Submitted by Birdygamer19 t3_zw5zsv in television

I just watched the Velma HBO Max Trailer and already have doubts since its obviously going to be one of those "META awareness to excuse crappy writing" shows, something that Marvel does constantly in order to protect itself from people who make legitimate criticisms towards their bad writing.

Being META is essentially laziness because instead of fixing the problem, they just throw shade at it and expect the audience to excuse it. Family Guy, even though it's extremely META, at least isn't supposed to be taken seriously. Like yeah it's crappy writing but it's one of those "it's crappy but fun" sorts of shows. However when shows want us to take moments seriously, but rely on META for jokes, it kills any seriousness it tries.

Has there ever been any TV shows or TV show moments where META was actually used cleverly or at least done in a way that can't be seen as lazy writing?



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Sporkedup t1_j1t1wgu wrote

I guess Community? Though that is clearly comedic.

Your distinctions between what is good meta and what is bad meta seems very personal and subjective though.


AgentElman t1_j1t9des wrote

Every opinion about good and bad media is totally personal and subjective.


OppositeofDeath t1_j1tdejg wrote

There is a limit though.


tincanphonehome t1_j1wk4o6 wrote

Yeah, OP seems to take it as a given that their opinion is fact.


Dayofsloths t1_j1u5owd wrote

Yeah, there are technical aspects to storytelling that have to be achieved for it to count as a proper story. Like, the sequel of events has to make some sense, there has to be elements of cause and effect or it's just like listening to a 3 year old babble about their day at the zoo.


chimchooree t1_j1t4pcb wrote

"The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award" comes to mind.


Th4ab t1_j1ugea2 wrote

Charlie huffing paint, crawling out of the floor and trying to do his Randy Newman musical impression from earlier is one of the highlights of the whole show. Mac immediately knows and gives up all hope in one pout.


The_Narz t1_j1vgz06 wrote

“Well you say the worlds an oyster, but oysters ain’t for me…”

True poetry from Charlie Kelly, King of the Rats


epstnddntkllhmslf t1_j1uo026 wrote

Also the episode “Waiting for Big Mo”


The_Narz t1_j1vgsr6 wrote

Waiting for Big Mo does handle its meta aspects well, I just don’t find it to be a very funny episode. Where The Gang Tries Desperately… is absolutely hilarious.


epstnddntkllhmslf t1_j1vlol3 wrote

Agreed although I don’t think they were trying to be as funny in waiting for big mo. It came around the time when they still hadn’t announce if the show will continue. So I think they did a really good job at conveying the somberness of it really ending and none of the gang really grasping the meaning. Great misdirection in the end that made me cry tbh thought the show was over…


Josey85 t1_j1u2mub wrote

Glad I didn’t have to scroll far to find this. One of my favorite episodes of the entire series.


ajhart86 t1_j1x0tec wrote

Also “The Gang Misses The Boat”

It’s a commentary on shows jumping the shark by Flanderizing the characters and putting them in increasingly outrageous situations


KBHoleN1 t1_j1urmrs wrote

Meta isn’t an acronym. Why are you typing it in all caps?


guyross1 t1_j1wz822 wrote

Yeah its really confusing. I thought OP was talking about Facebook


vector2point0 t1_j1vo2y0 wrote

There is a META acronym, but not in the sense that op is using it. Most Efficient Tactics Available, e.g. “he’s following the META for this online multiplayer game.”


spatialtulip t1_j1vxc25 wrote

That is a backronym. meta- is a prefix for before or beyond, and meta in reference to games come from shortening metagame. "Metagame or game about the game, is an approach to a game that transcends or operates outside of the prescribed rules of the game, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. " - wikipedia


Dayofsloths t1_j1u62m4 wrote

Arrested Development

When the number of episodes was cut from 24 to 13 in season 3, they made it a plot point that the housing development the family was supposed the build was also cut to 13 houses. Michael complaining about that is the writers complaining about the cut episodes.


SmallFunction3364 t1_j1vb3th wrote

When the series was on threat of cancellation in season 3 there is a meta reference to The Bluth Company seeking a buyout from the Home Buyers Organization. (HBO)


NeuHundred t1_j1u80yu wrote

They had the plans drawn up and everything!

(Well, that wasn't true, but they would have!)


wanna_meet_that_dad t1_j1wuy5o wrote

Arrested development season three is this first thing that came to my mind. Knowing what was happening at the time really makes season 3 a lot more fun.


Forsaken_Tip_596 t1_j1u96i1 wrote

There’s an episode of Supernatural “The French Mistake (S6 EP15)” where Sam and Dean Winchester play their real life selves Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. I always thought they did really good with that episode of Supernatural


Heroic_Sheperd t1_j1xh7ad wrote

Misha Collins as Castiel being a Twitter junkie is actually on par with his real life persona, he engages a ton with his fans. And he tweeted real time during the initial airing of that episode to coincide with his character at the same time.


cheer4bas t1_j1xkz51 wrote

This was one of my favorite episodes of Supernatural. I thought it was just perfect and was a perfect use of meta


Forsaken_Tip_596 t1_j1xmv7b wrote

This was one of my favorite episodes of Supernatural too. Although, I loved all the weird/quirky episodes of Supernatural including: “Monster Movie,” Yellow Fever,” “Mystery Spot,” Ghostfacers,” Dog Dean Afternoon,” Scooby-Natural,” etc.) I wish TV shows still had closer to 18-21 episodes so that they could fun episodes.

I didn’t know that about Misha live tweeting along side the episode when it first aired. That’s cool.


ChronoMonkeyX t1_j1veawy wrote

Third Rock from the Sun has the greatest meta moment in all of television.

John Lithgow and his family, actually alien scouts sent to Earth to prepare for an invasion, await the arrival of their leader, who for some reason is coming in through an airport. A drunk approaches them and they shoo him away, not recognizing him as the leader because they have human bodies as disguises, but when they realize it is him they salute and ask him how his trip was.

The leader, William Shatner, says the trip was awful and they sent him to the wrong airport in NJ, then on the trip to Ohio he saw a man on the wing of the plane, and John Lithgow yells "SAME THING HAPPENED TO MEEEE!!!"

Shatner starred in the original 1960 Twilight Zone episode about a man seeing a gremlin tearing his plane's engine apart, and that episode was remade with John Lithgow in that role for the Twilight Zone movie in the 80s.

I loved this when it aired, I still love it.


ResettisReplicas t1_j1vq662 wrote

There were several like that, I remember Footloose and Harry and The Hendersons references too.


bttrflyr t1_j1xf33e wrote

The moment when Tommy's band is rehearsing in the garage and Dick comes in with ReverandMoore's monologue on dancing. Brilliant moment!


worm600 t1_j1upe7t wrote

You’re not defining “meta” and seem to be using it very broadly, so hard to say (it’s also not an acronym, so don’t capitalize it). But it’s very subjective - someone suggested Rick and Morty but its meta episode are highly controversial.


cjboffoli t1_j1usrwf wrote

For a second there I thought you were talking about the company Meta. I was thinking, yeah, The Social Network certainly used Meta properly.


Cela84 t1_j1vda05 wrote

Would Fleabag count? Main character talks to the audience, another character picks up on this. Maybe not… but I liked it.


Komodo_Schwagon t1_j1wbtsb wrote

I only started watching this show after I learned it was only 2 seasons with each only 6 half hour long episodes, small commitment. Ended up binging in 2 days, damn great show.


thisgrantstomb t1_j1x1wot wrote

The end on season 1 when her sister confronts her she turns around to get away but the camera cuts to an angle that blocks her escape, it forces her back into the conversation. I always took this moment as her trying to run away from her past again but the audience not letting her.


Amity83 t1_j1vdmmo wrote

You need to define meta. And stop using caps.


coriannelee t1_j1v8rke wrote

Not sure if this 100% qualifies, but Psych (where the main character is hyper observant and passes it off to the police and others as being psychic) made several digs at the Mentalist, another show that was on at the same time. In the Mentalist, Simon Baker's character was also a hyper observant detective who had started out by posing as a psychic. Here's a fun supercut of all of the jokes they made.


ComradeFunk t1_j1w0lfm wrote

Seinfeld when they pitch a Seinfeld TV series to NBC.


macgart t1_j1xgr7h wrote

30 Rock is this as a whole show with some peak moments throughout the show. NBC being bought by Kabletown (Comcast) comes to mind.


TheSeventhAnimorph t1_j1t2phr wrote

It's rare that I see any instance where the way it's used doesn't work. In fact, offhand I can't even think of a single specific instance of it not working.

But on another note, the best fourth-wall breaking I've ever seen in anything TV or otherwise was in the Minds arc of the Cerebus comics. It's done in such a way that it's basically a culmination of everything that came before, feels like it couldn't have been done a different way, and actually matters to the storyline, too. (The creator definitely went off the deep end for a while in the Reads arc right before Minds, but it didn't impact how well Minds worked.)


XuX24 t1_j1u08qy wrote

To be fair many of the examples you have are from content that isn't trying to be serious, if Oppenheimer tries to be meta then I would cringe


chickenpotpioneer t1_j1v2wy3 wrote

I thought Wandavision handled its meta aspects better than it had any right to.

Also, X-Files. Every season there are a few eps with homages to older movies/shows or filmmaking techniques, or just slightly different one-off tones that separate them from the typical style. It is always mixed in well and not overdone.


ChrundleThundergun t1_j1vgby0 wrote

I think Nathan Fielders "The Rehearsal" is the best Meta example of television out there. He completely deconstructs what a tv show is and blends reality with scripted wackiness in a way that leaves you wondering what the difference really is. The show goes so off the rails at point you can't help but laugh but if you really think about what he's trying to accomplish it's genius.

That said, I'm not sure we exactly clear on what meta is so not sure you'll agree with this. Take it with a grain of salt.


macgart t1_j1xh90h wrote

I just rewatched the episode where that woman “impersonates” Angela as they talk thru the show… I literally got chills watching her accurately breakdown Nathan’s insecurities without even knowing it.


owene31 t1_j1w9pc2 wrote

Bojack Horseman is full of meta jokes but is also one of the best written series I’ve ever seen


sayjeff t1_j1tn5gb wrote

Rick and Morty


GoatTheArtist t1_j1tr1by wrote

The story-train episode is my favorite R&M episode but also probably my favorite piece of meta television


you_bastid t1_j1trfa4 wrote

Glass Onion had some pretty solid meta moments.


claydog99 t1_j1vfhnw wrote

The Magicians comes to mind, particularly the musical episodes. Enjoyed the hell out of that show.


RandomEffector t1_j1vmdvi wrote

Mockably Enthusiastic Towards Acronyms?


Pirateninjadad t1_j1vui6a wrote

everyone keeps using this word "meta" and at this point I'm too embarrassed to ask what it means.

Seriously, what does "meta" even mean? like the main character knows they're in a show but other characters don't?


ChazzLamborghini t1_j1wemmy wrote

A lot of people are using is incorrectly in this thread. In this context it would generally mean a show about the show or shows in general. A very overt example would be The Larry Sanders show from back in the day. It’s a show about a show being made. More broadly it can be something kind of self referential like Community that heavily plays on expected tropes for sitcoms. OP is pretty heavily indicating a show like She Hulk which breaks the 4th wall but isn’t really meta until the end when the character speaks to the writer of the show.


Pirateninjadad t1_j1z0d61 wrote

thank you for explaining like I'm 5, that makes total sense now.

"Gary called me up and asked if I would write the theme song, I sure hope you like it, this is the part when I start to whistle, this is the theme to the Gary Shandling SHOW"!!


Tisorok t1_j1wbux5 wrote

Ummmm….I don’t think your using that word correctly. I think YOU use the term meta to excuse the writing of the show. Not the other way around. Honestly you sound so opinionated about the use of the term meta that I’m not even sure. Rick and Morty just did a whole episode on the meta and I think you should check it out.


Redacted_Cookie t1_j1wrh2s wrote

Im suprised no ones mentioned Crazy Ex Girlfriend, especially the way they handled the new greg in season 4. Love that show!


abbzug t1_j1trk5e wrote

That episode of Breaking Bad where Walt makes a phone call and unloads on Skyler in order to try to exonerate her because he knew the line was tapped. That whole scene was essentially the show taking a massive shit on all the misogynistic Skyler haters.


SmoloTHEKloWn t1_j1xmygk wrote

I took that more as to protect her and the kids. Not to try to hate on the skyler haters. but you do you.


DarkLordAoki t1_j1vebye wrote

There’s an episode of the 90’s “Hercules” show where the plot is the writers (played mostly by the regular cast but led by Bruce Campbell) are trying to come up with the new episode, and Kevin Sorbo plays Sorbo but he’s trying to hide the fact that he actually has Herculean strength irl. I always loved it.


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OB1KENOB t1_j1t7jj9 wrote

The Serpent Queen


BlackSpinedPlinketto t1_j1ul8x4 wrote

Meta is always annoying to me, even when it’s done well, like in Rick and Morty, I always get taken out of the show and annoyed by it.


MoogProg t1_j1v75dk wrote

Gary Schandling did this very well with two shows, It's Gary Schandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show.


AceCups1 t1_j1w4mp6 wrote

I feel like Matrix Resurrections had a decent idea about the Matrix being meta......but then that movie sh!t the bed. Could have been very cool I think.


finalmantisy83 t1_j1w5wjo wrote

I mean it sounds like you just don't personally like the examples you listed. I enjoyed when Supernatural commented on its fanbase wanting the brothers to fuck.


seamustho t1_j1w94yw wrote

Family guy is crappy writing?


candle340 t1_j1wijv0 wrote

Not a TV show, but a movie. The Matrix: Resurrections does this really well. Basically, WB was going to make it with or without the Wachowskis, so Lana used a meta narrative to lambast them for it


Hannibal254 t1_j1wozlr wrote

The Simpsons when Poochie was a character because the show actually did have a directive from Network Executives to add an additional character because they thought the format was getting stale. During that episode a character did briefly join the Simpsons in their home. It seemed like a quick tongue in cheek joke but that actually fulfilled the requirements that Fox gave the writing team.


esmelusina t1_j1wxywv wrote

Seinfeld is very meta.


Soulia t1_j1x02a0 wrote

Malcolm in the Middle


thisgrantstomb t1_j1x1530 wrote

Real subtle one at the end of the second season of Veronica Mars the show was moving from one network to the CW. In the last episode of the season one character calls another named Clarence Wideman and has the following exchange.

Duncan "CW?"

Clarence Wideman "it's a done deal"


Larkson9999 t1_j1xf0xr wrote

Season 4 of Seinfeld was all about pitching a pilot to NBC for a show about nothing. They make fun of writers for being procrastinating idiots, they mention multiple times that Seinfeld can't act, and also mock Larry David for trying to pick up women at a bar by mentioning he writes sitcoms. It also mocks actors for being method or being bizarre.


bttrflyr t1_j1xg1fw wrote

3rd Rock from the Sun has some of the best meta moments ever put on television.


PoorPauly t1_j1xkzeg wrote

Cowboy Bebop. It hits every trope imaginable and it does it all with style.


Andrew2401 t1_j1vsoyz wrote

Surprised no one's mentioned House of Cards with Kevin Spacey/Frank Underwood talking to the audience to explain his motivation at random