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Just when you thought TV couldn’t be any more amazing, they started putting shows inside your favorite TV shows. And like a cheeseburger sandwiched between two donuts, the indulgence of a high-quality show within a show only makes the experience that much more pleasurable. These are the top five shows within shows.
5 “The Krusty the Clown Show” – The Simpsons
If you took every hacky, deadbeat, lowbrow, racist, joke-stealing, pandering comedian who ever existed and put all of them together, you still wouldn’t even be close to Krusty the Clown. In spite of easily being the most depraved of all the residents of Springfield, Krusty is still somehow in charge of entertaining the children. Never mind the fact that he’s a degenerate gambler and a drug addict who once faked his own death to evade taxes, kids gotta laugh, right? Besides, who wouldn’t want to watch a clown comedy hour that features a monkey sidekick, and high-quality sketches like a spoof of NYPD Blue featuring a giant shoe – aptly titled “NYPD Shoe”?
4 “Jerry” – Seinfeld
In one of the most “meta” running jokes in TV history, the creators of Seinfeld poked fun at themselves by having Jerry and George create a TV pilot about nothing, which is appropriately titled “Jerry” and eventually lands them a deal with NBC. “Jerry” is easily the most self-referential show within a show, with the plots and characters in the fictional pilot all matching up with – and even intertwining with – the plots and characters of Seinfeld. They even teeter on insulting their own audience and network by constantly pointing out the sheer ridiculousness and stupidity of “a show about nothing.”
3 “All My Circuits” – Futurama
Can you imagine what daytime soap operas would be like if their casts were made up entirely of robots? Well, they’d probably feature much better acting (ZING!). Futurama’s “All My Circuits” features Calculon, the premiere acting robot of the thirtieth century, and incorporates all of your favorite heinous soap storylines: affairs, secret babies, evil half-brothers, comas, murder – and, obviously, every single character has amnesia at the same time. But even they can’t forget the heart-wrenching scene where Calculon’s wife Monique tells him that he’s got a fourth personality – and that she’s been having an affair with it!
2 “TGS with Tracy Jordan” – 30 Rock
30 Rock is essentially a spoof of what it takes to produce a weekly sketch show like Saturday Night Live, and “The Girly Show” (TGS) is Tina Fey’s brilliantly horrendous fictional sketch show that Liz Lemon heads up. Needless to say, it’s less than a hit for fictional NBC and is constantly moments away from being canceled. Perhaps that’s because it’s home to exclusively insensitive and legitimately terrible sketches, as it brings to life such stalwart characters as “Hot Baby,” “Diaper Chicken,” “Fart Doctor,” “Gay-braham Lincoln,” “Pam: The Overly Confident, Morbidly Obese Woman,” and of course, “Prince William and Prince: Time Traveling Fart Detectives.”
1 “The Itchy & Scratchy Show” – The Simpsons
Itchy and Scratchy are what you would get if all animated characters’ screwball antics had horribly bloody consequences. It’s basically Tom and Jerry if you saw way more of Tom’s innards in every episode. Bart and Lisa Simpson’s favorite after-school cartoon, “The Itchy and Scratchy Show” features an adorable mouse that disembowels, decapitates, and generally destroys his cat counterpart in a seemingly endless number of ways, the more hyper-violent, the better. It’s a show so wildly popular among Springfield’s youth that it spawned “Itchy and Scratchy Land,” a Disney-from-hell type theme park that’s known as “The most violent place on earth!”