The IT Crowd. Friends. How I Met Your Mother. Even in the West, these popular sitcoms have influenced other shows. But in China, one show isn't exactly "inspired" by these programs.
The Shanghai television program in question is Ipartment (which loosely translates as "Love Apartment" in Chinese). It features a couple of guys, a couple of girls, and an apartment—and a whole bunch of storylines and dialogue you've enjoyed before. (Ha, not that Western sitcoms are a breeding ground for novel ideas!)
Ipartment's first season was apparently original, but its latest season, season three, is raising eyebrows in China. People are pointing out how brazenly it copies Western shows. The sitcom does tweak the characters and their relationships, but side-by-side comparisons confirm just how closely Ipartment seems to regurgitate shows like How I Met Your Mother and Friends.
Legally, this brazen copy might exist in a gray zone as brand new Chinese regulations state that the country's TV studios cannot remake foreign shows. That's why Ipartment, which steals from a whole bunch of shows and not a single one per se, could be "okay". Yes, I know, that doesn't make much sense! But, hey, if a Chinese variety show is willing to copy Conan's opening credits...
Online in China, some are criticizing Ipartment for its lack of originality, and there's even a blog that calls out and compares each rip off (one thing Westerners forget is that it's often Chinese who first point out rip-offs and express displeasure over them). Others say that the show is good, so it doesn't matter. Good, maybe, very familiar, definitely.
Compare for yourself.
Eric Jou contributed to this report.
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