London, According to American Sitcoms
Written by: Violet Myers
It seems a long running American sitcom just isn’t a long running American sitcom until its characters have popped themselves on to a plane and experienced all London has to offer. Here are some of the best, ripe with stereotype, digs at British food and reminders about the war! Tally ho!
American Sitcom – I Love Lucy
Episode: ‘Lucy Meets the Queen’
Long before Rachel Green ever set her eyes on Central Perk, the reigning queen of the American sitcom was none other than fame hungry funny gal Lucy Ricardo. In season 5 Lucy made her way to London town to meet another less amusing monarch.
Stereotypes Reinforced: People too posh to function, it’s a Beefeater free for all.
Landmarks Spotted: Big Ben and that old grumpy woman whose face we have plastered on our money.
Celebrity Brits: Seeing as it must have been shot in an LA studio, the Brits are missing in action from this classic sitcom.
Best Line: Ethel Mertz: “Imagine me meeting a Queen face-to-face, I’m scared!” Fred Mertz: “You’re scared? Think of the Queen!”
American Sitcom – The Simpsons
Episode: ‘The Regina Monologues’
The jet setting Simpsons crossed the pond to Blighty to find Grandpa’s lost long WW2 love, along the way they get trapped on a roundabout, nearly kill the Queen, get tried for treason and are forced to take Madonna home to America in a sack.
Stereotypes Reinforced: An endless supply of plummy and cockney voices, disastrous traffic, over passionate thespians and World War II digs. Jolly good show!
Landmarks Spotted: The family run into Ian Mckellen at The Globe, rear end the Queen at Buckingham Palace and narrowly miss being be-headed at The Tower of London.
Celebrity Brits: Ian Mckellen, J.K Rowling, Jane Leeves and Tony Blair all leant their voices to become part of Simpsons history. Well, wouldn’t you?
Best Line: Homer: “We’re big shot tourists from everyone’s favourite country, the USA. We saved your ass in Vietnam and shared our prostitutes with Hugh Grant!”
Photo: Infrogmation of New Orleans
American Sitcom – Ugly Betty
Episode: ‘London Calling’
In one of the final episodes of the comedy drama, set around a New York fashion magazine, not-so-ugly Betty heads over to our neck of the woods to do what Brits do best, binge drinking!
Stereotypes reinforced: Rivers of posher than posh men, Union Jacks fluttering from every lamp post – American TV writers must think we eat the ruddy things for breakfast.
Landmarks Spotted: Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament, London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, The London Eye, The National Gallery… Phew! That’s a busy Betty!
Celebrity Brits: Ashley Jenson returns to be stereotypically Scottish once more, we’re surprised they didn’t paint her face blue and get her to wave a deep fried Mars.
Best Line: Betty: “At this one fashion show they served a sandwich which was bread, butter and french fries. Carbs, fat and carbs it was a miracle!”
American Sitcom – Friends
Episode: ‘The One With Ross’s Wedding’
This two part episode shows all of the Friends, minus a very pregnant Phoebe, travelling to the old smoke to attend Ross’s second wedding to duller-than-Miliband’s-Twitter-account Emily, provoking American men to never so much as look at a British woman again.
Stereotypes reinforced: The old ‘you would be speaking German if it weren’t for us’ rears its head again. Guest cameos are either so posh they’re practically falling out of their seats or as ‘cockney’ as Dick Van Dyke.
Landmarks Spotted: Westminster Abbey and The Tower of London are seen in the background. While other landmarks make appearances in Joey’s pop-up map.
Celebrity Brits: Jennifer Saunders and Tom Conti do Britain proud as Emily’s bickering parents, while Fergie and Richard Branson make fantastic cameos. But Hugh Laurie blows them all out of the Thames with his portrayal as ‘gentleman on the plane’ who is unhappy to be sat next to a chatty Rachel.
Best Line: Joey: “Man! YOU are Westminster-crabby!”
American Sitcom – Family Guy
Episode: ‘Viewer Mail Two’
Family Guy is no stranger to having a little fun at our expense, with Peter joining the world’s worst American Football team ‘The London Silly Nannies’ in Season Four and being sent to prison by a dastardly English pub landlord in Season Three. But this particular episode, in which Family Guy is reimagined if the family were British, is particularly biting by Jove!
Stereotypes Reinforced: Pretty much all of them. From bad teeth and weird food to Benny Hill and poor weather.
Landmarks Spotted: Just a troupe of bobbies and a splattering of Union Jacks. Although props to the attention to detail of the Griffins living in a terraced house.
Celebrity Brits: Chris O’Dowd and Tom Hollander make guest appearances in small roles, while Ioan Gruffudd puts on his best Prince Charles.
Best Line: Random woman who is with her partner: (while fighting their way through the pouring rain) “Ah! I love summer!”
Photo: Gage Skidmore
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