x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Modern Iranian family

Why do the Iranians television executives copy from the Americans when they can draw on a rich history dating back 6,000 years?

When Iranian fans of the American comedy mock­umentary series, Modern Family, watched a home-grown series called Haft Sang, they could be forgiven for experiencing the feeling of déjà vu. That was because the Iranian series was strikingly similar to the American one, except for plot changes made to abide by Iranian moral codes.

As The National has reported, there is a long history of the Islamic Republic offering the sincerest form of flattery to American mass media. Over the years, there have been Farsi-language versions of movies and television series such as 50 First Dates, We’re No Angels, Two Much, Prison Break and Lost. (It is not reported whether the Iranian Lost made any more sense than the American version.)

On one level, this seems a simple reflection of the ubiquitous appeal of American popular culture. But on another level, it seems astonishing that when Iranians can draw on a rich history dating back 6,000 years, why would television executives resort to copying the format of three modern American families that vacillate between merely unusual and verging on the dysfunctional. And especially when their culture was the source of the ultimate story of stories, Scheherazade.