Popular British Sitcom Comes to U.S., Maybe Minus Jews

CBS wants to bring "Friday Night Dinner" to America, but the Goodman family may no longer be Jewish.

08/28/14
Editorial Intern
Photo Galleria: 
The Goodman family, featured in the British sitcom "Friday Night Dinner." channel4.com
The Goodman family, featured in the British sitcom "Friday Night Dinner." channel4.com

What’s Friday Night Dinner without Jews?

It's CBS that's asking the question. Friday Night Dinner, the British sitcom featuring the wacky Jewish Goodman family, might be moving to American TV. The show was so popular in Britain it was renewed for a third season. The catch: CBS might cut the show’s Jewish flavor.

Beyond the show's ethnicity, always a sticky wicket, the show has other challenges to contend with. NBC, in conjunction with producer Greg Daniels, attempted its own adaptation in 2011. Praised for his success with The Office — also originally a British program — and Parks and Recreation, Daniels seemed to have the touch NBC needed for a hit adaptation. 

But American critics had a pareve response to his effort, which didn't air past the first pilot.  According to thefutoncritic.com, it was deemed “bizarre,” then condemned because it was “Just. Not. Funny.”

Across the pond, the Jewish eccentricity of the original clearly works: the third season premiered to an audience of almost three million viewers.

 

Will our Friday Night Dinner feature a weekly challah? Stay tuned ...

editor@jewishweek.org
 

Last Update:

08/31/2014 - 17:05

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Oh great, another thinly veiled piece of anti-semitic garbage about how disgusting Jews are. I am not disgusting, and neither is my family or friends. Bad taste.

You said: "But American critics had a pareve response to his effort, which didn't air past the first pilot. According to thefutoncritic.com, it was deemed 'bizarre,' then condemned because it was 'Just. Not. Funny.'"

It seems you might be unfamiliar with the American television production process. The Greg Daniels pilot never aired in the U.S. (or anywhere, for that matter) because it was never picked up. As far as the "bizarre" and "Just. Not. Funny." comments go...I can't find those anywhere on the site you linked to. The knocks against the Daniels version were that it was too niche -- NBC feared affiliates in markets without significant Jewish populations wouldn't want to carry it -- and some of the supporting casting needed retooling. But it was pretty much universally agreed that Daniels was the best person for the job.

By relying on the British team -- which has never adapted anything for the U.S. market -- and making some "creative changes," this isn't going to be "Friday Night Dinner." They should have stuck with the Daniels version but sold it to an HBO/Showtime.

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