We live in strange times, with reality increasingly resembling a poorly-written TV show. But you needn't panic, because TV screenwriters are on hand to blur the distinction between fact and fiction even further.
The last decade brought us sitcoms like Arrested Development, Community and 30 Rock - shows that boldly explored new frontiers of ironic deconstruction. Their influence has percolated throughout the entertainment industries (there was even an Arrested Development joke in Frozen, of all places). Whether it is self-referential jokes, a show-within-a-show, fourth-wall breaking or pulling back the curtain entirely, self-awareness in one form or another has never been more ubiquitous on TV.
But it doesn’t always work. Done right, an unintrusive meta joke rewards eagle-eyed viewers with a knowing nod from the filmmakers, giving the show a life outside of itself. Done wrong, it can derail a show and alert the audience to the artifice. It can be hard to suspend your disbelief when the script keeps actively discouraging it.
Here are 9 times that TV programmes have sailed too close to the sun in their attempts at edgy self-commentary.
9. Ed Sheeran Sings On Game Of Thrones
Game of Thrones Season 7 had its fair share of knowing lines. There was Ser Davos' nod to the Where is Gendry? meme, and Jaime's inability to keep track of all of the show's names (who can blame him?). But none of these moments strained credulity as much as a certain musical cameo did.
When other musicians have made appearances, they have had the good sense to remain lowkey - nobody noticed the Coldplay drummer in 'The Rains of Castemere', and Sigur Ros and Mastodon make more sense in Westeros than real life, anyway. 'Dragonstone', however, sees Ed Sheeran, clad in Lannisterian armour, singing an entire song. Whilst Sheeran's voice actually has the kind of nondescript blandness one would expect of a medieval balladeer, it was overkill to have the singer smugly say, “It’s a new one”, stopping just short of winking at the camera and providing the song’s iTunes details.