8 Fictional Shows We Wish Were Real, Power Ranked
It's always cruel (and a little bit discriminatory) when shows tease us with other shows we can never watch just because we happened to be born in the wrong universe. "Show-within-a-show" gags are a tricky thing: they have to be interesting enough to justify a cutaway scene but not so interesting that viewers will wish they were watching them instead. Here are some examples that utterly failed at that last part, power ranked based on how many fictional awards we think they'd win:
God Cop (30 Rock)
Sorry, MILF Island and Black Frasier, but out of the dozens of fake shows mentioned on 30 Rock, the one with the most dramatic potential is clearly God Cop, about a NYC detective whose new partner is the almighty creator of all things. Just the idea of God living like one of us, just a slob like one of us, would be interesting in itself. Does God have a roommate? Does He occasionally retcon reality to win petty arguments about who was the last one to take out the trash and stuff? Does He pay rent and other services or is He constantly pulling the "you know, I made all this" card?
If the show did well enough, it could even get a spin-off about Satan as a detect-- wait, that already exists. Never mind.
Power rank: 4 Annual Montgomery Burns Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence from The Simpsons.
Quick Mysteries (Rick and Morty)
Mysteries that are mindful of your busy schedule and severe ADHD. Who has the time or attention span to listen to 12-hour true crime podcasts anymore? Just give us the grisly details and ... okay, fine, we actually wanted to include the violent antiques show that just showed old people fighting over old stuff, but it doesn't appear to be on YouTube.
Power rank: 5 Dundie Awards from The Office, for some reason.
Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. (F.R.I.E.N.D.S.)
Another buddy cop show, this time about a detective named Mac who is partnered up with a robot conveniently called Computerized Humanoid Electronically Enhanced Secret Enforcer. That raises so many questions: Was C.H.E.E.S.E. assigned to Mac because of their names? Did they name him after the fact? Was it a complete coincidence? Did God make it happen on a whim because he works for the same department? This is both a more intriguing and a more believable premise than "six non-millionaire 20-somethings living in luxurious New York City apartments." Plus, we actually know what the acronym in the title stands for, which is nice.
We have no doubt that if NBC had greenlit an actual Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. series as a spin-off in 2004 instead of the ill-fated Joey show, it would still be on the air.
Power rank: 7 Slashie Awards for Best Actor Slash Model from Zoolander (modeling for STD awareness posters is still modeling).
JD Salinger Presents Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let's Find Out! (Bojack Horseman)
Don't pretend you've never wondered what stars and celebrities know, if indeed they know things, and felt an irresistible urge to find out. This show's revolutionary format consists of asking celebrities trivia questions to find out the exact things that they know, providing unprecedented insights into their psyche -- and through them, the human condition.
Imagine the things we could learn: Does Jet Li know what the official state bird of Massachusetts is? Can Demi Lovato name the title of Alexandre Dumas' first sequel to The Three Musketeers? Sadly, we're unlikely to find out because the JD Salinger estate will never allow this show to become a reality (the "JD Salinger Presents" part of the title is non-negotiable).
Power rank: 19 Emmys (they count as fictional awards because Bojack never won one).
Pigs in Space (The Muppet Show)
Muppets and sci-fi are a perfect fit for each other, when you think about it. We'll never see a mainstream TV show that truly recaptures the B-movie spirit of the original Star Trek or Lost in Space with human actors because professional productions are no longer allowed to look all crappy like those beloved classics did -- even sci-fi comedies are forced to spend a good chunk of their budget on slick sets and effects. Puppet shows are the only genre where crappiness is not only allowed but expected; Kermit would look rather disturbing with realistic frog skin instead of cheap-looking fabric.
A show based on the Muppets' recurring Pigs in Space sketch would bypass the silly "realism" problem and allow the writers to go wild with the B-movie sets, suits, and effects. There's a Great American Sci-Fi Puppet Show waiting to be made, and Pigs in Space could be it. Also: Belgium.
Power rank: 47 Rory Awards for the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word "Belgium" In a Serious Screenplay from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
El Show de Bumblebee Man (The Simpsons)
We're cheating with this one because this show does exist: The Simpsons' Bumblebee Man is based on El Chapulin Colorado by the genius Mexican comedian Roberto Gomez Bolaños "Chespirito," which seemed to be on some Spanish-language cable channel or another all the time in the '90s. Sadly, Bolaños passed away in 2014 and there seems to be less awareness of El Chapulin Colorado outside of Mexico today. Perfect opportunity for Fox/Disney to capitalize on that by giving the ripoff his own show!
Power rank: 135 Premios Desi from Arrested Development, even though this isn't a soap opera.
Sabotage (Beastie Boys - Sabotage)
It seriously is a crime that the Beastie Boys never had a weekly comedy/variety show, but the next best thing would have been a full-length version of the '70s-style crime drama the song "Sabotage" was supposed to be the intro for. Just 30 minutes of continuous chases, bad wigs, and poorly spliced stock footage explosions every week. It would have been a sure shot ratings hit (get it).
Power rank: 1,438,608 Silver Sow Awards for Excellence in Farm News from WKRP in Cincinnati (yeah, we're running out of fake awards).
Animals Close-Up With a Wide Angle Lens (South Park)
Once upon a time, we would have picked Terrance and Phillip as the best fictional show within South Park, but sadly it has not aged well. The jokes don't land as often and the social commentary seems increasingly out of touch with reality (probably a consequence of Terrance and Phillip themselves having now lived longer as rich people than they did as regular folks). The farts have gotten stale, you might say.
But video footage of animals close up with a wide angle lens? That is an ageless premise that hits the spot as effectively as it did 18 years ago, as evidenced by the dozens of ripoffs racking up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube right now. Note: Please don't confuse Animals Close-Up With a Wide Angle Lens with the inferior spin-off, Animals Close-Up With a Wide Angle Lens Wearing Hats, which is trash.
Power rank: 1 Beijing Film Festival Crying Monkey Award from Tropic Thunder, which is worth more than all the other awards so far put together.
Top image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution, Netflix