The 10 Best TV Shows Within TV Shows

Can we have these for real now, please?

Can we have these for real now, please?

MILF Island

from 30 Rock

In a world where stuff like



Mob Wives

gets commissioned, it would be easy to tune in partway through and mistake

MILF Island

for a real show. The reality show brainchild of self-proclaimed magnificent bastard Jack Donaghy, it features “25 super-hot moms, 50 eighth-grade boys, and no rules,” which, now we think about, actually sounds like something we might watch. Goddamn it, Jack.

Jerry from Seinfeld

Jerry and George’s doomed pilot was essentially just


, but happening within that show’s world, an idea that took meta-comedy to a new level (or several levels, if you’re Kramer in a redecorating mood). It’s an idea that Larry David went back to for the seventh season of

Curb Your Enthusiasm

, showing the making of a fictitious


reunion episode, but our favorite not-quite-real Jerry, George, and Kramer are still

those guys from the Bizarro universe

. Can we get a show about Kevin, Gene, and Feldman, please?

The Muddy Mudskipper Show

from Ren and Stimpy

He can crawl like a dog without scraping his knees,


he’s got segmented eyes! What’s not to love about Muddy Mudskipper, star of Stimpy’s favorite TV show (sponsored by Gritty Kitty Litter)? Well, the fact that off-camera, Muddy has the temperament of an Arizona prison guard and is prone to the odd bout of sociopathic criminality, such as trying to kidnap the Pope. Good thing

Powdered Toast Man

was there to stop him.

Sick Sad World from Daria

With a ‘news’ agenda that makes the

National Enquirer

read like the

New Yorker


Sick Sad World

profiles shocking exposés like the discovery of Thomas Jefferson’s porno collection, and how zombies are causing record amounts of traffic accidents. In the ’90s, of course, this worked as a satire of cable news channels by showing how ridiculous they had the potential to be. Nowadays, it just looks like the real thing.

The Terrance and Phillip Show from South Park

They’ll always be remembered for the “Uncle Fucka” song from their movie-within-a-movie,

Asses Of Fire

, but the flatulent, cursing Canadians first appeared as a running gag on

South Park

…as a response to all the complaint letters

Trey Parker and Matt Stone

were getting about the amount of flatulence and cursing on the show. And Canadians, presumably.

When The Whistle Blows

from Extras

Andy Milman, Ricky Gervais’ despairing character from cameo-laden British comedy


, writes himself a smash TV hit in the form of cheesy factory canteen farce

When The Whistle Blows

. The sad thing is, up until about 1995, almost all British sitcoms were actually exactly like this.

Mock Trial With J.Rheinhold from Arrested Development

The bad news? Your trial is going to take place on a live TV court, with acting’s highest honor, Judge Reinhold (“neither a real judge, nor has he received acting’s highest honor”) presiding. The good news? You’ll be played off by in-house band William Hung & His Hung Jury. The bad news is probably the more notable, if we’re being honest.

All My Circuits from Futurama

While it’s good to know that, in the future, actors on daytime soaps will be replaced by assorted acting robots, it’s disheartening to know that it will be a further 1,000 years before this actually happens. In the meantime, we can keep watching Bender’s favorite actor, Calculon, in all his Shatner-esque glory.

Handi Quacks from Family Guy

Peter Griffin has made many attempts to improve the quality of American small-screen entertainment over the years – who can forget Side Boob Hour? – but none had the heart warming emotional impact of poignant cartoon about a group of disabled ducks trying to live ordinary lives in a cruel, cruel world. You know the worst part? They never got their soda.

Itchy And Scratchy from The Simpsons

The mother of all shows-within-shows, Itchy and Scratchy have been fighting and biting for the show’s entire run. How we never got a full-on spinoff show during The Simpsons’ heyday is a mystery, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll see one eventually. And if not that, then at least maybe we can finally get that McBain movie.

McBain: The Full Movie

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