that this failure was because our audiences didn’t appreciate the show without the trademark crude humor that was its staple back in England.


I am fully admitting that this is superficial, but as self-proclaimed Anglophile, I feel like it needs to be put on my list.

To put it simply: how many of us have liked men (or women) because of their accents? Even if we don’t want to admit it, Americans like to be drawn to aspects of countries that aren’t our own…and just because there’s a difference in the way the British talk, it makes the shows and actors that much more appealing to us when we’re watching them.


An advantage for the Brits and their television schedule is that they don’t have a set amount of episodes to adhere to like America does – which means no filler episodes and more quality television. A typical UK production is about 6-13 episodes, and the stories are usually mapped out ahead of time with the same writers, producers and stars working on the project for the entirety of the show. As a result, the shows are usually cleaner, sharper and easier to follow.

In contrast, Americans have a very different way of storytelling – one that’s more complicated. Our normal television production is around 20-24 episodes, and we go through the season with many repeats and interruptions. In the case of shows that are ordered without a set number of episodes, sometimes writers have to write additional stories on a whim or cast new stars when others drop out, which causes a loss interest from viewers.


British television has such a distinct voice that it is almost impossible to replicate it on American television. With the exception of The Office, countless shows that have come over to America from Britain have failed because the they just don’t resonate in the same way with our audiences. A certain voice is needed to make these shows a success, and often, it’s one that’s hard to put an Americanized spin on.

This leads most shows to have large cult-like followings, mostly among young adults. Creative and ingenious pieces like Doctor Who and Torchwood usually have dedicated audiences because the ones who are most passionate are the ones who can appreciate the true voice of the show.


Remember – these are simply my opinions! While I love both American and British television shows, I think each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For anyone who loves entertainment and pop culture, it definitely makes for a fun – and interesting – debate.

What are your thoughts on British television vs. American television? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have a favorite British show?

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