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John Cleese

Why I'm thankful for British political sitcoms — and why the U.S. versions always fall flat

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The demise of the American version of “House of Cards” due to the scandal swirling around its star Kevin Spacey caused nary a ripple of lamentation in our house. As we wrote last year shortly after Britain’s “Brexit” vote, American political satires like “House of Cards” always seemed to be wan, denatured versions of their U.K. forebears.

“House of Cards” was a perfect example: Based on an amazing series from the BBC, which itself was based on a biting series of novels by a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, the American “House of Cards” was afflicted with implausibility, wretched writing, and worse acting. The British version grew organically out of Britain’s unique...

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