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Pop Culture in Pop Culture: How Hollywood Humor Can Help and Hurt TV

This week's Very Good TV Podcast tackles the topic of TV shows referencing pop culture and how, sometimes, it's not the best idea.

Tina Fey in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

We’ve all smiled that cheeky little smirk when our favorite TV show references other pop culture. From constant “Star Wars” references in a show like “The Big Bang Theory” to not so casually dropping in a Neil DeGrasse Tyson cameo (in an attempt to pass off the science as legit), these tools are often intended to make the series feel authentic, hip and relevant — to the audience and the character. But is that what it really does? Do we really feel as though these characters exist alongside us or does it cause a crazy and infinite alternative universe effect?

To answer that strange and weirdly existential question, Very Good TV Podcast rifles through examples of TV shows that reference pop culture and to what result. Discussing whether the “organic story choice” has had organic effects or has negatively affected the show instead, IndieWire’s TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers talk about shows such as “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “30 Rock,” “Fringe” and more. If we live in one universe and then a show resides within its own, but pretends to be in ours and creates a new one, and then separates itself from other shows, but there are crossovers that still reference us and… let’s just let Liz and Ben tackle that.

Don’t forget to subscribe via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news. Check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for more, more, more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to IndieWire’s other podcastsScreen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as IndieWire Influencers, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Dana Harris and featuring various guests relevant to anyone tracking independent film or the entertainment industry in general.

READ MORE: What To Say When Someone Asks, ‘What’s Your Favorite TV Show?’

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