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How the American Ghosts is different from the BBC original (and why that's a good thing)

Give the show a try before you judge

Ghosts CBS and BBC
Image credit: CBS/BBC

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We all hate remakes. Well, we usually hate them. But just because most remakes are bad doesn’t mean that we should write all of them off. Luckily, one of the shows that is great in its reboot form (though the two pilots are almost identical) is the American version of the BBC sitcom Ghosts.

The reason why this remake for an American audience is good is because the show is translated, not only in the types of characters it portrays (from American history as opposed to English), but in other key ways too. Since we’re no longer on an English mansion, and now an American one, we don’t have a noblewoman, caveman, WWII army officer, and a crooked MP. Instead, we have a Gilded Age baroness, a finance bro, a Revolutionary soldier, a jazz singer, and a viking. But the big change that cements the CBS Ghosts into my (to be fair, probably very American) heart is the dynamic between the main living couple of Ghosts - Sam and Jay.

Still promotional images from Ghosts
Image credit: CBS

This may be the American in me, but I can't resist the sugar-sweet charm of Ghosts' leading couple. Nothing against BBC Ghosts leads Alison and Mike, who are both very funny and relatable, but Sam and Jay have a really warm relationship that I just can't get enough of. For one, they are constantly facing their problems as a team. But they also listen to each other and respond to each others needs in a way that's nice (and surprisingly rare) to see on television.

But of course, the biggest change that their dynamic has on the show is that Jay gets really involved with the ghosts as people, becoming involved in their lives. Not only does Jay talk to the ghosts in his one way manner, he even strikes up friendships with them - most notably playing Dungeons & Dragons with Pete. But though Jay and Pete are close (as close as a ghost and living person can be), Jay is excited to get involved in everyone's lives and is thoughtful about the ghosts, treating them as individuals and coming to care about them just as much as Sam does.

Still promotional images from Ghosts
Image credit: CBS

In the BBC Ghosts, as much as we love the ghosts, they do, throughout the show, feel like a hindrance to Alison and Mike's lives - something that is central to how the BBC's version of the show came io its end. SPOILERS. At the end of the BBC Ghosts, it felt fitting for Alison and Mike to leave, to make a new life with their new baby. The ghosts are treated as the meddling and needy aunts and uncles, the annoying in-laws. They're loved, but it's tough to live with them. In the American Ghosts, the ghosts are like Sam and Jay's friends (and kids too, because they can be real childish).

It's a very different take, of course, from the BBC show, but I think that it makes for a fresh viewing experience that makes it enjoyable to watch both shows, because you're getting something different from each of them. Though it is totally understandable why a young couple would be harried at finding that they're living in a house full of ghosts, CBS's Ghosts leans into its earnestness and warmth, in a way that provides something different - and I love that.

Ghosts has become a phenomenon in the UK, America, and around the world. With CBS's third season of Ghosts underway, get to know your favorite apparitions with a guide to how the ghosts of Ghosts died, where to watch both Ghosts shows, a guide to the casts of Ghosts, why BBC's Ghosts ended, and learn about the other Ghosts the original show planned but never used. We even have some thoughts on why the American Ghosts has its own worthy charms.

Ad you can watch full convention panels with both the cast of BBC's Ghosts and CBS' Ghosts exclusively here on Popverse.

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Tiffany Babb avatar
Tiffany Babb: Tiffany Babb is a professional lurker (aka critic) who once served as Popverse’s deputy editor and resident Sondheim enthusiast.
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