Television - Breaking The Fourth Wall

I’m a sucker for this sort of thing when done well. Having finally entered the 21st century and embraced my Roku, I started watching House of Cards this week, and it seems to do a pretty good job of it.

The other show that comes to mind, of course is It’s Gary Shandling’s Show. But the most creative use of fourth wall-breaking was the old Burns and Allen show, Not only did George Burns address the audience on a regular basis, but whenever he wanted to find out what wacky hijinx Gracie was up to, he’d turn on the television and watch the show himself. Brilliant.

Are there any other shows I’m missing that do a good job of it?

I always enjoyed it’s use in Scrubs and Community. There was an older comedy I loved as a kid that I was first introduced to the concept, and my Mom hated that show actually for that very reason, but it eludes me what the show was… let me see if I can track it down.

No, it was not Saved by the Bell. Though I do remember that breaking the fourth wall as well.

I saw lots of lists, and shows I forgot did it (like Fresh Prince of Bel Air) but none of them are the one I’m thinking of. Frustrating.

Rick and Morty does this really well. Just watched the whole series on Hulu over the holidays!

The best fourth wall (IMHO) was the British original/version; House of Cards.

Strictly speaking, Community only breaks the fourth wall in the penultimate episode. It flirts with it quite aggressively, but crucially it avoids crossing the line entirely until the stinger after Garrett’s wedding.

Arrested Development - though almost all of it was by Our Narrator.

Modern Family made a lot of use of it early in the show. Not as much now.

Moonlighting was pretty good with this. Also Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.

And for more recent, it’s sort of central to Mr. Robot.

The new Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events does this as well. Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, the narrator, frequently shows up in scenes to address the audience and often encourages them to stop watching the show because the events it depicts are simply too horrible.

Pretty much any Seth MacFarlane animation?

Fleabag, on Amazon. Highly recommended.

There was a spate of '80s sitcom special episodes, where the actors would break character and address the camera about the moral of the story. Dinosaurs had to have a special episode to warn the audience about the epidemic of these special episodes.

I dunno. “Tell your disappointment to suck it. I’m doing a bottle episode!” I think that went from heavy flirting to at least third base.

Nah, that’s just part of Abed’s in-universe schtick of referring to semesters as seasons & pretending the group is a show. The other characters occasionally humor him or, in this case, get frustrated enough to address it head on. But they’re talking to the other characters, not the audience. Obviously the show is talking to us, but the characters aren’t.

You could just as well say that Abed’s direct descriptions of the claymation in his Christmas episode are breaking the fourth wall, but from within the story, he’s just describing his mental breakdown (so to speak) to the others.