30 of the Most Iconic Shows Within Shows and Movies Within Movies

30 of the Most Iconic Shows Within Shows and Movies Within Movies
Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

There are other universes that exist alongside ours, and the people in them also really like TV. Entertainment options can seem endless as it is; now multiply that by infinite parallel worlds and you’ll understand the daunting task of keeping up with all the maybe shows and could-be movies.

Fortunately, there’s help: Nestflix is a new website that aspires to become the definitive catalogue of all those fake shows within shows and the movies within movies that have given us a peek into neighbouring realities — sort of like a wiki for inter-dimensional cable. Inspired by that massive effort, here are some of the best and most memorable shows and movies that we’ll probably never get to watch for real.

Inspector Spacetime (from Community)

Abed from Community’s favourite show is not entirely unlike Doctor Who, though viewers from this side of the pond might fine the American spin-off, Epochs of Eternity, more palatable.

Looking for LaToya (from Insecure)

Those white cops are gonna find that lost Toyota.

Defamation (from Dear White People)

Scandal is great. But Defamation has 40% more Oval Office Eagle action.

The Itchy & Scratchy Show (from The Simpsons)

The longest running show-within-a-show in TV history. Now let’s see that long-gestating Poochie spin-off.

All My Circuits (from Futurama)

Your notions of diversity are sadly human-centric. Binary love is love, and this soap opera from the year 3000 is enough to make HAL 9000 cry.

Gazorpazorpfield (from Rick & Morty)

Fuck you, John.

Invitation to Love (from Twin Peaks)

Twin Peaks was conceived as a straight-ish parody of, and homage to, daytime soaps. Invitation to Love is, perhaps, the show’s truest expression of that goal.

Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season (from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back)

As a nation, will we ever tire of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck? Will we ever get the chance to?

Stab (from the Scream series)

Scream 2‘s appropriately meta opening sequence takes place during an opening night screening of Stab, the film adaptation of the plot of Scream 1. By the fourth Scream movie, we’re on our seventh Stab movie (got that?), continuing the roundabout of movies-within-movies until you’re not entirely sure which is the actual movie you’re meant to be watching.

Cleaver (from Sopranos)

Christopher Moltisanti died as he lived: dumb.

Don’t (from Grindhouse)

I suppose that this is more of a fake trailer within a movie, but Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s clever ‘70s-era horror movie homage still gets a spot. Hey, I’d watch it.

Angels with Filthy Souls (from Home Alone)

So cleverly constructed was this gangster-movie parody that many people still think that Kevin was watching an actual old movie on TV when he pulled off his pizza delivery scam, rather than just a subtle parody. Home Alone 2 has a clip from the (also made-up) sequel: Angels with Even Filthier Souls.

Hamlet (from Last Action Hero)

Eat your heart out, Kenneth Branagh. (I’m genuinely surprised that this isn’t a real movie.)

Logjammin’ (from The Big Lebowski)

When there’s no more cable, will there be no more porn? (Just kidding, there will always be porn.)

Brock Landers: Angels Live in My Town (from Boogie Nights)

Dirk Diggler’s talents never lay in acting, but bless ‘im for trying.

Mant! (from Matinee)

The best movies-within-movies just about convince you that they’re real — and there are definitely weirder ‘50s science fiction movies than what Joe Dante dreamed up for Mant!

The Dueling Cavalier (from Singin’ in the Rain)

I’m not sure that you have to really get the silent film references to laugh out loud when you hear Jean Hagen’s accent.

Mutants of 2051 A.D. (from Strange Brew)

I’ve seen Canadian films with less impressive production values. 10/10 would watch.

Somethin’s Cookin’ (from Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

This is just a really incredible piece of animation, full-stop — an homage to the classic era of theatrical animated shorts that could go rabbit’s foot to rabbit’s foot with any of them.

Home for Purim (from For Your Consideration)

How this didn’t win every single Oscar I’ll never understand.

Simple Jack (from Tropic Thunder)

Is this movie-within-a-movie making fun of Simple Jack? Or is it a clever parody of Hollywood’s treatment of disability? Is Tropic Thunder, a fine but otherwise unexceptional comedy, really worth having a debate over?

Terrance & Phillip: Asses of Fire (from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut)

This came out in 1999, when America still had the capacity to be shocked, but only mildly. And so, we were all mildly shocked by the very catchy tune about frequent casual sex with one’s uncle.

Titanic II (from Family Guy)

I’m not sure why James Cameron insists on doing 15 new Avatar movies when all we really want is this.

Jefferson (from 30 Rock)

This came out before Hamilton premiered. I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure Lin-Manuel Miranda owes Tracy Jordan money.

Duck-tective (from Gravity Falls)

He’s a duck who’s also a detective. That may or may not be your cup of tea, but it’s very popular with the cast of Gravity Falls.

Homicide: Life on Sesame Street (from Family Guy)

This one works because it’s always been clear that Bert was one bad day away from completely losing it.

Secretariat (from Bojack Horseman)

BoJack Horseman would totally star in the film version of Secretariat’s life, and, let me tell you, it is not a happy story.

The 14 Fists of McCluskey (from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Sauerkraut is an underrated delight, but otherwise I’d watch the hell out this.

Galaxy Quest (from the movie about the show Galaxy Quest, which is also called Galaxy Quest)

Galaxy Quest, the movie, is about the fictional Galaxy Quest, a TV show. With real (in the movie) aliens who mistake the actors from the show (who are actually actors in the movie), for the real characters they played in that beloved, but fictitious (both fictitious in that it tells fictional stories, but also in that it, uh, doesn’t exist) TV show.

So, yeah, this is meta enough to qualify.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (from… you know)

Back in the day, we didn’t have to wait years for a good remake. Sometimes they’d reboot before you even left the theatre. Case in point: the end of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which delivers a sexier and more action-packed version of the movie we literally just watched. Fortunately, they were kind enough to give Paul Reubens a cameo.

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