I often shudder when I hear the word remake. The connotations that we apply to the word often revolve around statements such as, "it'll never be as good as the original," or "another remake?" — which are entirely fair points of view. Remakes like Skins and The Inbetweeners are often showcased as perfect examples of why remakes shouldn't happen. However, occasionally there are remakes that are watchable and, in some cases, prove to be better than the original. "Impossible" I hear you say, and I understand; it's rare, but it does happen. Allow me to enlighten you with some examples of this below.
Shameless was created by Paul Abbott for the UK's Channel 4 and aired from 2004–2013. Partly based on Abbott's life, the series followed the dysfunctional Gallagher family and became highly successful in the UK. Showtime re-imagined the series for the US, landing acting legends like William H. Macy and Joan Cusack in lead performances. Originally, Shameless US mirrored storylines from the British series, almost identically. About halfway through the first season it branched out into its own storylines and became less of a remake and more of its own original series. The acting and writing in Shameless US has often been praised, specifically acting performances from lead actress Emmy Rossum and also from Cameron Monaghan (who also stars on Gotham). Often filled with hilarity and heart-warming scenes, Shameless US has just finished it's sixth season and will return for its seventh in 2017.
VERDICT: Despite Shameless UK being the original, Shameless US took the characters and developed them further. Relationships and the theme of family are also more prevalent in the remake. The creators of Shameless US took a great concept and made it even better — it became its own series and surpassed the original on so many levels. It is rare, but in this case, the remake is better than the original.
2. V: The Series
The original V is a cult classic that ran from 1983–1985. It premiered as a two hour mini-series on NBC and not long after another mini-series entitled V: The Final Battle was ordered. Despite the misleading title, it wasn't V's final battle since, due to the success, NBC ordered a weekly series entitled V: The Series. Unfortunately, due budget cuts, the infamous alien voice-filter was cut, which caused continuity problems. The series became more '80s orientated and the fashion and plot lines changed from the previous mini-series'. After 19 episodes, the series was cancelled and ended on a large cliffhanger. V has become a cult classic and has been re-run all over the world with Jane Badler's Diana often called one of the greatest villains of all time.
Creator Kenneth Johnston wasn't a fan of the weekly series, and decided to retcon it in a later book. Despite always wanting to continue the series (ignoring the weekly series), ABC decided that instead of a sequel they would make a reboot. V premiered to high ratings in 2009, completely re-imagined and a lot darker than the original. Morena Baccarin starred in the lead role as Anna (the equivalent of the original's Diana). Unfortunately, it didn't last very long, despite the fact that the creators re-used some of the cast from the original series including the incredible Jane Badler (who's new character was also called Diana). ABC cancelled V after two seasons and the series ended on a cliffhanger — perhaps even bigger than the original's cliffhanger.
VERDICT: Despite being a great re-imagining, the original V remains superior.
3. Queer As Folk
Created by Russell T. Davies, Queer as Folk was one of the first ventures for RED Production Company (responsible for hit TV series Happy Valley). Queer as Folk was revolutionary and became pirated across the world. Starring Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) and Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), the series was commended for conveying a realistic portrayal of the gay community. After a successful first series, it returned for two extended episodes to wrap things up. Less than a year later, Showtime launched a US remake of Queer as Folk. Just like the Shameless remake, the series was almost identical to its UK counterpart. After a couple of episodes, Queer as Folk US completely evolved into its own show and ran for a successful five seasons.
VERDICT: The original Queer as Folk was revolutionary and produced some of the biggest TV actors of today. Having said that, Queer as Folk US took the characters to a whole new level. The creators of the US version allowed us to connect with the characters on more of an emotional level. Moreover, Queer as Folk UK only has 8 episodes whereas Queer as Folk US ran for 83 episodes. Similar to the Shameless remake, the creators took a great concept and made it even better. So, despite how revolutionary the original was, Queer as Folk US remains superior.
4. Chasing Life
The hit ABC Family drama Chasing Life was actually a remake. Adapted from a Spanish language television series called Terminales, it also focused on a young woman named April who is diagnosed with leukemia. It ran for one season with an interesting ending. Italia Ricci stars in the US remake, which was extremely successful upon its first run. Unfortunately, ABC Family cancelled the series during their revamp to Freeform, so we were left on a huge, but rather poetic, cliffhanger.
VERDICT: Having never seen Terminales, I cannot fairly judge on my own, but considering Chasing Life was a huge success and one of my all-time favorite shows, I think it’s pretty easy to see that the general consensus is that Chasing Life is the superior show.
5. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Okay, so technically this started off as a movie. Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a 1992 horror comedy film starring Kirsty Swanson. Joss Whedon disagreed with the director’s take on the concept, and called his lack of control on the project "crushing." Years later, the concept was re-imagined as the highly successful Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV series that ran from 1997–2003. The series was everything that the film was not: well written, directed and thought out. Despite having comedy, the series never felt like a comedy show and character development was key to its success. Often called one of the greatest shows of all time, Buffy launched the career of Sarah Michelle Gellar and created a legacy that still lives on to this day.
VERDICT: I’m not even going to explain this one. Of course the TV remake is better.
So there you have it, living proof that a remake can be equally as good and often exceed the success of the original. It becomes apparent from looking at the shows on this list that the key to a good remake is to use the source material to get started, but then become something different — something original. The shows on this list highlight that no matter how good you might think something is, someone else may come along and show you that even greatness can be improved.