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“Original Good, Adaptation Bad”: Investigating the Deeper Reasons behind Australian Audience Preference for the Nordic Versions of Forbrydelsen and Bron/Broen

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With reference to focus group interviews undertaken in Australia 2016, the paper investigates respondents’ differing opinions of the original Nordic versions of the drama series Forbrydelsen and Bron/Broen and their Anglophone renditions The Killing, The Bridge and The Tunnel. The findings clearly reflect that respondents take a more positive stand on the original series, whereas
the Anglophone adaptations are viewed more critically in an almost knee-jerk fashion, and I analyse the possible reasons why this may be. However, instead of only arguing that these stark differences in reception are caused by the originals’ superior quality insofar as story-telling, acting and aesthetics are concerned – as do the respondents – I investigate the reasons behind why an
Anglophone audience such as my Sydney-based respondents may receive the Nordic originals more generously than the American and British-French versions.
These reasons include the fact that Australian respondents in actual fact have very little knowledge of and practical experience with the Nordic countries and with Nordic television, which in turn makes the Nordic series seem ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ to them. On top of, and possibly because of, this assumed realness and authenticity of the series, respondents find the Nordic
series (and societies) exotic in a liberal and progressive manner, which again augments the series’ perceived quality, causing respondents to blame their own Australian (and American) TV industry as well as their own Australian society for not being progressive enough. Respondents show a general fatigue with what they perceive as a general American(-ised) way of doing TV drama and
they very much view the Nordic series as the polar opposite to this and hence a breath of muchneeded fresh air(time).
To back up my claims, I contrast the Australian respondents’ opinions with Danish respondents’ opinions of the same original series. Because, as it turns out, Danish respondents have much less positive and more balanced opinions towards the original series, resembling the Australian respondents’ opinions of the Anglophone adaptations. Finally, I also point to a comparable study
on the Danish and foreign reception of the Pan-European crime series Mord uden grænser/The Team, which had similar findings (Jacobsen and Jensen 2016).
Original languageEnglish
Publication year23 May 2017
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2017
EventMedia Mutations 9: The Format Factor - Universitá di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Duration: 23 May 201725 May 2017


ConferenceMedia Mutations 9: The Format Factor
LocationUniversitá di Bologna
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