This show is not only a classic example of metafiction, it also has a lot of the nuanced metafictive devices that have grown in popularity since it’s release. No gimmicks here. The story is full of compelling transformations and conflicts. Watch for the nuanced variation in characters’ awareness of structure; one character goes so far as declaring to another: “you’re not real, man!” While others ignore the camera most (if not all) of the time.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Yes, this literary adaptation is overtly metafictive. The narrator, Lemony Snicket, doubles as a character in the story, though he doesn’t participate as such (yet)! It’s especially exciting to see what this show does with chronotopes. Sometimes Lemony is telling us the story as it’s happening, while other times he’s describing his investigation of the event long after it happened. You’ll find prime examples of cinematic misdirection in this one.
Parks and Recreation
A descendant of The Office, this show has the same kind of documentary-style interactions between the characters and the production crew. The form, however, still manages to bring up new questions. This one’s less about the producer-character relationship as it is about how the characters negotiate among themselves their position towards the audience, and like its predecessor, it’s full of diverse and inspiring personalities.
Malcolm in the Middle
If you want to learn to write, you must watch this show. It’s hilarious and brilliant. No line goes to waste. The performances are spectacular. The protagonist, Malcolm, will share an exclusive relationship with you as he can speak to the camera, though it appears that no else can. It’s a great way to characterize his intelligence, and still quite remarkable when you consider that it aired at the dawn of the new millennium.
Ouran Highschool Host Club
This hilarious animated series is conveniently self-aware when it matters most. It not only pokes fun at itself, but at its own fans, representing them through a hyperbolic character named Renge who acts as the self-proclaimed “manager” of the main cast, making plans for their plot lines and interactions. The characterization is strong, sweet, and the story has a nice tight arc that stretches just over two dozen episodes where most in this genre are of epic length. This gives it a succinct quality that is both charming and effective.