Being Human, UK vs US

So I recently watched a few episodes of the US version of Being Human, the ones that are available on Hulu. I don’t know what I was expecting. I like the urban fantasy genre but I don’t like vampires all that much. The stuff I read/watch with vampires, I enjoy despite the vampires. And I like my stuff a bit more complex emotionally than we tend to see a lot of the time. Bonus points when research on mythology/folklore is evident as part of the worldbuilding.

I love Buffy but I don’t really like most of True Blood. I like the Cassandra Palmer books because of the intricate time traveling thing that sorts itself out by the end of the first trilogy, the unique way the main character uses her powers, and the chaotic action scenes; not because of the vampires. My favorite urban fantasy author (Seanan McGuire) hasn’t even written a vampire as of yet–she’s drawn from fae stories and cryptozoology instead.

Nonetheless, two things about this show indicated that I should give it a chance: the premise, and the fact that it was based off of a British show. And wouldn’t you know it, I liked the few episodes of the US version that I saw. Naturally, I wanted to watch more. But the obvious question I had to ask myself was whether I should watch the British version, or go back to the beginning of the American version. Google seemed to indicate that everyone disagreed with each other, so the only way to really find out was to try watching both.

I decided to do a preliminary comparison of this by watching the first episode of the UK version followed immediately by the first episode of the US version.

The US cast talks a bit about the BBC version towards the end of this video; definitely cool that there’s respect there, even if they aren’t supposed to watch too much of it.

First, the UK version. I really, really wanted to like it. The BBC’s done wonderfully with Doctor Who and I’m still keeping up with Merlin as well. The premise for the show is great; I really like that the core of the story is three friends, not any kind of relationship. And the story is about them trying to be better people. I personally think that friendship isn’t represented well enough or often enough in the TV I see, so for me, this is a very strong premise.

Something about it just wasn’t working for me, though. I don’t know, maybe it felt too stereotypically normal, which is something I don’t go for as a matter of personal taste. Or maybe it just wasn’t personal enough. I didn’t feel like the characters were interacting so much as sharing the same space. But what I will say to the show’s credit is that it was genuinely funny. Funny isn’t that easy to come by for me, in most media. I’m very skeptical of comedy because I’m too used to seeing comedy that doesn’t work for me. The parts that were supposed to be humorous in this episode, though? They had me laughing.

When I was watching the US version, I immediately felt like the characters cared more. Their struggles felt more internal. This episode had a lot more reaction shots compared to its British counterpart, and did a lot more with the characters’ faces. Instead of just being in a room together, it felt like they were genuinely interacting. When George complained about Annie, he just sounded like a jerk. When Josh complained about Sally, I got where he was coming from and why he was upset, even as I got where Sally was coming from too. That’s a powerful difference.

The American version wasn’t as funny, but I’ll take the characterization over good comedy any day. And watching Sam Huntington act as Josh is really fun. Serious charisma there.

So the UK version, unfortunately, looks like it might not be quite for me. The US version so far is intriguing.

Anyone prefer one or the other? Or love both?

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4 Responses to Being Human, UK vs US

  1. and Rose Red says:

    This was a really interesting idea to do a basic comparison of the two. Personally, I’ve only ever seen the UK version, and liked it alright but never really got hooked. I’ve basically been at the point where I know I really *want* to like it because I do like the premise and I can see the potential in the episodes that I’ve seen, but so far it just hasn’t managed to grab me to the point of wanting to watch it from the beginning.

    The US version I really never thought to give a change… I generally assume when the US *steals* something from the BBC that it’s not going to be as good as the original, so I didn’t think it’d have any better chance at holding my attention than the UK version. But, I must say your comparison may have changed my mind. I generally feel the same way where I like to get really invested in the characters and their emotions and so if the US version handles that aspect better, it’s definitely something i need to check out.

    Thank you very much for this review! I’m almost done catching up on Merlin on netflix, so I was going to need a new show to get invested in soon.

    • Marie Erving says:

      You’re welcome! I’m very happy that my post was useful.

      Yeah, I looked around at some of the reactions to the US version online, and a lot of people pointed out that they were surprised that they actually liked the US version given the track record. I guess you never know.

    • Psycho Gecko says:

      I tend to think the same way about the US version as opposed to the UK version. I’ve never seen the U.S. version of it though.

      I watched a few UK episodes and just didn’t get into it. I felt much more for the ghost, but there were odd interactions with other vampires and such that just made it seem like they needed to focus on the three core characters together.

      Buffy is like the McDonald’s of vampires. Not a lot of substance, all about a product that’s accessible to as many people as possible, and it has ingredients that aren’t entirely natural. It still has some good moments, but the vampire slayer’s greatest enemies never really seemed to be vampires.

      As for True Blood, I liked the first season, was ok on the second, and then they just kept tossing more myths into the mix and I had to stop. There are plenty of places where fae and vampires and shapeshifters can mix. Modern-day America that doesn’t feature chainmail and swords isn’t really one of them. Especially if another name for the fae might be aliens. And if they’re going to toss in so much hot vampire-on-human action, they might want to avoid a sex scene between two vamps where the guy twists the woman’s head completely around and just keeps going.

      Also, I don’t like it when they toss in too many supernatural species. If the appeal of the series is supposed to be vampires, you should focus on the vampires. I think it’s better to keep the variety of creatures to a minimum if you can or otherwise it all seems ridiculous. Like with True Blood. They have vampires and shapeshifters and possible were-thingies and faes and odd priestesses of Dionysus or something. It loses something in all that.

      That doesn’t mean it can’t work to have more. Look at some of the Underworld movies, the first especially. Now that worked, and no one had to summon up El Chupacabra to counter the other side’s Sasquatch allies. Come to think of it, that’s part of the reason I like the atmosphere of the very first Warcraft game when compared to all the elves, trolls, gnomes, ogres, gryphons, and so on of the later ones. It also seemed a lot darker since they didn’t have fairies or pixies floating about too.

      • Marie Erving says:

        We seem to have some different preferences, because I like it more when a series has a variety of supernatural creatures, especially when research on folklore has gone into the writing. Makes things more complicated and more interesting for me.

        I don’t know why you think Buffy is accessible to as many people as possible, though. It evolved instead of staying the same, and played with different themes and methods for storytelling. Rather, it’s a cult show, which means it has a small audience that loves it.

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