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September 1, 2015

Brit Tries To Figure Out American TV

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 8th 2010 4:02PM
Americone DreamAs we watch television, we sometimes forget that the things we see on American shows might seem odd or make no sense to viewers in other countries. I don't think that's true for 98% of the stuff we have (most things are universal), but I bet there are some differences in cultures or some things that just aren't completely understood or believed.

Anna Pickard of The Guardian set out to find out if some very American scenarios we see on TV all the time actually are true. Do police officers eat donuts all the time? Do women eat ice cream right out of the container when they break up with someone? Do people actually walk down the street carrying groceries in a paper bag?

I don't really understand a few of these because they seem like something that people in all countries do. Don't they have paper bags in England? I know every store has plastic bags too, but I don't think carrying paper bags down the street is an American thing.

Eating directly out of an ice cream container? I do that even when I haven't broken up with someone. There must be some other things on American TV worth investigating. Maybe how doors always seem to be unlocked so characters can come and go. As for paper bags, I'd like to know why there's always something heavy sticking out of the top of the bags all time when in real life it would be at the bottom, like soda or a bag of oranges.

[thanks to Marcelo for the tip]

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I think the american thing about "eating icecream out of the container after a breakup" stems from trying to give the viewer the impression the female is so despondent over her loss that she can't even be bothered to place it in a bowl, and assumes she will eat the whole thing anyway,(because apparently a despondent female must make up for the lack of eating properly while dating to impress upon her male that she is dainty, thin, health conscious and inexpensive to maintain... )
I have never been that worked up over the loss of a relationship, but then my parents instilled in me a belief that I am worth better than someone who would hurt me so deeply. I just get mad,and move on to better game. and Yes, Chocolate is really the best comfort food when bummed out. No not all of us feel the need to binge when bad things happen. Some of us go the opposite way, and forget to eat.

March 09 2010 at 7:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a British girl I have to say most of us don't sit with an entire tub of ice cream to drown my sorrows over being dumped. An entire bar of chocolate yes but not ice cream. Maybe its because its too cold here most of the time to eat ice cream straight from the tub, I mean doesn't the tub freeze your hands when you hold it??

Also we really don't have paper bags here. I've been given a paper bag a few times, mostly as a promotional thing and they've always been small easy to carry by the handles. A few shops, like Topshop do paper bags, but their quite a novelty. Food wise, paper bags just don't exist, to me they're a very American thing.

Oh and Manda, those red cups are iconic, I've only ever seen them on American TV. To me they are very American high school/college things. We generally drink out of white/clear plastic cups in the UK.

March 09 2010 at 5:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow. I never knew the red plastic cups I drink from every day was so iconic. o_O Why?

March 09 2010 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dan, as you're not a girl, I don't think you can really comment about the ice cream binging. Size, sure... feminine use as comfort food, no. Come back as Danielle (or Bridget Jones) and we'll talk.

As to paper, which I prefer, it's really very strong (I know it doesn't seem like that would be the case), and even stronger when you double-bag them. Trader Joe's, where I do most of my shopping, has the awesome handles, which is way better. For regular use (including cans and other heavy objects) they work very well. Can you carry a 25-lb. turkey in one? Yes, if you double-bag it and it's the only thing in there and you support the bottom, rather than using the handles. (And the same turkey in a plastic bag causes the handles to slice into my hands.)

Plus, I use the paper bags over again as trash bags, and for my recycling (just carry the whole bag down to the bin and pitch it in). The plastic ones I collect and return to the store, where they (hopefully) recycle them. They say they do, but who knows.

March 09 2010 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Your welcome, Bob.

March 08 2010 at 7:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite thing about her article are the comments and reading where someone used the word "Ossome." Took me a few minutes to realized that they meant "Awesome."

March 08 2010 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@No1Dad: That as may be, but it's not normal practice for girls to buy them regularly in the UK, and cry into it when they get dumped by their boyfriends. Maybe it's not in the US either, but that's the impression US TV gives.

@BC: Not convinced. Those paper ones always look damn difficult to hold (from underneath?) on US TV, whereas plastic ones have nice handles. The paper ones with handles... I'd be scared that paper handle's gonna rip. Anyway, they're trying to get us to buy canvas bags these days to save the environment these days.

@Ryan: They can also hang the donuts on their ears because of the hole, while they apprehend suspects.

March 08 2010 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's always bothered me that invariably sticking out of the paper bag of groceries is a baguette. Sure I buy baguettes occasionally, but people on TV only seem to eat baguettes.

March 08 2010 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CherrySlurpees's comment

Oh yes baguettes and flowers! Why flowers? I've never made a grocery list and wrote down 'flowers' along with milk and Hamburger Helper.

March 08 2010 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is actually logic behind why cops eat donuts. Mainly it's because donut places tend to be open 24 hours, and where for a long time one of the few places where a officer on the beat can stop to use the bathroom and get coffee in the middle of the night.

March 08 2010 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No, paper bags aren't used in the UK. We just have plastic ones. Paper ones just rip, surely. So, that looks odd to us. Also, I think it's the SIZE of those ice cream tubs that astonishes us Brits, as American portions are - shall we say - a little on the large side.

March 08 2010 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Dan's comment

You can buy ice cream in the same size cartons in the UK.

March 08 2010 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

Actually, no. The paper sacks are stronger than the plastic ones as long as you pick up and support them correctly. But we're supposed to buy the reusable sacks now, which are made from Tyvek or something like it and will probably still be here when life on Earth is wiped out by the next asteroid hit.

March 08 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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