The 10 best TV shows-within-shows

Day 422

Credit: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

We aren’t only obsessed with TV shows — we’re also obsessed with the hilarious shows that our favorite TV characters are watching too. Here are the 10 best shows-within-shows, from 30 Rock to The Good Fight, which gave us a Bachelor parody in its most recent epsiode.



10. Chicago Penthouse (The Good Fight)


In the second season’s third episode, the Good Wife spin-off introduced us to Chicago Penthouse, a boozy parody of reality series like Bachelor in Paradise and Are You the One? Sure, the parody delivers a few laughs, but most importantly, it places an emphasis on some of the darker aspects of these dating competition shows where the alcohol is always flowing. —Chancellor Agard

9. The Valley (The O.C.)

THE O.C., Colin Hanks, Rachel Bilson, ‘The LA’, (Season 1), 2003-2007. © WB / Courtesy: Everett Coll

Credit: Everett Collection

The iconic teen drama poked fun at its outrageous California lifestyle with The Valley. It was, like, basically the same show as The O.C., but, like, set in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. And you know, like, super-fan Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) got to party with the cast, because duh. —Ernest Macias


8. Inspector Spacetime (Community)

Inspector Spacetime (Community) – “Biology 101”

Credit: NBC

When Abed learns that his beloved Cougar Town has been pushed to midseason, he finds himself in desperate need of a new TV show. Thankfully, Britta saves the day by introducing him to Inspector Spacetime, a long-running British sci-fi show inspired by Doctor Who. Cue Abed and best friend Troy cosplaying as the Inspector and his sidekick, Constable Reggie. —C.A.

7. El Amor Prohibido (Arrested Development)

El Amor Prohibido – Arrested Development — “Marta Complex”

Credit: Fox

The fictional telenovela translates to The Forbidden Love and stars Marta Estrella (played by two actresses, Leonor Varela and Patricia Velasquez), who earns a Desi Award nomination for her acting. She also serves as a love interest to both G.O.B. and Michael Bluth. —E.M.

6. Terrance and Philip (South Park)

l-r: Terrance, PhillipEpisode 1806″Freemium Isn’t Free” CR: Comedy Central

Credit: Comedy Central

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to turn critiques of the show into meta-commentary in the form of Terrance and Phillip. The South Park kids watched the show frequently, and it later appeared in the South Park movie. —E.M.



5. Due North (Insecure)


Credit: Justina Mintz/HBO; Inset: J. Countess/Contour by Getty Images

Issa Rae’s hilarious HBO comedy brought one of its writers-room jokes to life with Due North. Set in the antebellum South, the fictional show centers on the forbidden love affair between a slave named Ninny (Regina Hall) and her master (Scott Foley). The series is a must-watch for Rae’s character and Molly (Yvonne Orji). —E.M.

4. Defamation (Dear White People)


Credit: Netflix

The overy dramatic Scandal parody Defamation plays a central role in the Netflix show, as the Ivy League students gather every Wednesday night to watch and discuss the latest episode. Dear White People creator Justin Simien previously told EW that the fictional show reflects his interest in how pop culture affects his activist characters. —E.M.

3. MILF Island (30 Rock)


Credit: NBC

30 Rock gave us countless fake TV shows, but its funniest one was hands-down this ridiculous Survival-like reality series, which trapped 20 hot moms on an island with 50 eighth-grade boys and no rules. —C.A.


2. Invitation to Love (Twin Peaks)

Invitation to Love, Twin Peaks Season 1 Ep 4 (screen grab)

Credit: New Line Cinema

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult classic may be best remembered for its trippy mythology and noirish murder-mystery elements, but it also drew heavily from classic soap operas. Lynch and Frost paid tribute to their show’s sudsy roots by introducing Twin Peaks own version of daytime TV: Invitation to Love. More often than not, Invitation to Love‘s over-the-top plots mirrored what was happening in the town of Twin Peaks, from dramatic shootings to dark doppelgangers. (Team Jade!) —Devan Coggan


1. Darkness at Noon (The Good Wife)


Credit: CBS

The Good Wife was always a shady show, especially when it came to prestige dramas (see: the show’s 2014 Emmy campaign). This was no more apparent than with Darkness at Noon, an incoherent and absurdly gritty detective cable drama that the Florrick family constantly watched. The show-within-a-show’s most obvious target was AMC’s Low Winter Sun, but eventually it came to mock every antihero drama that was dark for darkness’ sake. The best Darkness at Noon moment, however, is definitely a faux-philosophical monologue delivered by the show’s morally bankrupt detective as he stands over a woman’s corpse:

“People just think there are black hats and white hats, but there are black hats with white linings. And white hats with black linings. And there are hats that change back and forth between white and black. And there are striped hands. Evil rests in the soul of all men. It haunts them like a ghost haunts a graveyard, and there is nothing you can do but curse God.” —C.A.


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