Hey, this Chinese sitcom iPartment sounds great! From ONTD:

A popular sitcom is accused of copying classic U.S. series such as Friends, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.

The show, iPartment, adheres the old sitcom trope of following a group of 20-something friends as they experience life in a big city. But sharp-eyed fans have noticed that the series seems to be uncomfortably close to some specific American hits. The stars of the series live together in two neighbouring apartments in a tower block – exactly the situation in Friends, but with New York transferred to Shanghai. One of the characters is a university lecturer, and another a radio host – not a world away from palaeontologist Ross and actor Joey.

The bizarre parallels led to an online backlash from Chinese watchers of iPartment, who took to micro-blogs to express their anger and post screenshots and video clips highlighting the similarities.

Oh no! Not the microblogs! AHHHHHH!

‘Many lines and scenes have been completely ripped off from American shows,’ a web user named Grace told the Global Times.

‘I thought it was shameful to do this. It is an insult to the American TV producers and an insult to the screenwriters and producers of original Chinese TV shows.’

Another incredulous fan wrote, ‘Is [iPartment] only intended for those born after 1990, who have not watched Friends?’, according to the Daily Telegraph.

These are totally valid criticisms about the show’s plagiarism, but it is funny to incredulously ask if a show called iPartment is only for people born after 1990. Uh, yeah. It’s called iPartment!

While the show has been on the air since 2009, it has recently started to reach a much wider audience after being picked up by leading cable networks. Last weekend, producers were forced to admit taking ideas from others, as they publicly apologised for using a comedian’s jokes without attribution, and offered to compensate him for the plagiarism.

However, a spokesman for the programme denied stealing from Western shows – and instead blamed the similarities on a lack of imagination in resorting to sitcom clichés. ‘We didn’t copy the American sitcom,’ he said. ‘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 handsome man, the gorgeous woman, the cheap man, you know, stereotypes. Very good homage. This show does sound great, though. iPartment! Hahaha. iPartment!!!!!!

Comments (35)
  1. The set designer’s concept was “Central Perk in a Space Station”.

  2. “What about that Hu Jintao, guys? Could he be a better General Secretary of the Communist party of China?” – Chan Bing

  3. Gotta give them points for honesty. “This isn’t plagiarism, it’s a show full of over-used cliches” is probably closer than any netwrok executives would come to honesty in America.

  4. To be fair, aren’t most 20-something sitcoms basically the same show with a different cast?

  5. “We need someone to comment on the accusations of sitcom plagiarism! Who can we get?”

    “I found a web user named Grace, sir.”

  6. What is the world coming to when the multi-camera sitcom no longer represents the apex of creativity and fresh ideas? I can’t handle it, whats next, is someone going to make the discovery that another show made crude, groan worthy sex jokes BEFORE Two and a Half Men?

  7. “We need to contact someone to comment on these accusations of sitcom plagiarism! Who can we get?”

    “I found a web user named Grace, sir.”

  8. I can’t wait for the American adaptation of this!

  9. They should have known better than to get a head writer known as “The Chinese Carlos Mencia”.

    • the thing is: China doesn’t give a fuck about intellectual property rights. my uncle is a business school professor and talks about how Chinese students hand in blatantly ripped-off and plagiarized papers all the time and they don’t understand why or how it is wrong.

      that’s also why online piracy is so prevalent there.

      • This is true about more than that. I deal with Chinese manufacturers all the time at work and they will deliberately disobey you to save money because I swear they think that the agreements we come to are meaningless. I think it’s an anti-Western bias, but based on my and everyone at my company’s experience, they will take any measure possible to shortcut or just not do what they are paid to do.

        • So unchecked capitalism under a corrupt government that has little to no regard for the health, safety and general well-being of its citizens is not the ideal? Dammit. There goes my dream of starting a Dickens Village manufacturing plant / orphanage. Sorry Ron Paul, we’ll get ‘em in 2016!!

          • Another thing contributing to that is their history; the first emporer had a guy working under him called Li Si (spelling?). He followed a philosophy called Legalism which is basically adherence to hard and fast rules and regulations. Chinese history refers to that guy and anyone associated with the first empire as “totes dickish”, so they decided to go with Confucius (fun fact: his Chinese name literally means Mr. Kong) whose attitude was basically “Look at the strength and nature of a social relationship before you look at laws”. It’s probably not entirely malicious, just that Western-style laws are kinda of a new thing in China.

  10. Man, I sure hope they’re not trying to be to faithful to the formula set by Friends, only set in China. Otherwise, things are gonna get pretty awkward when Ross has his 2nd child.

  11. You know what they call Chinese sitcoms in China? Sitcoms.

  12. I am really psyched that they worked Apple branding into it, though I would much rather watch a sitcom based on the lives of neighbors at the FoxConn dorms.

  13. Yeah, but Friends had a monkey on the show which means THEY copied Shanghai retroactively. Your move, supposedly linear timeline of the universe.

  14. This show may be a rip off, but I think we can all agree that the Gunther’s Chinese Equivalent is much classier:

  15. Serious moment: I was recently in China for school, and most of the young people I met love American television. Sometimes really bad American television. However, barred from speaking out against the CPC, this is pretty much political activism.

  16. “What’s a fucking homage?”–the ghost of Jack Warner.

  17. There’s iPartment clips on YouTube. The most blatant thing they stole is the shitty American laugh track.


  18. I think their version of “Smelly Cat” will be “Smelly Toy Poodle” played on a synth with auto-tuned vocals.

  19. Simpsons Did It.

  20. Boy, it takes some nerve to copy something that we boosted fair and square from British TV first.

  21. Look, you can call me Devil’s Advocate, but I’ve never seen a sitcom where 4 people were scrunched together on a couch at one time, ok? That’s pretty innovative if you ask me.

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