We all have a list of shows we’ve been meaning to check out, but haven’t gotten around to just yet. But what about a list of shows you wish you could check out that don’t really exist?
Here at TVLine, we’ve always been fascinated by the show-within-a-show trope — the fictional series that exist inside an actual show, and typically appear to be of very low quality (with few exceptions). These fake TV shows exist either as series our favorite characters obsess over (think the Futurama soap opera All My Circuits, or the Insecure docudrama Looking for LaToya) or as series our favorite characters write, produce or appear on (such as Jane the Virgin‘s The Passions of Santos, a Rogelio De La Vega-fronted telenovela that’s, well… straight out of a telenovela).
It’s a trope that dates back more than half a century (one of the earliest examples being The Alan Brady Show on Dick Van Dyke’s eponymous CBS sitcom) and continues to exist today in shows such as CBS’ Ghosts (where two of the deceased recently got hooked on a Love Island-esque dating show) and Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building (wherein Steve Martin’s Charles-Haden Savage once starred on a 1990s police procedural called Brazzos).
Below, TVLine has rounded up more than two dozen shows within a show from the past seven decades that we would absolutely binge (or at the very least sample) if they were real series. Scroll down to see if your personal favorites made our list…