Monday, October 16, 2006

They Like Us! They Really Do!


American-made dramas appear to be playing well in Europe, judging from “As U.S. Is Reviled Abroad, American TV Charms” in today’s Times:

In the parliaments and pubs of Europe, the United States may wallow in least-favored-nation status. But on European television, American shows have been enjoying a popularity not seen since the 1980’s heyday of “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

“What a difference,” said Gerhard Zeiler, chief executive of the RTL Group, the Luxembourg-based broadcaster that owns Five US and other channels across Europe. “Five or six years ago, you could barely find any U.S. series on the prime-time schedules of the market leaders. Now they are back, pretty much on all the major European commercial channels.”

RTL, which is owned by the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, recently created an all-American Tuesday night lineup at its flagship channel in Germany, the biggest commercial broadcaster in that country. It starts with “CSI: Miami,” a spin-off of the “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” franchise, and continues with “House,” “Monk” and “Law & Order.”

A whole night of American drama, rather than the drama of Americans in Iraq. Excellent.

Apparently better television equals better ratings overseas—but also a better image of Americans as complex characters or, one level of abstraction up, as better creators of drama. Love those unintended consequences.

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