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Stylistic Suck / Live-Action TV

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  • 30 Rock is all over this trope. The in-show sketches of TGS (such as Robot vs Bear and Fart Doctor) are portrayed as mindless dreck that only appeals to the lowest common denominator. Most of the rest of NBC's lineup (including reality shows such as Milf Island, and an action-drama called "Bitch Hunter" in which Will Ferrell's character simply murders women in cold blood) are shown as no better. Then there's the distinguished careers of TGS's stars, Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney. Tracy is best known for dim-witted comedies such as Who Dat Ninja and Samurai I-Am-Awry. And Jenna's greatest achievements are a Broadway adaptation of Mystic Pizza and a biopic of Janis Joplin that, due to legal issues, ended up being about "Jackie Jormp-Jomp" performing at "Wordstock".
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  • The 4400: In "The Marked", Curtis Peck's completed film Dead. Completely Dead. and the trailer for his next film The Marked both contain lots of Bad "Bad Acting", horrendous dialogue, poor cinematography, and readily visible boom mics.
  • Hugh Jackman's opening number when he hosted the 81st Academy Awards. He re-enacts the year's Oscar-nominated films with deliberately cheap-looking props, which he claimed to have put together in his garage the night before, due to the poor economy not allowing the Academy to make actual props.
  • An Adventure in Space and Time:
    • The remade clips of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time, especially the remade "An Unearthly Child" sequences, are far, far worse than the actual 1960s Doctor Who series is - Bad "Bad Acting", awful camerawork, framing and editing, Leave the Camera Running leading to awkward pauses in the action, visible stagehands, and continuity errors. Unlike most examples, this is not played for laughs and is mostly just there to heighten the difference between the actors in character and the actors out of character, as well as to make it clear just how hopeless the show's production was. It's possible it was also exaggerated because, in the film, only short clips of the action are ever shown and so the audience needed to get a sense of the shoddiness of the production from much less footage. The clip of the Doctor's speech to the departing Susan from "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" is notably better acted, as it is in-universe Enforced Method Acting due to Hartnell's grief over Verity Lambert's departure. (In reality, Verity Lambert left during the production of "Mission to the Unknown", a pretty grisly Bottle Episode which didn't even have the Doctor in it, so it's almost impossible that Hartnell had been thinking about her during the scene. It doesn't work as well for the story, though.)
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    • The costumes of some of the aliens look significantly worse than the ones in the show, possibly because of Reality Is Unrealistic - Doctor Who has a rather exaggerated reputation in the public consciousness for monsters made out of duct tape and bubble wrap (okay, that last one did happen once, but...) that the film had to abide by. Compare the Menoptera in the film to the Menoptera in the show - obviously, neither is particularly good, but the original Menoptera has a more detailed headdress and makeup, more realistic antennae and eyes that aren't just painted onto the fur, more graceful limbs, wings with more structure, and a mantle made of properly quilted cloth instead of a strip of upholstery foam with the design painted on. The construction is overall better and less lopsided as well.
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  • Agent Carter has an in-universe "Captain America Adventures" radio show full of bombastic melodrama, featuring a "Betty Carver" character who does nothing but get rescued by Captain America and gush over his manliness. Peggy Carter is not amused.
  • The entire series of All Aussie Adventures gives the impression that the people responsible for filming and editing the documentary are (in-universe) as incompetent as Russell Coight. Sometimes this is done with obvious stock footage failures, but other times it's with easily-missable "mistakes" such as a camera starting to pan away too soon or a jump cut.
  • The majority of The Aquabats! Super Show!. After all, it is meant to be a throwback to cheesy 60's live-action superhero shows.
  • Better Call Saul, prequel and spinoff of Breaking Bad:
    • In "Amarillo," Jimmy McGill (the future Saul Goodman) sees Davis & Main's one attempt at a TV commercial: a plain white text "If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation" advertisement accompanied by flat narration. Jimmy is told that the board worked very hard to get the blue-black swirly background just right. Not impressed, Jimmy decides to film his own commercial to target clients represented in the Davis & Main / HHM lawsuit against Sandpiper Crossing. Though the resulting product is just as tacky as his future Saul ads in Breaking Bad will be, including an obvious fake tear from the old lady representing a Sandpiper client (Vaseline, according to Jimmy), melodramatic statements, and him forgetting to inform his camera crew to bring a dolly, forcing them to improvise with said lady's stairlift, it's still infinitely better than the prior ads. He then puts it on the air, and while clients are drawn in by the one airing, Jimmy gets in trouble with his bosses for running the ad without first getting their permission. A later episode opens with Jimmy doing late-night channel surfing, during which he discovers that they yanked his Davis & Main ad and replaced it with one in the same format as the mesothelioma ad that Jimmy had not been impressed by.
    • The show's title cards use strange color filters, a shaky handheld camera, and cheesy computer effects to capture Jimmy's unsavory and low-rent character. Season 2 keeps the cards but has them also begin flickering between color and black-and-white, symbolizing the shift in Jimmy's path.
    • This season 3 promo highlighting Gus Fring's reintroduction to the show features Gus hosting a "corporate training" video, using some very blatant greenscreen effect.
  • The Big Bang Theory
    • Dr. Sheldon Cooper (and later, Dr. Amy Farrah-Fowler) somehow manage to be even more awkward and uncomfortable than normal while producing their web-series "Dr. Sheldon Cooper's Fun with Flags"
    • Penny's acting in Serial Apist (and its sequel) answers rather definitively the question of why her acting career never got off the ground.
  • The Blackadder the Third episode "Sense and Senility" featured the play The Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and His Enormous-Bosomed Wife of which its writers, Enoch Mossop and David Keanrick, were inordinately proud. The extracts we hear make it sound like the most ponderous examples of restoration drama possible. To give just one example, one of the lines is "To torture him I lust! Let's singe his hair, and up his nostrils hot bananas thrust!"
  • In Blackadder Goes Forth, Baldrick reveals that he has tried his hand at war poetry. He recites two poems which reveal that he's hardly Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, or Rupert Brooke...
    • "War":
      Hear the words I sing,
      War's a horrid thing.
      But still I sing, sing, sing
      Ding a ling a ling.
    • "The German Guns":
      Baldrick: Boom, boom, boom, boom, / Boom, boom, boom, / Boom, boom, boom, boom...
      Blackadder: Boom, boom, boom?
      Baldrick: How did you guess?
  • Boris: The show revolves around the behind the scenes of The Eyes of The Heart, an awful Soap Within a Show, full of all the worst soap-opera clichés and Bad "Bad Acting".
  • The Boys has the film Dawn of the Seven, a dizzying mixture of everything shallow and loathsome about modern superhero blockbusters: Color Wash so bad that every scene looks like it's been dipped in urine, half-assed "progressive" themes written to co-opt rather than support, and incredibly stiff performances by actors who really don't want to be there.
  • Breaking Bad: Saul Goodman's commercials. Very tacky acting and obvious greenscreen effects are just the start. It's implied a lot of it is intentional; Saul prefers to be seen as a dimwitted Ambulance Chaser.
    Saul: Gentlemen! I sense you're discussing my client. Anything you care to share with me?
    Hank: Sure, your commercials? They suck ass. I've seen better acting in an epileptic whorehouse.
    •, a website set up by Walter Junior, is pretty much every homemade website cliche, with garish colors and fonts and some rather clumsy writing.
  • From Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Spike's poetry. Dear God. The first time we hear the following poem was before he was a vampire and one listener said that he'd rather have a railroad spike driven into his head than hear it. The second time is a hundred plus years later in a rough biker-type bar. This time the patrons loved it because everyone in the bar (including Spike) was completely drunk.
      My heart expands,
      'tis grown a bulge in it
      inspired by your beauty... effulgent.
    • Giles' drawing. Just look at Hush, or his conversations with the Chinese Slayerette. Especially bad in comparison to Angel's incredibly lifelike sketches...vampire should have been an artist.
  • Charlie the Wonderdog. "YAY! NICE-WORK-CHAR-LIE!"
    • "It's a STICK!!" [shrug]
  • Cheers:
    • Although we never actually see her dance, Diane Chambers is said to be very, very bad at ballet.
    • Cliff's attempt at stand-up comedy is unbelievably laugh-free. Basically, all he does is mention some situation and follow up with "What's up with that?" The only person who finds him funny is Lilith, who also thinks Zeppo is the funny Marx Brother.
  • While deconstructing Self-Made Man, in The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert fires his staff and ends up filming his show with an iPhone, and using a dry eraser board to do The Word, falling straight into this trope, up until he chokes on the cap of his dry-erase marker.
  • Community:
    • The recurring Inspector Spacetime TV programme and Kickpuncher movies. We only glimpse a few scenes, and although they do look really, really bad, Abed and Troy love them both.
    • Ironically, Abed's films have a tendency to be...not good.
    • Dean is in the process of penning a novel about the exploits of Dean Dangerous which Jeff classifies as the worst book he'll read cover to cover.
    • One episode has the study group telling each other scary stories, all of which suck in different ways.
    • One of the series 2 episodes ends with a terrible animated segment that the Dean is supposed to have made.
    • "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing:"
      • The Dean's rap in The Teaser, which is just a string of random buzzwords put to a beat which consists of just one sound being played over and over again. The looks of confusion on Shirley and Hickey's faces as he's "singing" says it all. Later subverted with the Dean's freestyle rap apologizing for the faculty's paychecks being delayed. It starts as a standard-issue corny white guy rap of the "I'm a peanut bar and I'm here to say" variety, before quickly becoming a genuinely bad-ass, hardcore rap verse. The Dean is as mystified and horrified as everyone else in the room.
      • The VCR board game "Pile of Bullets," where the game itself is incomprehensibly confusing and the video has a grainy and worn effect to show its age. Abed and Annie play it as an Absurdly High-Stakes Game to determine who moves in with them, but both of the other people playing give up trying to figure it out right away.
  • Conan O'Brien's merciless parody of the Spider-Man musical.
  • Dallas: In "Proof Positive", Mandy does a screen test for a film, playing the Love Interest of a cop who is based on Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice. The test is very badly shot and both Mandy and the actor playing the cop exhibit Bad "Bad Acting". It also contains banal dialogue such as "I'm a cop! That's all I know how to be!"
  • Doctor Who:
    • Done for dramatic effect with the Second Doctor's recorder playing in "The Power of the Daleks". He starts off constantly getting the notes wrong, and going right back to the beginning of the tune every time he does, in the manner of a beginner; and his breath control is horrible and leads to him frequently accidentally overblowing it. As he settles into his new personality, he gets better and better at playing it until he's actually pretty good.
    • Harrison Chase's "music" in "The Seeds of Doom".
    • The propaganda film at the start of the serial "The Armageddon Factor" is a classic example... although, as Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide notes, it would have worked better if the rest of the story had been more of an improvement.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's hilariously bad dancing, lovingly dubbed the "Drunk Giraffe" outside the show, is this. Matt Smith was told to dance badly, and he did.
  • Eerie, Indiana: In "No Brain, No Pain", Syndi watches a Soap Opera called Todd and Donna which is badly written, dreadfully shot, and features lots of Bad "Bad Acting".
  • The Eric Andre Show leans heavily on this in the portions that are meant to be a talk show. Eric Andre's abrupt, stoic, reading-off-cue-cards delivery, wildly shifting camera quality, overactive studio audience, terrible hack-writer jokes, and stultifyingly meaningless rambles to his guests all help to create the atmosphere of a really mediocre late-night talk show. This makes it much more shocking when the show starts to go off the rails into absolute lunacy and disturbing bouts of near-horror.
  • One of Eureka's Christmas Episodes turns the town into a cartoon by means of a Super Photon Generator and a children's toy powered by a Lithium Air Battery from a hoverboard. The town and its characters are loving recreated using various animation styles. Beginning with Hanna-Barbera moving on to Claymation and finally Anime. Each time exaggerating that medium's quirks.
  • The show-within-a-show in Extras, When The Whistle Blows. Andy Millman, the main actor and creator of the show, actually wanted to make a television show that sounded very similar to ''Extras'' creator Ricky Gervais's previous series, The Office (UK), but it was the BBC that turned it into a lowest-common-denominator sitcom based on catchphrases, silly costumes, and dumb humor.
  • Father Brown: In "Fire in the Sky", Father Brown and several other characters go to see a B-Movie called Monsters from Mars. The small snippet that gets shown features bad acting, shoddy production values, and obviously cheap special effects.
  • Father Ted opens one episode with a clip from a show called "Father Ben", displaying exactly the same title sequence as its parent show, and hilariously similar yet exaggerated characters.
  • Flash Forward has a recurring kids' cartoon called "Tim Tim and Squirrelio" which looks more like a bad flash cartoon than an actual animated show.
  • Flight of the Conchords has some of this when we see the band actually play a gig. They also appear to only know 2 songs ("Robots" and "Rock the Party"). The music videos in the show that presumably take place in the characters' minds are very good in comparison.
  • Diane's play in Frasier is an exact replica of Cheers, except for the part where all the characters fawn over "Mary-Ann" including "Franklin" who forgives her for jilting him like Diane actually did for real to Frasier. Frasier is not impressed and lets Diane know exactly what he thinks of her.
  • Friends:
    • Shows up a lot with Joey's acting career. Stage, big screen, small screen, whatever his medium, it would be kind to call the results abysmal.
      • Days of Our Lives doesn't escape, despite being a real-life soap. In fact, in one memorable scene, Joey's stalker refuses to believe he is an actor and not really Dr. Drake Ramoray - but is convinced to leave by a badly acted, badly improvised skit concocted by Ross. This reached its height of superb nonsense when Joey's character received a brain transplant so that a woman could live on in Drake's body - but then the body rejected the woman's brain, as explained in a scene where Joey is acting as though he has the brain of Drake, even though Drake's brain was meant to have been damaged beyond repair.
      • And who can forget some of the dross he's been seen in on stage. Freud! The Musical springs to mind. Especially since we got reminded of it in every Clip Show ever. Why couldn't they let us forget it?
      • As Chandler said of Mac And C.H.E.E.S.E., a Buddy Cop Show that paired Joey with a robot, "That was one of the worst things ever. And not just on TV." The ensuing conversation reveals that the others have several "compliments" on standby when the alternatives are either lying or decimating Joey's self-confidence with the truth; Rachel and Monica decide to praise the lighting and the costumes, respectively, while Ross is stuck commenting on the weirdness of seeing Joey on TV while he's also in the room with them - and Phoebe resorts to pressing her chest against Joey's.
    • "Why Don't You Like Me", a one-woman monologue featuring an angry lady shouting her life story at her audience. Chandler, unintentionally left to watch it by himself, gives it a rave review, saying it's deepened his understanding of what women go through. Of course, it was painfully bad - by tricking the friends into seeing it, Chandler gets his revenge.
    • Phoebe's songs don't exactly hit high notes in the music world either. However, unlike Joey's career, this is recognised by everybody but herself.
    • Ross's "wordless sound poems" are just as bad, if not worse.
    • Ross's bagpipe playing. Only Phoebe likes it.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • "The Bloody Hand" is an In-Universe theatrical play loosely based in previous events happening in Westeros, extremely bombastic, ribald in tone, relying heavily on Toilet Humor and taking so many liberties from reality: Joffrey Baratheon is imagined as a decent king, Ned Stark is an incompetent Big Bad Wannabe convinced to take power for himself (when in reality, he is hesitant to rule) and Tyrion Lannister is a lecherous Machiavellian schemer when the real guy tried his best to curb Joffrey's cruelty and keep King's Landing afloat. The play sucks, to put it bluntly (even the characters themselves think so), though Arya Stark notes the actress playing Cersei Lannister is actually good enough to salvage it, making her an Ensemble Dark Horse.
    • Everything Joffrey gets to create after his own imagination winds up like this. When he revamps the formerly beautiful throne room in Season 2, it looks plundered rather than Darker and Edgier the way he intended. In "Two Swords" we see a very tacky statue of him triumphing over a slain wolf. And finally there was that lowbrow dwarf jousting show at his wedding...
  • This is the whole purpose of Garth Marenghis Darkplace The intentionally-awful Show Within a Show is a poorly produced supernatural horror series from The '80s, with amateurish production, atrocious acting, and hack writing that exposes the various bigoted beliefs of the self-important writer. The retrospective cast interviews interspersed throughout each episode are also filled with the trope, showing how the people behind the show are clueless as to their own incompetence and are all pretty awful people.
  • Glee:
    • Rachel's "Run Joey Run" video.
    • "My Headband" and "My Cup," two awful attempts at songwriting.
    • Blaine's big brother Cooper thinks himself a great actor. He's really not.
      Cooper: The secret to great acting, great acting: ignoring whatever the other actor is doing. Eye contact with a scene partner is incredibly distracting; I try to tune them out entirely. Sometimes I wear earplugs. That way I don't get distracted by what they're doing, and I can focus on the awesome acting choices I've planned ahead of time. Like, eating a roast beef sandwich. Right? Other choices I can plan ahead of time: SCREAMING ALL MY LINES! Because I'm really intense, AND THE THINGS I'M FEELING are really intense 'CAUSE I'M AN INTENSE ACTOR!
  • The Head is about an investigation into why the winter team on an Antarctica research station went and killed each other. In the middle of the grim events, there's a moment of levity when someone plays a video left on one of the victim's mobile phones, showing them making a cliched horror movie with everyone stumbling over their lines and hamming it up intensely.
  • As Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is a parody of Super Sentai shows, it frequently and deliberately uses obvious budget-cutting tricks and crappy special effects, ranging from poorly montaged shots to using toys instead of actors. Even the writing is not immune, as the second season starts by giving a completely incorrect recap of season 1.
  • House
    • House enjoys watching a hospital-based soap opera called Prescription Passion while he's supposed to be working. In one episode where he kidnaps the star to treat a condition he's diagnosed by watching the show, it turns out even the male lead thinks the show is terrible. Word of God has it that they originally intended to use clips from General Hospital but were denied, so instead made up their own version of the show that was as ridiculous as possible.
    • An in-universe example is the season 4 episode "Games". A former punk rocker named Jimmy Quidd (possibly based on Johnny Rotten) creates an album of pure, unrelieved, discordant noise, for the sole purpose of messing with people (which sounds a bit like Metal Machine Music).
      House: "Remind me of your influences here. I'm gonna say, Thelonius Monk and the sound a trash compactor makes when you crawl inside it."
  • How I Met Your Mother had a few, although it's unclear if they really were that terrible or if Future Ted is just exaggerating:
    • The show features three comparatively rare music video examples from Robin's days as a Canadian pop star. The first one, at least, is So Bad, It's Good.
    • Also, there's the pretentious experimental play Lily is in (Ted describes it as being below "homeless people screaming at you in the park" as a theatrical experience) and the one-man play Barney does just to get even with Lily for having to sit through it.
    • There's also Doctor X, Ted's persona from his college radio days. Although this definitely counts as So Bad, It's Good too.
    • And the movie The Wedding Bride, which was every Chick Flick cliche turned Up to Eleven.
    • Also the board games made by Lily's dad, many of which no store with any common sense would dare put on their shelves. As just a taste, one of his "board games" consists of nothing more than holding onto jumper cables connected to a car battery.
    • There was also the game show Heads or Tails, in which contestants can win fabulous prizes if they call a coin flip correctly. Granted, the only thing really wrong with it was the premise, but that premise was bad enough to count.
  • iCarly: Subverted. The episodes present the webshow segments in Freddie's perspective being the one behind the video camera (with a battery charge indicator, frames, etc.) The "uploaded" videos on the actual iCarly website look quite similar to what is seen on YouTube (with a small rectangle video frame, with comments and the rest of the site around it).
  • Ijon Tichy: Raumpilot, a German sitcom adaptation of Stanisław Lem's comedic Ijon Tichy short stories and novels, upped its already surreal humour by having the majority of the special effects, alien costumes, etc. deliberately invoke this. They look like something cobbled together for a high school theater play at best (though with surprising attention to details). In addition, Ijon's own spaceship looks like an old coffee press with a rocket exhaust, while its interior looks like a shabby old Berlin flat from the 1970s. The stylistic suck is also subverted heavily by the series also deliberately inserting plenty of good quality CGI between all the otherwise tongue-firmly-in-cheek sets, props, and costuming.
  • I Love Lucy: The episode "The Operetta": Lucy's Women's Club must put on a play despite having no funds. Lucy writes the entire screenplay (including song lyrics) herself and gets Ricky, Ethel, and Fred to act in it. What little we see of the actual play is a non-stop parade of awful dialogue, even worse songwriting, props that wouldn't make the cut in an elementary school play, and an insanely cheesy (not to mention convoluted) plot. The play only lasts one act before repo men shut it down.
  • Iron Fist (2017): This tie-in ad for Colleen Wing's dojo imitates most commercials for martial art schools (or local commercials in general). Colleen delivers her lines in a very monotone and stiff way. Plus some cheesy editing effects. The tie-in website for the dojo even emulates the shoddy performance, choppy animations, and pictures you'd usually see on such sites.
  • The musical Gay that the characters attend in episode 2.1 of The IT Crowd qualifies as this.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • Almost everything Charlie writes is either completely illegible or completely insane, often both. The best example of this would be his song "The Nightman"—Charlie claims it is about the nightman filling him up and he becomes the spirit of the nightman, but the lyrics sound like they are more about a man breaking into his house and raping him. Later when Mac hands Dennis Charlie's lyrics, Dennis asks if it is a page from a coloring book. His musical, "The Nightman Cometh", is an equally strange tale, made worse by The Gang's poor acting and Dee's paranoia about being viewed as a pedophile. Charlie is portrayed as a musical savant though, so the music in The Nightman Cometh is competently written and even catchy, in stark contrast to everything else about it.
    • Throughout the series, The Gang attempts to make movies, video presentations, and commercials. Almost all of them are littered with bad acting and non-sequiturs, as well as sporadic snippets of clips from their previous ventures that they couldn't be bothered to erase.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O is an anniversary series, and each tribute arc to a previous Rider show is written to resemble an arc of the show being tributed. The tribute to the infamous Kamen Rider Kiva brings this trope into play, as nearly every criticized element of Kiva's plot is compressed into the arc, from a melodramatic love story filled with Shocking Swerve moments to a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere appearing only to be defeated within minutes, to a character receiving a major powerup with virtually no fanfare. It is notably the only arc of the show to not be written by Zi-O's main writers, with Kiva's own writer instead returning to do it himself.
  • The L.A. Complex makes it a point how bad Nick's Stand-Up Comedy routine is.
  • Leverage
    • Con artist Sophie Devereaux, who is a terrible actress... unless she's conning someone, in which case she's incredible. The show's so far included a hamtastic rendition of Lady Macbeth, an audition for a soap commercial where she "view[s] the dirt as a metaphor for sin", and an unseen performance of Death of a Salesman where she played Willy Loman.
    • The episode "The Stork Job" also has the team hijack the production of a film shot in Serbia called Howl Force, which features "NATO forces fighting werewolves." Sophie actually turns in a moving performance as a nun who gets shot to death by enemy soldiers... but no one gets it on tape.
    • The episode "The Three Days of the Hunter Job" also had a non-artistic version of this, otherwise much the same, featuring Parker:
      Sophie: You're not supposed to take it, you're supposed to get caught with it.
      Parker: I don't know how to get caught!
      Sophie: Yeah, I know it's difficult to steal badly, just... try.
      [Sophie riffles through a stack of papers loudly, then slams a desk drawer.]
    • In "The Studio Job", the mark is a Country Music singer. The protagonists watch one of his Music Videos, which is so corny and cliched that it leads to Suckiness Is Painful.
  • Lost's Nikki was a guest star on a show called Exposé, which is about strippers who fight crime. The show features melodramatic music, bad acting, and the odious Catchphrase "Razzle dazzle!" yelled by the strippers as they fight. Notable for having Billy Dee Williams as the Big Good except he's secretly the Cobra, the Big Bad!
  • In one episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Lois tries to get a confession out of her sons by torturing them with an obnoxiously repetitive and didactic children's song called "Nice Is Good, Mean Is Bad". The deliberately bad song was provided by Pop Star Composers They Might Be Giants, who also happened to be working on their first children's album, No!, around the same time.
  • The M*A*S*H episode "The Most Unforgettable Characters" has Radar enrolling in a mail-order creative writing course. Throughout the episode, we hear his voiceover narration of the weekly staff report written in ridiculously over-the-top Purple Prose.
    "The friendly old sun showed his friendly hot face over the mountains of purple majesty, as though he was salutating 'Good morning' to all. Alas, alack! The peaceful quietness was detonated by a herd of chopper, transportizing punctured personnel. But our gallant doctors, the miracle medical mortals, are ever-ready to treat the sick..."
  • Australian comedian Shaun Micallef uses this very frequently, both in playing himself as a terrible television host and interviewer in The Micallef Program, and more notably through the persona of David McGhan, who has been a completely idiotic reporter, hosted a nigh-incomprehensible documentary series, and produced and starred his own spy series (Roger Explosion), western (Villain in a Cowboy Hat), courtroom drama (District Attorney Ferguson) and medical drama (Dr. Miracle), all of which were (deliberately) terrible beyond description - or So Bad, It's Good. Also Sotto Vocce, the Spaghetti Western with the inaudible hero, who was carried through to Micaleff's Newstopia series and given classy big-budget production values, but still kept the same bad acting and relevant cliches.
  • Monk:
    • Randy Disher's attempts to be a rocker in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist" result in at least one hilariously bad video. We only see part of it in the episode, and it clearly looks like it was made on a very low budget. You can watch the full version on USA Network's site or by searching for it on YouTube, where you can see its low quality in the fact that they just did a lot of green-screen work and superimposed images instead of doing location shooting like most music videos go with.
    • Karen Stottlemeyer's documentaries are apparently very terrible, enough that Leland refuses to watch them even though she hawks him in "Mr. Monk and the Very Very Old Man" to watch her documentary about Miles Holling, the oldest man in the world, which Monk and Leland have to struggle to stay awake to watch.
  • In a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, the movie Scott of the Antarctic is renamed Scott of the Sahara so Scott can get to fight a lion. The fight scene starts with the charge of a Stock Footage lion, which reaches Scott as a lifeless dummy lion. Halfway through the fight, the dummy is replaced with an actor in a lion suit who punches Scott and hits him over the head with a chair. At the end, as was promised by Idle's character, the blood goes "psssh!" in slow motion....with all the drama of water from a drinking fountain. In the next scene, Oates is pitted against the giant electric penguin... that is very obviously a reverse angle, forced perspective shot of a toy penguin about six inches tall. When Oates defeats the penguin by taking a cue from David's fight against Goliath, the model simply falls over backwards as though hit by a stiff breeze.
  • The Muppet Show pretty much runs on this trope. Fozzie Bear's terrible comedy act is the most obvious example; but it's also a good description of many other major and minor characters, particularly Miss Piggy, and the hapless duo Wayne and Wanda. The Loretta Lynn episode took this to the next level, since it was held at a train station instead of at the Muppet Theater, and everyone had to improvise. The title logo and all the backgrounds were hand-drawn (badly), the opening and closing music was off-key (being conducted by a train conductor instead of Nigel), and the acts were even more chaotic than usual.
  • Muppets Tonight has a brief glimpse of something called The Mario Nuts Show, which in addition to being terrible, has to look like a puppet show in a world where the Muppets are real.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000, Crow T. Robot is shown to be a budding theater screenwriter. However, his ideas tend to be... out there. Among those ideas include Earth vs. Soup, which pits the people of Earth against a gigantic bowl of soup and Peter Graves At the University of Minnesota. Whenever these ideas come up, expect Joel, Mike, and/or Tom to question Crow's motives and writing style.
  • MythBusters sometimes has the crew members reenact movie scenes (or do their own) that illustrate a myth that they're testing. Often, they don't really make an effort to make the acting (or, in some cases, special effects) believable. Generally, the "worse" ones will be lampshaded by revealing how they were shot—the Chroma Key fades to green, the camera pulls back enough to show some details of the set, etc. Most noticeable for the bus jump from Speed, and the Point Break (1991) "trilogy" of myths based on the plane jump.
  • McGee's novel from NCIS, a parody of the trashy bestseller. People like his books, but they're not good. The extra joke being how seriously he takes his writing.
  • The Show Within a Show surgical drama Hearts'N'Scalpels on Nip/Tuck.
  • The Office (US):
    • Threat Level Midnight, Michael's action movie. Looks like what one expects a movie written by a regional manager and filmed in his free time over eleven years would look like.
    • The hilariously bad yet accurate sexual harassment training video ("Are you a real redhead?") and the children's show (Fundle Bundle). And Kelly's video,
The Girl Next Door.
  • A short "webisode" focused on Kelly, Erin, Ryan and Andy collaborating on a music video for an original song on company time. Like with Threat Level Midnight, a lot of the humor is in their trying to replicate a big-budget pop music video in an office building with no budget. Also, Ryan is the one who does the obligatory A Wild Rapper Appears! bridge.
  • From Once Upon a Time, we have a commercial for Ruby's diner that was obviously filmed in front of a green screen, and Ruby advertising with a very stilted voice.
  • In Orphan Black's second season, Alison's in a community theatre musical that is ridiculously campy even before a drunk Alison walks off the stage on opening night. The musical's creators even came in to create the campy community theatre version seen on the show.
  • On Queer as Folk there was a Show Within a Show called Gay as Blazes which was shown to be extremely politically correct, and thus dull and overall very bad, although all the characters except Brian loved it. It was a very unsubtle Take That! to the critics who complained that Queer as Folk itself wasn't PC enough, and eventually Brian mentions that it was cancelled.
  • Raumschiff Orion, the first (1965) German SF TV series. Of course, they didn't have the great FX then (and replaced it with utter creativity) but it's fair to list it under this trope because it will forever be remembered as The One with... the flat iron. (As center of the starship bridge.)
  • An episode of Red Dwarf features a B-Movie, Attack of the Giant Savage Completely Invisible Aliens, the trailer of which is little more than people pointing at things that aren't there and a flying saucer on a fishing line. There's also the Neighbours parody Androids, which features (literally) robotic acting and deliberate 'mistakes'.
  • On some episodes of The Red Green Show, Ranger Gord did "educational" forest-themed cartoons, with animal versions of the Possum Lodge members and a Parody Sue version of Gord. Gord's actor (Peter Keleghan) did all the voices in a deliberately bad style, and the animation was intentionally jerky.
  • The '70s music drama Rock Follies centred on the lives and trials of a three-girl band who were top of the pop/rock charts, and meant In-Universe, to be a famous hot property. The drama was good and the stars credible. Until they took the stage. Rock Follies was seriously let down by the music and the songs written for the show which strained credibility. People asked in what music-starved alternative universe could a band like this be acclaimed talented and listenable.
  • Roundhouse, with its cardboard props and practically non-existent sets, seems to fit this rather well. (And Word of God has stated it's designed to look like kids doing a show with practically nothing.)
  • An episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has Sabrina attempting to write a romance short story as an assignment: "Claire looked at Robert, and Robert looked at Claire. Claire and Robert were looking at each other. Claire didn't want to fall in love but nothing in her crazy life made sense and she lost all feeling in her thumbs!" Needless to say, the episode was about how she was failing that class. The one she ultimately submitted was a cliched spy novel that, while better, was still pretty cheesy with a fair amount of Fridge Logic, even as it was magically brought to life, plus originally had a fairly depressing The Bad Guy Wins outcome since Sabrina was too lazy to think of a better ending.
  • In The Sarah Silverman Program, Brian's favourite TV show is something called "Doctor Lazer Rage", a No Budget British science-fiction show starring ex-Doctor Christopher Eccleston doing a send-up of his own performance, by way of David Tennant's Doctor and Roj Blake. What little we see of the show involves incredibly unconvincing CGI and monsters, and Eccleston's character acting painfully well despite the ludicrous Ice-Cream Koan and Cliché Storm dialogue they're making him say while wearing a dreadful shiny jacket and wielding a silly raygun that makes cheesy zap sounds.
  • Saturday Night Live is in love with this trope...
    • The show had its running series in the 1970s episodes hosted by Leonard Pinth-Garnell (Dan Aykroyd) featuring "Bad Theater", "Bad Cinema", "Bad Musicals", "Bad Children's Cabaret", etc.
    • Also worth noting is the recurring "Digital Short" "Laser Cats". Each "Laser Cats" begins with Andy Samberg and Bill Hader pitching their idea to showrunner Lorne Michaels. In the future, cats develop the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths. The shorts feature them as Admiral Spaceship and Nitro, Space Police who fight evil with laser cats. The shorts are all shot with handheld cameras in locations that are obviously just back halls of the SNL studio, featuring terrible special effects, Bad "Bad Acting", poor costumes, and "cats" that switch between real cats and stuffed ones without warning. Each time, Hader and Samberg think "Laser Cats" is brilliant; Michaels just tells them to get the hell out of his office (though the one with Steven Spielberg backing it up did make Lorne Michaels reconsider, even if he had to lie about how good it was).
    • Another sketch from an episode hosted by Ben Affleck showed the making of Argo from the perspective of the Iranian government, mostly to counter the negative image of the country depicted in the film. The country's Minister of Film directs the film and plays Affleck in it. He's quite bad at both. (His portrayal of Affleck has him say "Hahvahd Yahd in the cah." before each of his lines.) Surprisingly, Affleck himself appears in the movie, but he says it's because he wanted to appear in a worse movie than Gigli.
  • Schitt's Creek has a few examples.
    • Moira auditions for a Bosnian horror film called The Crows Have Eyes II but rejects the part when she realizes she would have to pay her way to the set. Later, she takes the part in The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crownening, which thanks to Moira's efforts becomes a comeback vehicle for her.
    • Moira starred on a Soap Opera called Sunrise Bay as a character who was famous for slapping her co-stars and who suffered all sorts of outrageous storylines. In Season 6, we finally get to see scenes from the show, with Catherine O'Hara and Victor Garber as Moira's leading man, hamming it up with glee.
    • Moira's untalented daughter Alexis starred in and sung the title song of her "critically reviewed" limited reality series "A Little Bit Alexis." Alexis auditions for her mother's community theatre production by singing the song and busting out mid-oughts dance moves.
  • Seinfeld
    • In the episode where we hear George sing an answering machine message to the tune of the Greatest American Hero theme song, Broadway star Jason Alexander had to tone down his singing talent to sound more like George would sing. Even then, show composer Jonathan Wolff recalls that Alexander's singing was felt to be too good, so he altered the backing track to make it a little flatter, making Alexander's voice sound slightly off-key by contrast.
    • Elaine's awful dancing also fits this trope.
    • The real Jerry Seinfeld's comedic style is sometimes spoofed in self-deprecating fashion with his character's comedy in-show. His Beam Me Up, Scotty! Catchphrase pretty much only came up in the context of this kind of Self-Parody, as in "The Invitations" when he dates his Distaff Counterpart and her reflexive "what's the deal with"-ing begins to grate on his nerves ("So what's the deal with brunch? If I mean, if it's a combination of breakfast and lunch, how comes there's no lupper, or no linner?"), or "The Abstinence" when he performs for career day at his former middle school:
      Jerry: Hey kids! What's the deal with homework? You're not working on your home! (chorus of booing)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017):
    • The Marvelous Marriage by Al Funcoot, consists of 90% Olaf declaiming about being a handsome man in various locales, with the White-Faced Women popping out from behind him to say they must have him or they'll die (because he's so handsome), and 10% forcing Violet to marry him. The look on the audience's faces during the final scene implies that that first part went on for hours.
    • Zombies in the Snow from the third episode looks like something so bad that not even MST3K would take it on. It makes sense, once you realize the films have to be rushed out so that secret codes can be sent to their intended audience.
    • Hypnotists in the Forest, seen in the eighth episode, isn't much better.
  • In Skins Series 3, Freddie's sister takes part in a TV talent competition to join girl group "Da Sexxbombz". The show is like an even more crass, sleazy version of The X Factor or American Idol.
  • Christopher Multisanti seems to be a magnet for this trope in The Sopranos. Season 1 introduces the godawful band Visiting Day, which he is forced to help promote with his girlfriend Adriana. Later seasons introduce his screenplay and later film, which is basically a poorly-spelled Cliché Storm of bad mafia-movie and horror-film tropes.
  • Spaced character Brian Topp is an artist whose work embodies all the cliches of a tortured, pretentious, self-absorbed, angst-fueled performance-artist stereotype, pushed to their limits. Though the writers created it as if seriously trying to come up with a piece of performance art, according to the commentary, knowing that it would be funnier than if they tried to parody the style.
  • The whole point of The Spoils of Babylon, which is presented as a self-indulgent vanity project by the fictional hack author Eric Jonrosh that got shelved in 1979 and is now being unearthed. It's full of Bad "Bad Acting" deliberate Special Effects Failures and an entire part played by a mannequin voiced by Carey Mulligan. It's essentially a Transatlantic Equivalent of Garth Marenghis Darkplace, but lampooning overblown "event" miniseries rather than supernatural horror shows.
  • Wormhole X-Treme!, a Show Within a Show from the Stargate SG-1 episode of the same name. It can be considered either a self-parody or an Anvilicious Take That! against the campier predecessors of Stargate; either way, it's full of Take Thats directed at earlier SG-1 episodes.
  • An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had the crew trapped in a 1920's style gangster story that repeated itself over and over and kept them from leaving. Upon examining the hotel that was the setting, they discover the skeletal remains of an astronaut. Reading his diary reveals that his ship encountered aliens which accidentally killed his crew. Out of remorse, they placed the lone survivor in a replication of what they thought he would be happy with. Unfortunately, the only reference they had to what life was like on Earth was a copy of a trashy novel he had brought along with him. The astronaut laments that, while he believes the aliens meant well, the characters are so shallow and the plot is so derivative, that it has become a living hell and he eagerly looks forward to the sweet release of death.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • The Adventures of Captain Proton holonovels. A deliberate send-up of the old sci-fi film serials that, to today's jaded viewers, really did suck.
    • The Doctor ticks off the crew by incorporating them into one of his own holonovels, which are already bad. Tom Paris takes revenge by rewriting the novel, meaning that now it depicts the Doc in a horrible light (as opposed to his crewmates). The best (or worst, depending on your point of view) part of the joke was that once he sees things from the crew's perspective in Tom's rewrite, he finishes it (presumably in a form they're okay with), and publishes it, and it's implied that it may well start a rebellion of some kind among EMHs being used as miners in a capacity not unlike slaves.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Heaven's Skate", the DXter clinical computer simulation is poorly shot and is filled with Bad "Bad Acting" and banal dialogue.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip tried to do this with the never seen "Peripheral Vision Man" sketches, which are continually derided as awful. This ended up misfiring, as all of the "brilliant" sketches that are shown are completely terrible, one wonders how bad Peripheral Vision Man could possibly be, especially considering that it's the only sketch premise that might actually appear on a real sketch comedy show.
  • Supernatural:
    • the character Becky writes fanfiction that applies Rule 34 to the in-universe series of novels describing the lives of the protagonists. The excerpt of her work that actually appears on the show is full of Narm and Fetish Retardant.
    • The above-mentioned in-universe series is a far-superior, more-accurate, and very popular (among those who know about it), series that chronicles their lives, written by a prophet called Chuck who knows what will happen to them shortly before they do. Its quality is justified, seeing that Chuck is actually God. Sam and Dean still aren't very happy with its existence.
    • Dean heatedly denies watching Dr. Sexy, MD. When he's Trapped in TV Land, we see the show is full of medical drama cliches and an inexplicably attractive hospital staff.
  • Ever wonder why Super Sentai, and by extension Power Rangers doesn't have very good effects? This trope!
    • Really, any modern Tokusatsu could count to the point it needs its own page!
  • A Taxi episode had Bobby get a role on a soap opera, with many jokes about how the show's star is constantly crying. Alex even reads part of the script, which specifies the exact way she should be crying with every line.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Terminator Cromartie imitates an actor. After some of Cromartie's crimes become public, a few clips from one of his movies are shown. They're about a barbarian and include a lovely blond wig, poorly spliced-in footage of a tiger, and utterly legendary acting. It's an obvious Shout-Out to Arnold Schwarzenegger's role in the Conan films, though it seems a bit more Beast Master.
  • A recurring sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look features two scriptwriters who don't do their research. Any reserch. Their sports drama is filled with Gretzky Has the Ball; their hospital show was written without knowing any medical terms, and so on. Faced with their Bad Bad Scripts, it's apparent that everyone else involved ceases to care, so we get Bad "Bad Acting" as well.
  • This trope is pretty much the entire shtick of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. The entire series can be most easily described as "what bad public television from the '80s and '90s would be like in your nightmares"...
  • Twin Peaks and its in-series soap opera Invitation to Love.
  • Two and a Half Men:
    • The jingles Charlie writes. Granted jingles are rarely good in the first place, but one glaring example is when The Rival is set to win his eighth award in a row, which Charlie was only nominated for. The rival goes on stage to perform his song, and it is of course as cheesy and hammy as you can imagine. Yet the rival wins again.
    • Also happens when Alan decides to write a book.
    • And his screenplay. "Suddenly a meteor comes out of the sky..."
  • This is the entire premise behind Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques, a spoof of 1980s British soap operas which formed a recurring sketch on Victoria Wood As Seen On TV. The sketches exaggerated all the problems resulting from the unfeasibly tight schedules and low budgets of soaps, including wobbly sets (with which the actors often collided), underrehearsed actors flubbing lines and missing cues while obviously reading cue cards, visible technical equipment (with which the actors also often collided), crew members audibly hissing directions from off-screen, ill-fitting costumes, obvious continuity errors, and stories rife with absurd twists, implausible dialogue, unresolved subplots, and wildly inconsistent characterisation. Even the credits were not immune to technical problems and corner-cutting; the theme tune went from a tinny synthesiser recording to a piano version clearly recorded on audio cassette in someone's living room, while the cast credits were often carelessly slid on and off the screen.
  • Werner and Zini, German children's show. Zini ("the Wuslon from the Planet of Electronides") was nothing but an in-projected electronic trick in the shape of a yellow circle but they made the most of it and compensated with copious shades of What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?.
  • White Rabbit Project: In the DB Cooper legend of the Heists episode, most of the special effects are CGI, except a scene with Tory holding a model plane in front of a special effects fan and fog machine, for Rule of Funny.
  • Will & Grace: Anything Jack acts in counts, especially if he wrote it too.
  • The X-Files has the movie featured in "Hollywood AD", about one of Mulder and Scully's cases. It's a cheap-looking action movie, with the pair of them do traditional Hollywood quips. Both Mulder and Scully express disgust though Scully is also above it and looks amused with the whole silly thing.


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