Chinese Sitcom Accused of Stealing From ‘Friends’

Aug 9, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Some viewers of a Chinese comedy called "Ipartment" have started pointing out similarities between the show and "Friends," with accusations surfacing that the program has ripped off the comedy and other hit U.S. shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In its third season, "Ipartment" focuses on a group of 20-year-olds who live in Shanghai. One character is a university lecturer, similar to Ross in "Friends," while another character is a radio show host, similar to Joey on the U.S. show, the story notes. Some jokes are also similar not only to "Friends" but also to "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory," according to the piece.

According to the Chinese publication Global Times, the show’s producers sent an apology to an unnamed writer for using his jokes without permission. The producers allegedly acknowledged that they used jokes from "various sources," and offered to pay 10,000 yuan, or $1,569, in compensation for every 1,000 Chinese characters of material, the story notes.

But a representative for the show allegedly told another Chinese publication that it didn’t copy the American sitcom. "Comedies have stereotypes, like the handsome man, the gorgeous woman, the cheap man and so on. They have that in many comedies. Our creation is not plagiarism, but more a homage to the American sitcom," the rep said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

One Comment

  1. I can see if you just outright steal a joke without any sort of attribution but we’re supposed to light swipe signal if a show is “similar” to other shows and has jokes “like” them? What complete bullshit. I think this is more people taking shots at a successful series in a country well known for its lax attitudes towards copyright law. If it was a show called “People Who Like Each Other & Live in Expensive Apartments With No Jobs”, maybe they’d have a point. A character speaks at a University so they liken it to Ross but in what way does a radio host character tie it to Joey, an actor? Maybe they thought Frasier Crane was also on FRIENDS. With so much genuine creative theft going on in the US on a daily basis, I think this show is in the clear. In fact, it probably copies less from the US series it’s accused of ripping off than current US series running on every one of the allegedly injured networks.

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