Tv-trends in emigration formats

People looking for a better place to live abroad have been the subjects of tv-formats since 2001 and even in 2011 three new formats started: Auswanderer auf Probe (ZDF-Neo), Little England (ITV1) and Allt för Sverige (SVT1). Three different types of formats can be distinguished:
1. moving abroad 2. my successful life abroad 3. returning home.

Programs of category 1 ‘moving abroad’ are shown on TV in the UK since 2001, like Escape to the sun (BBC, 2001) A place in France (C4, 2002) Get a new life (BBC, 2003) Living in the sun (BBC, 2005) New life down under (C4, 2005). On the Dutch tv-market pubcaster TROS transmits Ik vertrek since 2005. And on the German TV emigrants leave Germany since 2007 in shows like Goodbye Deutschland (VOX, 2007) Die Auswanderer (K1, 2007) Umzug in ein neues leben (RTL-T, 2008).

These emigration formats often have a negative atmosphere and dramatize the failure of the emigrants in their new environment. They aren’t well prepared, they haven’t anticipated on possible problems abroad and their language skills leave a lot to be desired. As a result there’s a lot of miscommunication with contractors, the chats with the locals during the house warming are terrible and the application for various permits often goes wrong. For the viewer it doesn’t take long till you get tired of it.

There also are programs with a more positive approach. In these programs emigrants use a test period to find out if there are possibilities for employment in the new country, like in the UK Wanted down under (BBC, 2007) Great Italian escape (C4, 2008) and in 2011 in Germany Auswanderer auf Probe at ZDF-Neo.  

UK and Scandinavia air formats of category 2 ‘my successful life abroad’. In Scandinavia Svenska Hollywood Fruar (TV3) in which emigrated Swedish women married to an American are paid a visit in their new home country to show off their successful life has been airing since 2010. In the UK Little England (ITV1) started in 2011 which stars British families who succeed in business in France. The positive angle of these shows is a relief for the viewer.

A format from category 3: ‘returning home’ is Die Rückwanderer by VOX which has been airing since 2008 in Germany. And since November 2011 the Swedes have put the emigration theme is into competitive real life soap. Allt för Sverige (SVT1) is about Swedish Americans who return to their Swedish roots. They have to compete in Swedish traditions and the participants learn more about their Swedish ancestors. In each episode one participant drops out, but the winner will meet his/her relatives in Sweden. In this Scandinavian format – which originally is Norwegian and aired there as Alt for Norge (international title Culture Shock) – emigration is combined with the ‘finding your roots’-element.  

Agnes Dijker
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