Friday, April 20, 2012

The Perils of Being an Anglophile in America

I really want to see Fast Girls.

If you haven't heard of it (and I suspect you haven't), Fast Girls is a British movie about the UK women's relay team. You may recognize some of the stars, even if you don't know their names: Lenora Crichlow (Annie, "Being Human" - the UK version, of course), Noel Clarke (Mickey, "Doctor Who"), Bradley James, (King Arthur, "Merlin"), and Rupert Graves (a lot of stuff, but most recently Detective Inspector Lestrade, "Sherlock").

I am not ashamed to admit that the reason I originally wanted to see it was because of Bradley James. I am extremely shallow when it comes to a lot of things, especially movies. I have sat through a lot of truly terrible movies because of a particular actor. (If anyone has ever seen the version of Sherlock Holmes starring Gareth David-Lloyd as Watson, you'll know what I'm talking about.) I adore Bradley and have seen everything he's ever done, which is to say not much. So I was excited to learn that he'd be in an actual film -- and was even more excited to learn that it's a legitimate part, with a name and everything. After seeing the trailer, I want to see this movie for different reasons -- namely, that it looks like it's going to be ridiculously awesome.

Of course, the problem with watching British television shows is that they often do not air in the United States, and if they do, they tend to air several months later, when we have already learned everything that's happened because the internet exists and no one on Tumblr has any concept of spoilers. BBC America seems to only air episodes of "Top Gear" and "Kitchen Nightmares" interspersed with shows that aren't even British, though they may feature British actors, like "Battlestar Galactica" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

Granted, "Doctor Who" airs the same day in America as it does in England, and "Being Human" is only a few weeks behind. But shows like "Merlin" and "Sherlock", which air on completely different networks, are often months behind. If we fans in the United States (and other countries, of course) want to avoid spoilers, we essentially have to not get on the internet until these shows air in our own country. And as someone who spends upwards of 8 hours a day on the internet, that's just not feasible.

Then there is the wait for the DVDs in region 1 format. Not everyone has a multi-region DVD player and can buy the UK versions, which often are released while the show is still in its first run. In the case of "Merlin", the DVDs don't come out in America until the next season airs on Syfy, which is almost a year later.

Additionally, the problem with watching British television shows and liking the British actors who appear on these British television shows is that they tend to do British movies. And British movies tend not to play in the United States because we are not, in fact, Britain.

This isn't as much of a problem for me as it might be for other American Anglophiles, because I happen to live in New York City, and if a movie is going to come to the United States at all, even in limited release, then odds are it will come to New York. Though I have demonstrated that I am willing to travel to see an actor I like in a movie that I fear may not make it here. Last year I took a bus to Boston to see Colin Morgan's Parked at the Irish Film Festival, only for it to come to New York about six months later (twice, in fact -- I saw it both times). Others aren't so lucky and have to settle for waiting for it to come out on DVD -- assuming it comes out in region 1 format.

Why, then, do I watch these British television shows and movies with their British actors when it's so difficult, if not impossible, to do so? Because more often than not they're better than 90% of the crap that airs on American TV, and American studios obviously realize this, which is why they steal so many British shows and Americanize them. Really, they should just air the British version, because for every "The Office" there are five "Coupling", and after the travesty they had the nerve to call "Torchwood", I'm in favor of never Americanizing anything ever again. I'm looking at you, "Elementary".

Also, watching these British television shows and movies with their British actors means hot guys with British accents, and I've already admitted I'm shallow.

But mostly, it's because they're good. Better than good. "Downton Abbey" has become hugely popular, and when "Doctor Who" filmed in New York there were more than 400 people who showed up to watch (including me). More and more British shows are beginning to have a presence in America, filming on location or panels at conventions or actors popping up on late night talk shows. Hopefully soon it won't be such a trial to get these British television shows and movies with their British actors on American television and movie screens, whether it be in the form of DVDs being released more quickly or more stations hopping on the Brit bandwagon. Or BBC America getting its shit together and showing more than two shows.

Until that happens, I will be patiently waiting for Fast Girls in any form it arrives, and in the event it comes to New York, I will do my damnedest to see it as many times as possible, so that it can get the money it needs to go to other parts of America -- and the world. Because everyone should be able to see Bradley James on the big screen.


  1. I definitely feel you. It sucks that all my favorite shows are British and our access to them is so limited here in the states. And that movie does look awesome! I'm kind of dying to see it now. (I finally started watching Merlin a few months ago and my love from Bradley James now knows no bounds.)

    1. There's this show called "Miranda" that I've seen .gifs for all over Tumblr, and I'm desperate to watch it because it looks hysterical. But it's not on Netflix and there are no region 1 DVDs for it. I don't know how popular it is and if I can find it via *cough* other means, but it's only 12 episodes! It should not be this difficult to enjoy a television show!

  2. Brooklyn nerds who like British media (and Bradley James) unite! ;)

  3. I don't really see what the problem is, us Brits always have to wait months just to get the US shows so that we don't have to put up with this UK crap. Most of the stuff we get on television is American. The only good television shows from the UK have already finished airing as they were from the 70s-00s.

  4. Take a look at Only Fools and Horses; it's an oldie but a goodie! The entire collection is on Project Free TV. :)

    Oh, and Miranda's on there too... ;)