TV Shows Where Celebrities Play Themselves
In news that few will be surprised by, it was announced on Tuesday that Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, is currently developing a TV show about himself for the FOX network. The series, titled My Friend 50, will follow a character called Amanda Kramer, described as being "an unstable twentysomething who believes that joining 50 Cent’s entourage is the answer to all her problems" with Kramer producing a "bizarre documentary" about the rappers entourage, which I assume will become the basis for the show. Though 50 Cent is an executive producer on the show about his own crew, Deadline reports that he'll only be making "occasional appearances" as himself, which is a little disappointing to say the least.
Part of the reason for this is disappointment is because, at this point in television history, there's been such a vast array of successful shows in which celebrities have played vastly exaggerated versions of themselves on TV that it's surely time for an individual like 50 Cent to lighten up and poke a little more fun at himself, too?
For many celebrities who go down the self-referential route, it's the perfect way to boost any career, giving celebrities a chance to poke fun at their job prospects within the industry. For others, it provides the perfect opportunity to shed an outdated public persona and have some fun playing completely against type. Either way, 50 Cent should be grabbing this opportunity by the horns, and he could be taking a lot of cues from some really great success stories:
1. Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
In many ways, you could credit David as being one of the true originators of self-referential comedy: from Seinfeld all the way through to the eternally awkward Curb Your Enthusiasm, he proves that some people are truly so socially blundering that every day is a comedy episode waiting to happen — no writing required.
2. James Van Der Beek (Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23)
The Beek from The Creek, JVDB is probably one of my favourite names on this list for the sheer, undeniable fact that he absolutely nails playing a self-obsessed, criminally bitter version of himself (with great dancing skills) in this short lived comedy.
3. Louis C.K. (Louie)
As an extension of one of Louis C.K.'s stand up shows, Louie presents a darkly comedic, fictionalized version of Louis C.K.'s real life in which the comedian has the pleasure of accentuating all the curt, downtrodden, and frustrating life experiences that make his stand up sets so appealing.
4. Steve Coogan (The Trip)
Though The Trip was later condensed into a feature length movie for U.S. audiences, in the U.K., it originally aired as a miniseries in which Coogan portrays an exaggeratedly narcissistic version of himself touring restaurants with Welsh comic Rob Brydon, constantly struggling to outdo the comedian with celebrity impressions and failing to impress in the name dropping department.
5. Chelsea Handler (After Lately)
As a mockumentary about the behind-the-scenes happenings of Handler's talk show Chelsea Lately, After Lately was sharp and sardonic, taking swipes at it's own show and making Handler look like an insatiable, petulant piece of work in the process.
6. Matt LeBlanc (Episodes)
LeBlanc clearly loves playing this ruthlessly egotistical version of himself who is, in many ways, like an evil version of Joey Tribbiani: greedy, heavy drinking, a self-serving womanizer and hardly the smartest actor on the books. LeBlanc is an absolute horror (and a joy to watch) in this role.
7. Will Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory)
For many self proclaimed Trekkies, Wheaton had earned a notoriety for playing one of the least popular Star Trek characters of all time. So, pitching the actor as a regular arch nemesis for control freak (and Trekkie) Sheldon Cooper was a touch of true genius casting with Wheaton excelling at playing the Khan to Sheldon's Kirk.
8. Kelly Ripa (Broad City)
Ripa is America's sweetheart — I know this, you know this, and Abbi Jacobson in Broad City also knows this. So when Jacobson gets invited in to her apartment after returning a coat to her, she discovers that her hero isn't the good girl she seems to be and is actually a well-oiled party machine. (And then some!) Ripa clearly has a blast playing completely against type and it's a riot from start to finish.
9. Adam West (Family Guy)
West is no stranger to playing himself, having had a guest appearance in an episode of The Simpsons in which he plays a slightly deranged version of himself obsessed with how Batman used to be. West continues portraying this maniacal version of himself in Family Guy, in which he's the totally batsh*t (no pun intended), cat loving, Mayor of Quahog.
10. Carl Weathers (Arrested Development)
The Rocky and Predator actor plays an acting teacher of Tobias Fünke whose heart isn't quite into the enterprise as much as Tobias' is. Every scene featuring Weathers, who has a habit of educating his student on the best ways to get freebies, is absolute gold.
11. Marc Maron (Maron)
The insanely popular podcaster transfers his real life struggles to the screen in this comedy in which the navigations of success and a growing celebrity often need to be watched through the safety of your own hands. Maron is unflinchingly self-deprecating and at times unbearably cringe worthy.
So, you see, I really do think it's a real shame that 50 Cent isn't just throwing himself into the project in full — though I'm sure the project will be great either way, there's definitely a lot of evidence proving that the method of playing an exaggerated version of oneself is always a good idea when it comes to TV.
Images: HBO; FX; E!; CBS; 20th Century Fox; IFC