The New British Invasion: UK television’s continued success in America

Kedge Stokke

Log on to any social media site these days, and it’s hard to miss a post, meme, or GIF from a British television show.

Fandoms such as “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” have taken over the internet abruptly in the past year with thousands of memes, posts, gifs and tweets rolling in every day. People simply could not wait to get a glimpse of Peter Capaldi as the latest incarnation of the Doctor or find out how Sherlock survived Reichenbach.

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According to Kayla Wong, an RA in Newsom Hall, several parents have asked if channels like BBC One are available in the dorms.

This phenomenon has many wondering the same thing: Why is the Unites States so obsessed with UK productions? It may have something to do with the charming accents, quick wit and compulsive tea drinking, but it also doesn’t hurt that these shows are more easily accessible than ever before.

“It’s all over Netflix, so it’s easy to watch,” said sophomore criminology major, Shannon Obrien. “It’s just now starting to get popular.”

Before websites like Netflix and Hulu, viewing TV shows from other countries was not always an option. At the very least, it was much more difficult to view.

“British TV was a lot less accessible,” undeclared freshman Haley Block said. “It started on the internet, and people started talking about it.”

Then again, it could also be that Americans seem to have always had a fascination with British people. They have been making cameos in our media for years, and now, in turn, the internet has given us access to their entertainment.

That’s how sophomore health and exercise science major, Jerry Lanning explains it:

“I think its something to do with Harry Potter,” he said. “Harry Potter shifted our focus to the British and made us pay attention on their entertainment.”

So what is so different about content of British TV that makes Americans so attracted to it?

There are dozens of possible answers. Lanning believes it could have something to do with the body images seen in “My Mad Fat Diary,” and across the board. Maybe people like to see someone on screen who looks like someone who they can relate to.

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“Some scenarios in U.S. television are unrealistic and the physical appearance seems to be more important in casting than anything,” Lanning said. “Maybe the British don’t care so much about how a person looks on screen, but more on what fits the roll.”

Regardless of how the obsession got started, this new trend has become prevalent in our society.

“It’s a big pop-culture thing,” Block said.

But will this be trendy in the future? Is this something that will fizzle out over time? Some are not so sure about British TV and its influence on the American public.

“I think it could go either way,” Block said. “If they stick with the audience they have now, it will get bigger.”

Other fans such as Herman, are convinced that these shows have grabbed such a big portion of our attention that we will be seeing these and other British productions continue to increase in popularity.

“It started as a trend, but it’s here to stay,” she said.

Collegian A&E Writer Kedge Stokke can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @KedgeStokke.