When Syfy announced that it was making an American version of the British show Being Human, there were a range of reactions from “Great I like the idea but it’s too British” to “Why remake it when it’s current and good?” I have now caught up with all episodes of both versions (which is eight episodes in the US version and three seasons in the UK) and it’s interesting to see the differences.
There are a lot of similarities to the two version, especially when it comes to the basic storylines and the characters’ general back stories. The American producers say the stories will diverge further as the series continues (which makes sense particularly when you consider that an American season is about double the number of episodes as the British version–they did not even watch the second season of the UK version to ensure this), but for now there aren’t any real differences worth noting plot-wise. Instead, it is the smaller things that are different.
The names of all the characters were changed Mitchell became Aidan, Annie became Sally, George became Josh, etc. I am not entirely clear why they made the change other than to be able to say “They can’t be the same, they don’t even have the same names!” It’s not like they’ve Americanized the names more or something.
The real changes are more specific:
- Where Annie could touch objects and had a measure of control over her surroundings (she was dead for about two years prior to meeting George and Mitchell), Sally cannot interact with anything beyond the ability to sit down (she was dead for only about six months). This change, though seemingly small, allows for much more leeway when it comes to telling the story. It provides the American writers with more material for Sally’s journey, which is necessary to fill the episodes. Sally also does not choose not to go through her door, she misses it.
- Where Mitchell was born in the late 1800s and was only about a hundred years old, Aidan is over double his age. (Where Mitchell looks like a greasy mess, Aidan is clean and comparatively more attractive.) The important vampiric details that change are a vampire’s ability to be caught on film and have a reflection (in the UK they cannot, in the US they can). In both versions I find this character to be the least interesting.
- Where George/Josh are changed the most is the presence of his family. It is a long time before we meet George’s family, specifically his parents. In the US version, we meet Emily, Josh’s sister, right away. She has quickly become one of my favorite guest characters. Her presence really highlights why Josh needed to runaway from home (it is easy to think “He only transforms once a month, why can’t he be home for the rest?”) and gives his difficult journey a clearer point of comparison. Josh also did not turn Nora his girlfriend where George accidentally turned Nina.
One other difference, which is more of a America vs Britain (as opposed to the shows themselves) is the nudity and gruesomeness that they’re willing to show. In the American version there is more of a suggestion of nudity than actual nudity. This is neither good nor bad, but it is interesting to see. It makes the British version a bit darker and grittier because it feels like there are no boundaries.
I can’t say that one show is much better than another. Both are quite good in their own ways. I like having more episodes, which makes me happy for the American version. I like the changes they have made and I can’t think of any change that I have disliked. But at the same time it doesn’t feel like the British one was lacking and therefore needed the changes. I am excited to see where both shows go, especially as they split off into different worlds.
What do you think? Any preference?