System and Culture in Format Adaptation

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This article explores strengths and weaknesses of common methods and frameworks in studying format adaptation, primarily in television series, but with some findings applicable for television entertainment formats as well. The article problematises how work on transnational remakes of television series as well as studies of format adaptation in general predominately focuses on either using text-based readings of cultural similarities and differences or explanations rooted in the media system such as, for example, a new channel’s profile or norms and traditions in the programming interface of a particular channel or country. The article examines the dominant literature and theories on the subject, illustrating that there is an ongoing debate among researchers as to which framework is more powerful and precise in accounting for format adaptation. It becomes apparent that studies favouring the one approach greatly over the other are often comparing apples and oranges. Finally, the article aims to show how existing research most often compares original and remake in their final forms, overlooking the creation process, the dilemmas of the creatives behind the transformations, and the effect their preconceptions have on the finished results.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSERIES - International journal of TV series narratives
Pages (from-to)107-119
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • series
  • national culture
  • media system
  • format trade
  • remakes


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