Is Drama as a Genre Culturally Specific?

Drama as a genre is considered –like Comedy- are culturally specific. I have explored cultural specificity in the last blog post (hyperlink here).


The lecture this week was a discussion surrounding the adaptations and appropriations of Sherlock throughout history, starting from Edgar Alan Poe’s first detective narrative, published in 1841. Then onto more recent adaptations like ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Elementary’ The lecture then exploring the ideas that the adaptations are different from region to region.


In this post, I will explore the difference between the American and English genre of Drama (specifically crime drama)

The English genre of crime drama was firstly known as ‘English Country House,’ it was given this name because more time than not, the crimes took place in an English country house. The most notable writer of this time was Agatha Christie, specialising in writing English detective fiction.

Another Crime drama sub-genre is the, ‘locked room mystery’. Were a crime is committed under apparently impossible circumstances. E.g. a locked room that no one could enter or leave.

(More information on Crime drama here:
Remember, Wikipedia is not always a reliable source so I encourage you to use this source to get a vague understanding, then do further readings with the sources below.)

The America crime drama genre has slight differences compared to the UK dramas. This is necessary when trying to appeal to different demographics. Although there are some fundamental concepts that don’t change, these concepts are widely recognised by a variety of audiences. Similarities between America and English crime dramas are:

  • A hard boiled hero
  • The hero is separated from the villain by a very grey area (often the hero must do questionable things to beat the villain)
  • Usually a broke character

The America crime drama is known as ‘private eye’ drama. Characteristics of the ‘private eye’ – that are not prominently included in the English counterpart – include;

  • More romantic involvement to appeal to Americans need for sensational storylines.
  • A more comedic storyline

Romantic indulgent and comedy are two major ideas that Americans need in their television programs, for the programs to appeal to the audience.

These fundamental concepts of the detective narrative are different among these two cultures. This gives evidence to the notion that shows need to be adapted when being aired overseas. These points also raise the question. Are the English more sophisticated since their television programs appeal to their mind (focusing on good storylines and character development), rather than the America genre which appeals to the audiences expectation for comedy and romantic entanglement?

Let me know what you guys think in the comment section below.

Further Readings:

Journal article for Sherlock

Chapter in Book :Police and Crime Drama :Investigating Male Authority

Chapter in Book: Sherlock Holmes and the Authenticity of Crime.


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