Monday, July 15, 2013

The Present of a Delusion: Musings on an American Television Remake

And the remakes just keep on coming...

The Bridge now running on F/X is yet another American remake of a "foreign" series. The original, Broen/Bron (2011-) which focused on a case in which a Swedish female cop who may or may not have Asperger's syndrome, Saga Norén (Sofia Helin), and her laid back male Danish partner who is having a mid life crisis, Martin Rhode (Kim Bodnia), investigate the murder of two bodies they find lying on each side of the Danish and Swedish border on the bridge, the Öresund Bridge, that connects Denmark and Copenhagen to Sweden and Malmö. The American "creative" team, after toying with a Canadian and American border setting moved their remake of The Bridge south to the Mexican and Canadian border and made their cops, Sonya Cross and Marco Ruiz, American instead of Swedish and Mexican instead of Danish.

As far as I can tell the American remake of Broen/Bron has kept much of the original intact. One crucial thing that is similar between both shows, at least to this point, is a character trait of one of the protagonists of Broen/Bron and The Bridge, a character trait that neither series, at least at this point, makes explicit, Saga's and Sonya's, Asperger's Syndrome or autism.

At least one critic, John Elder Robison, "The Bridge and the End of Asberger's on TV", Vulture, 12 July 2013, takes Sonya Cross's supposed Asperger's Syndrome as the focus of his essay on the show. As I was reading Robison's essay which focused on the representation of those with Asperger's on recent American TV, an interest apparently stimulated by Robison's own Asperger's, I couldn't help but think of the recent reclassification of Asperger's as Austism Spectrum disorder by the influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The fact that the DSM once classified homosexuality as a mental disorder and still, if memory serves, classifies cults as mental disorders has never been free of cultural and political ideology, made me want to play along with this penchant of many in the psychological and psychiatric community for classifying social phenomena as biological disorders. So I thought I would offer a few of my own. So off I go. Will the DSM, I wonder, at some point classify the American television xenophobia related to subtitles as a kind of phobia? Will the DSM classify the American need to remake foreign television shows as a kind of narcissistic disorder? Will the DSM after tracking the American penchant for making mediocre versions of foreign television programmes they remake classify this delusion, I say delusion because the track record of Americans in remaking foreign television programmes is less than stellar, that they can just do it better as another type of narcissistic disorder? On a broader issue will the DSM classify the apparent American film and television penchant for literal mindedness as a form of infantile disorder?

It is a pity that Americans have really not been able to easily see the excellent Broen/Bron anymore than they have been able to see the equally superb Danish series Forbrydelsen (2007, 2009, 2012) and Borgen (2012-). As for me I won't be watching the remake. I have better things to do with my time than watch another American remake of yet another foreign television programme like watch third and series of Forbrydelsen, the second series of Borgen, and the upcoming second series of Broen/Bron.

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