You may have seen this poll where British viewers choose the “10 most addictive TV series of all time” (which, in a poll like this, really means “10 most addictive TV series that are either still making new episodes or still running somewhere) and 9 of the 10 are U.S. shows. We Canadians are not alone in being lured away from home-grown product by the seemingly endless supply of American TV episodes.
Michael Deacon of the Telegraph thinks that this is because U.S. shows, labouring under ruthless commercial pressures, are “more exciting” than British shows. But while U.S. networks may be more ruthless about purging bad shows than British networks are, that doesn’t really have a lot to do with the good, successful shows, which is what we’re mostly talking about in a list like this. (Also, some of the shows on this list aren’t on broadcast TV and don’t have commercial breaks, meaning that their production model is closer to a BBC series.) Some of it may have to do with the fact that most U.S. shows, even the HBO ones, produce more episodes than a UK show. The more episodes there are, the longer you stay hooked, whereas a 6-episode series is hard to classify as “addictive,” simply because it’s over so quickly. Plus, there’s a grass-is-greener thing. This is purely anecdotal, but I remember some UK viewers telling me, at the time, how inferior Coupling was to Friends, and how baffled they were that US critics were into it.