Today, Mediático presents the first episode in its new, occasional, video blog series in which scholars and media practitioners reflect on aspects of Latin(o/a) American, Spanish and Portuguese media cultures. This inaugural vlog features Mediático founding co-editor Juan Ramos discussing an aspect of his Media and Cultural Studies PhD research on Latin TV dramas at the University of Sussex. His introductory text appears below the video. You can follow Juan on Twitter as @Juan_JRamos.
On METASTASIS / BREAKING BAD and the Popular US TV Series Remake Phenomenon
By Juan Ramos
The recent US premiere of Breaking Bad‘s Spanish-language version Metástasis on Unimás has prompted me to think about the phenomenon of Latin American remakes of US television series. Metástasis is only the latest example in a growing list of Latin American remakes of popular English-language series. Popular television dramas like Dallas (Los Rey), Grey’s Anatomy (A corazón abierto) or situation comedies like I Dream of Jeannie (Mi bella genio), Married with Children (Casados con hijos) or Modern Family (Familia moderna) have been reshot in recent years in countries like Colombia, Chile, Mexico or Argentina. As I explain in the video, the original formats are as closely respected as is reasonably possible considering the new national contexts to which the stories are relocated. Even visually, in terms of casting, graphics, soundtrack, and other aspects, the original and the Latin American versions tend to be extremely similar. Clearly, this is an indication of the steadfast protectiveness exerted by the US studios that own the series’ formats.
With some level of variation from country to country, the schedules of free-to-air television stations in Latin America are dominated by a combination of locally-produced programming or content generated by other Latin American nations (a situation mirrored to a great extent by the Hispanic networks in the United States). Most US shows are restricted to pay TV (cable and satellite) or platforms such as Netflix. The locally-produced remakes of US series, however, enjoy a wider exposure as they are broadcast on national free-to-air networks. Savvy viewers can take pleasure (or recoil in horror) at the prospect of comparing the different translations of some popular shows.