It's Married... With Children... in Russian
It's a typical night in Moscow. You have just finished supper and are now ready to sit down with your wife, children, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to watch some television. On the screen a sad-faced shoe salesman is anchored to his living room couch watching his own TV. Strutting behind him is his gaudily-dressed, shockingly red-haired wife. To the side his ditsy blonde-haired daughter and fairly intelligent son, who dreams of something bigger in his life, bicker over something or other.
Sounds a bit like Married... With Children, doesn't it? Well, truth be told, it actually is. The name of the show is Schastlivy Vmeste (translated to Happy Together) and it is an authorized copy of the former FOX sitcom featuring Russian cast members and dialog. It is also a huge hit in Russia, especially among younger viewers. According to a spokesperson for Russian channel TNT, Vmeste is the most popular scripted series among the 18 to 30 crowd.
The New York Times has an interesting article on this show, and how it has been transplanted into the Russian culture. It also discusses how television in the former Soviet Republic has changed over the years, and has flourished even during the presidency of hard-liner Vladimir Putin. There is also a video clip of the Russian Married that you can compare to the American version you previously watched.
By the way, Schastlivy Vmeste is but one of three popular comedies that have been imported from America. The other two are versions of The Nanny, which premiered in 2004 to huge success, and Who's the Boss?. All three shows are distributed by Sony Pictures Television International, which sells these shows to other countries then works with local producers to mold them into programs that fit their own culture.