10 October 2011


Do you ever wonder what foreigners think of your home country? I am pretty sure that I thought about this while in the U.S. but I think about it a lot more now.

While Americans may not occupy the largest amount of space, Americans are certainly represented more than any other nationality on television.

One of the biggest differences I have noticed is the emphasis on news. American TV is centered around news with numerous 24-hour news channels, dedicated news hours from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., the noon hour and then again from around 5 or 6 p.m. until prime time. Singapore does not offer many news channels and those that are offered aren’t always the best source of information. In fact, if one does not subscribe to the cable news bundle, no news stations will be available for that individual or family.

I have to admit, I was surprised to see so many familiar shows on our channel guide. Sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs and The Office; reality shows like The Amazing Race, America’s Next Top Model and American Idol; drama series such as Castle, all CSI shows and Law & Order and Food Network favorites Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay and, Paul’s favorite, Alton Brown are just as standard here in Asia as they are on any American television station.

Last week was a big week for Singapore – FRIENDS joined the daily line up. The broadcasting company did a lot to sell the series, which got me thinking about a recent interview featuring Lisa Kudrow I had heard.

My favorite radio show, National Public Radio’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, asked the FRIENDS star if fans of the show often thought that she was exactly like the cooky character she portrayed for 10 years. “They did,” she happily replied. “I mean, they especially expected me to be really nice….I just always felt like, oh, you’re going to be so disappointed.”  

There are some great episodes of the show that truly defined American culture over a decade. And so I wondered – what will the Asian people think of the infamous “smelly cat” and Phoebe’s hopeless pursuit at a musical career? How will they react to Monica’s and Ross’ secret “F-U” language?

What will they think about the episode when Monica explains the areas of a woman’s body that provide the most pleasure with a visual aid and then proceeds to excite herself as she goes over which areas men should hit when? “Seven! Seven!….Seven!”

Will they be as annoyed at Janice as all of America was? Will their hearts be torn in all directions each time Ross and Rachel appear to be getting together only to find some reason not to by the end of the episode? Will they show the episodes where Chandler is perceived as gay or the episodes where Rachel has a baby out of wedlock?

What about other popular U.S. shows? In an E! News clip, I saw an Italian priest asking a scantily clad Jersey Shore girl to cover up while walking on church grounds. Just as if she were walking down the boardwalk, she snapped at the priest. Awesome. Italy must hate America more than ever. At least America was smart enough to kick the Jersey Shore crew out of the country.

While we do not have Jersey Shore on our airwaves, we do have Jerseylicious, a somewhat similar show about the ever-popular Guidos. What do my fellow Singaporeans think of the over-tanned, over-bumped, over-made up, long-nailed, big personalities with the funny accents?

After watching Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen and both MasterChef U.S. and MasterChef Australia, I can infer that Americans are selfish, foul mouthed, money-hungry people who care for no one other than themselves. Australians, on the other hand, help all of their reality competitors, praise each other for doing a good job and feel sad for competitors if someone fails for any reason. I like them better.

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