Hulu to stream British comedy un-bleeped
New York • The cult favorite "The Thick of It" is coming to Hulu in its full, expletive-ridden glory.
The video website will have sole U.S. broadcasting rights for the fourth season of the British political comedy, offering American viewers their first uncensored look at Armando Iannucci's show, a critical hit in the U.K.
Iannucci's brand of caustic, foul-mouthed satire has increasingly found U.S. interest thanks to his HBO series "Veep," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as an ineffectual vice president, and the 2009 film "In the Loop," which parodied the "special relationship" between U.S. and U.K. governments.
Hulu and its pay subscription offshoot Hulu Plus will begin carrying the three previous seasons of "The Thick of It" beginning July 29. The fourth season will premiere this fall when it debuts in the U.K. on BBC2.
Along with debuting the new series of "The Thick of It" on July 29, Hulu and its pay subscription offshoot Hulu Plus will also feature all three previous seasons of the sitcom.
While earlier seasons of "The Thick of It" aired on BBC America, they were bleeped, which for an Iannucci comedy, is akin to cutting the violence out of a Quentin Tarantino film. (The fourth season will also later run on BBC America.)
"That's a difference I'm very enthusiastic about," says Iannucci. "It's not that I want to bring swearing to the masses, but just the rhythm of certain speech I think requires you to hear the full vocal effect."
For Hulu, "The Thick of It" represents the latest bid by the TV network-owned site to expose American audiences to British television. Hulu, having seen cult U.K. shows like "Spaced" excel on their platform, has previously made exclusive deals for the BBC's "Rev.," Channel 4's "Misfits" and the BBC's "Whites."
While forays into original content have drawn headlines for Hulu and Netflix, they have also increasingly looked abroad. Hulu also recently acquired the Canadian mini-series "The Yard," and Neflix's most anticipated original series, "House of Cards," is a remake of a British classic.
With "The Thick of It," which will simultaneously air on BBC2 in the U.K., Hulu is going one step further than it has previously in co-producing the series.
"We want to help make the connection between a viewer and something they might not have found," says Andy Forssell, senior vice president of content at Hulu. "Far fewer people in the U.S. are familiar with the show than should be because it's just so good and so well done."
Forssell said the move is part of Hulu's "treasure hunting" that supplements its library of American TV shows. Hulu also recently began distributing "Larry King Now," a new online show from the former CNN anchor that's being produced by Ora TV.
"There's a lot to love about television in the U.K.," says Forssell. "They have some of the best TV in the world and some of the worst TV in the world, and I think that's great because it all comes from the fact that they take chances."
Iannucci said the fourth season of "The Thick of It," which is seven episodes of 30-minutes, portrays the formation of Britain's coalition government and finds Malcolm Tucker's fiery character on the outside of power, desperately trying to regain it.
Though some of the allusions to current British politics will certainly go over the heads of many U.S. viewers, Iannucci believes it plays well internationally.
"We don't name actual politicians. We keep it as general as general," he says. "It's about office politics as much as national politics."
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