Ipartment, a popular Chinese sitcom in its third season, has been accused of ripping off Friends and other American comedies.
The show centers on a group of twentysomethings who live in neighboring apartments in Shanghai (that sounds nothing like Friends). The show was recently picked up by various cable channels across China and has reached a larger audience.
Other shows that viewers claim Ipartment rips off include How I Met Your Mother and the Big Bang Theory. Viewers posted screenshots showing the parts they claim were stolen, as well as links to video clips on Youku.com
Consider this random episode:
It certainly feels similar to Friends in tone (not that I understand Chinese).
"Many lines and scenes have been completely ripped off from American shows," said one viewer. "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."
Producers admitted that the show contained jokes from various sources, and offered an apology to one unnamed writer for using his jokes without permission, offering to pay him for material they used.
The showrunners deny stealing jokes, instead calling their show an homage to various American sitcoms.