Upper Middle Bogan is set to get the US treatment, but the prognosis isn't good.
By
Jeremy Cassar

21 Jan 2016 - 3:34 PM  UPDATED 21 Jan 2016 - 4:06 PM

Disclaimer!

I should mention up front that I’m not a fan of Upper Middle Bogan. And no, it has nothing to do with any SBS vs ABC allegiances. To me, it’s another Aussie show that places caricature over character, gutter comedy over genuine wit, and dated ‘Aussie’ humour that plays with dated ‘Aussie’ stereotypes. Like The Librarians before it, it’s a show where the creators and actors seem to be having more fun than members of the audience. Well, this member of the audience, anyway.

Whether or not you agree with me, I’m sure you’re still wondering why the hell the Americans have optioned the idea. When stripping away the Australian cultural setting, all you’re left with is a fish-out-of-water story, or basically the reversed plot of King Ralph.

Not to get down on the Aussie television industry. We’ve certainly seen that shows with fertile premises like Review and Wilfred can lead to equal or even superior works (though, one wonders how the US Wilfred would have fared without an Australian man-dog), and I’m always willing to be proved wrong, but I just can’t see how this decision will lead to anything but disappointment for all involved. 

Here’s why:

 

Bogans do not seamlessly translate to “trailer trash”; See Kath & Kim

Whatever you might think of the Turner/Riley phenomenon that was Kath & Kim, its American remake taught us that regardless of class similarities, bogan humour doesn’t translate to redneck humour. And the cultural significance of "rednecks" or "trailer trash" just isn't as big over there as boganism is here.

Poor Molly Shannon and Selma Blair’s careers are still recovering.

 

It’s too broad

Comedy has changed. Broad comedy is all but dead. We might still have a penchant for it here, but the cream of the crop are going beyond reductive stereotypes and shallow themes.

 

It’s running on family friendly CBS

While Upper Middle Bogan isn’t exactly hard hitting, it still uses dirt-funny to glean laughs. Sexual references will be softened and any utterances of the ‘F’ word will be struck from the script, leaving viewers with a muted version of an already muted show.

 

Its premise isn’t strong enough

The reason Wilfred and Review work is because they both have strong, transferrable premises. A man with a talking dog… a guy that reviews everything - both ripe for an international take. Same goes for The Office, as almost every culture has its own experience with office doldrums.

Once you strip away the Australian-ness, you’ve got a done-and-done conceit. A rich person is forced to spend time with less-rich people.

 

It’ll just be another all-white network sitcom

Every year, US TV networks option a bunch of white bread sitcoms that never go anywhere (The McCarthys, The Millers, Hank), and the ones that do are usually for the very young or elderly. More and more, the television climate is shying away from cultural homogeneity, and any remake of Upper Middle Bogan will come across dated, as our version already does.