Sofa, blanket andyour favourite TV series is a fantastic plan. You will no doubt have had more than one weekend or afternoon where you didn’t really know what to do so decided on that as a plan. I bet that you have even watched series like The Leftovers, Orange is the new Black and The Good Wife. We have too! Have you ever wondered why these titles haven’t been translated into Spanish? Perhaps talking about “Las Sobras”, which is a possible Spanish translation, could never be the same as catching up with the final episode of “The Leftovers”.
The marketing departments of production companies often used to come up with different titles for each series. The title would often be changed to adapt it to the country where it was going to be distributed. That has given us some titles that are memorable but not all in a good way! One such example was changing the name of “The Ice Princess”, a Disney film about a girl who wants to be a figure skater, to “Soñando, soñando… triunfé patinando” for its Spanish release, which loosely translated means “Dreaming, dreaming … I succeeded skating”. Another famous example is the “Fast & Furious” saga, which in Spain was initially known as “A todo gas”, which loosely translates into “At full throttle”.
However, this habit of changing the title of audiovisual productions has been going out of fashion in recent years. We have seen this, for example, with “The Leftovers”. You could translate this as “Los Olvidados” for the Spanish market but that just doesn’t seem as punchy! Other potential translations into Spanish are “Los sobrantes” or “Los dejados atrás” but they still just don’t have that dramatic force. That is why in Spain we have decided to keep the original titles even though nobody understands them.
Orange is in fashion
The situation is the same with “Orange is the new Black”. The literal translation into Spanish would be “El naranja es el nuevo negro”. That translation makes it seem like a series about fashion and style, which doesn’t really reflect the actual plot. In the fashion industry, something being the “new black” means that it is the best thing since sliced bread, the next big thing to hit all the shops worldwide. However, in America, when prisoners first leave the prison (for example, to do community work) they have to wear an orange uniform, this garish colour being chosen so that the guards can easilyspot them. That is why in the Netflix series, orange is the fashionable colour.
The “modern” family
And what about “Modern Family”? In Spain we know that families who love television have always been very modern, but calling a series “Familia Moderna” seems to make no sense at all. One way to avoid scaring the audience away is to leave the title in English. This is how the original title, which was more commercial, became a success. A guaranteed success.
The situation is the same for other famous series such as “The Good Wife” and “Newsroom”. Sometimes the choice of title is lessabout the audience being able to understand it and more about the series being a commercial hit.