Inside Television's Most Inexplicable And Confusingly Shared Universe

The world of Californication and Dawson's Creek is one of the weirder shared universes on TV, given that the audience crossover comprises approximately three very weird women. Still, it's indisputable: The series share at least two characters. One is a professor named David Wilder, who Dawson's Joey has a brief fling with in college ...

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... and shows up in a similarly horny manner in season three of Californication. Same actor, same name, same profession. Another is Todd Carr, an insufferable director Dawson worked for ...

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... and also directed the movie adapted from Californication's Hank Moody's book. Weirdly, he's also become a Black man.

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It could be dismissed as a wink and a nudge from Californication creator and Dawson's Creek writer Tom Kapinos, but it gets way weirder. In the fourth episode of season seven, two characters on Californication discuss Dawson's Creek, meaning that it's also a TV show in this universe. How can characters from a TV show also be real people? Only if they're both shows within shows.

Dawson's Creek ended with Dawson creating a TV show about his adolescent experiences, and the real show was already based on its creator's adolescent experiences, so this is just a hidden layer in the infinite loop of shows within shows that Dawson's Creek is made of. It's not a stretch to imagine that Hank Moody, who's shown his albeit reluctant willingness to sell out, ended up making a TV show about his sleazy Hollywood life, either.

That's why actors from Dawson's Creek also show up on Californication as different characters, like Meredith Monroe as a TV cook Hank wants to "hate-fuck," and themselves, like Katie Holmes as the star of Todd Carr's movie. Yes, a movie within a show within a show. Writers need more rules.

Manna needs more rules on Twitter.

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