A popular Chinese sitcom called iPartment has been on the receiving end of increasing flak from viewers who contend the show is little more than a compilation of jokes shamelessly stolen from American sitcoms.

Now in its third season, the show revolves around a group of 20-something friends living in neighboring apartments, not unlike the American sitcom Friends. Additionally, detractors have pointed out that the occupations of the characters, like a university lecturer, bear distinct similarities to those of their American counterparts.

They also claim many of the jokes are lifted wholesale from such shows as How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory.

Confronted, an iPartment producer denied plagiarizing American shows, but acknowledged that jokes were borrowed from "various sources."

A spokesman for the show commented further, telling the Southern Metropolis Daily that iPartment was paying homage to its American siblings.

"We didn't copy the American sitcom," he told the paper. "Comedies have stereotypes, like the handsome man, the gorgeous woman, the cheap man and so on. They have that in many comedies."

Despite the denials, the show's producers were recently forced to apologize to a screenplay writer for using jokes he posted online without permission.

Those who have accused the show of joke theft hope the negative attention and newfound scrutiny will compel Chinese TV show creators to be more original.

[H/T: Videogum, image via The Daily Mail]