Thursday’s (Nov. 11) episode of “The Office” revolves around its characters watching TV — “Glee,” to be exact. Erin (Ellie Kemper) organizes a viewing party on behalf of her boyfriend Gabe (Zach Woods) in an attempt to get people to like him.
The episode (called “Viewing Party”) will include some footage from “Glee,” and the script got a thumbs-up from the FOX show’s producers. And with it, the show will become the latest in a line of TV series that have told stories involving other TV series.
“The Office” has dabbled in this kind of thing before: Dwight (Rainn Wilson) is a devotee of “Battlestar Galactica” and “24,” Andy (Ed Helms) watched “Lost” and Kelly (Mindy Kaling) spends an episode undermining Dwight and Jim (John Krasinski) because they didn’t go to her “America’s Got Talent” finale party.
“Viewing Party,” though, will make “Glee” a bigger part of the show’s story than any of those other references ever have been. It also got us thinking about TV shows that reference other series that were on at the same time. Some of our favorites are below:
“Seinfeld”: The all-time best use of another show as a plot point came in the Season 6 episode “The Beard.” Jerry is ashamed to tell his new girlfriend that he watches “Melrose Place,” and per usual, the lie spirals out of control, to the point that Jerry takes a polygraph test to prove he doesn’t know what’s happening with Billy, Amanda, Allison et al — which he fails spectacularly. We don’t see footage from “Melrose Place,” but we hear its theme music as the gang sits down to watch an episode, during which Jerry says, “Oh, that Michael, I hate him! He’s just so smug.”
“Friends”: Joey (Matt LeBlanc), of course, did a stint on “Days of Our Lives” (albeit a not-quite-real version of the soap). But when he wasn’t acting, he and roommate Chandler (Matthew Perry) liked to watch “Baywatch.” Lots and lots of “Baywatch.”
“Scrubs”: Self-proclaimed TV nerd Bill Lawrence created a show whose central characters J.D. (Zach Braff) and Turk (Donald Faison) were also TV nerds. Classic sitcoms and medical dramas “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy” were referenced a bunch of times over the course of the series, but our favorite moment came in the Season 5 episode “My Chopped Liver,” when Turk and J.D. had the following exchange about “Gilmore Girls”: Turk: “Mothers and daughters — they speak so fast, but they speak so true. [Calls J.D.] Did you see it?” J.D.: “I am so mad at Lorelai, I can’t even talk right now.”
“Cougar Town”: Speaking of Lawrence, his current show referenced his old show in Season 1. It went uncommented on, but in an early episode you can see an episode of “Scrubs” playing on Jules’ (Courteney Cox) TV.
“The Vampire Diaries”: Yes, all kinds of weird things happen to the high
school kids in Mystic Falls, but they are still high school kids with
high-school-kid tastes. Bonnie (Katerina Graham) is a “90210” fan, and
Caroline (Candice Accola) watches “Jersey Shore.”
“30 Rock”: The NBC comedy referenced two of our favorite cable guilty pleasures in back-to-back episodes this season. The premiere had Liz (Tina Fey) idealizing the relationship between “Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten and her husband Jeffrey, and a week later Tracy (Tracy Morgan) took a ride in Ben Bailey‘s “Cash Cab.”
“Freaks and Geeks”: It’s one of our favorite scenes in recent television history: Bill (Martin Starr) having an after-school snack and watching Garry Shandling on “Dinah!” Later in that episode, “Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers,” Bill — who also dressed as the Bionic Woman for Halloween — and Coach Fredricks (Tom Wilson) watch an episode of “Dallas” together.
Let us know in the comments if you have other favorite examples of shows referencing other shows.
Photo credits: NBC, FOX