The Road’s show-within-a-show takes us on a journey back in time

15 May 2017

The Road’s show-within-a-show takes us on a journey back in time

Award-winning South African telenovela The Road launched today on Showmax, bringing a mix of action, drama, mystery and ’50s musical entertainment to our screens. But it’s more than just a beautiful, time-hopping, past-and-present tale of love and mystery set in Sophiatown – The Road centres on a fictional TV series that’s playing out in the midst of the Mzansi Magic telenovela.

In The Road, the film team at Bambatha Productions are taping a story set during the apartheid years about star-crossed lovers. But then the head producer is found murdered, and the writer is forced to go on a trip down memory lane as he revisits the story he’s telling onscreen, how it actually played out in the past, and how it’s affecting him in the present. The two storylines are closely intertwined as they twist and turn in an expert, masterful example of the show-within-a-show storytelling technique.

5 other shows-within-a-show on Showmax

When it comes to TV, we find the technique of two parallel stories being weaved together particularly addictive. Luckily for us, The Road isn’t the only title in the Showmax line-up that uses it successfully. Here are five other movies and series that use the double-fun device with great dramatic and comic effect.

1. UnReal (Seasons 1 and 2)

The show within the show: Reality dating series Everlasting

There’s as much drama behind the scenes of a reality show as in front of the cameras. Just ask producer Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby) and executive producer Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) – they’re pulling the strings on fictional dating show Everlasting (similar to The Bachelor). Rachel and Quinn lie, cheat and steal their way into getting higher ratings, but it’s taking strain on their private lives. Not that they’re worried about bending rules – having no job means even more stress, so guess where the pair are focusing their attention? Taking their show-within-a-show to all-new lows in order to reach those ratings highs.

2. Morning Glory (2010 romcom)

The show within the show: Morning news broadcast DayBreak

Ambitious and dedicated exec producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is fixated on giving her viewers the best morning news possible on DayBreak. And that’s a problem for her love life. Well, it would be if she even had a love life. Her career-driven personality scares off suitors at 100 paces and she’s left with hollow, meaningless half-romances. But all that changes when she realises that her job isn’t as secure as she’d thought. Also starring Harrison Ford as the meanest, crankiest newscaster ever seen on TV.

3. iCarly (all 5 seasons are available on Showmax)

The show within the show: Web series iCarly

Lead character Carly (Miranda Cosgrove) has a web series called iCarly. In the fictional online series, teenybopper tech-head Carly chats about everything trending for teens and tweens, from social media and music to the latest in pop culture. It’s a fun release for Carly who’s dealing with typical teen life, but thanks to her quick thinking, she and her producer friends Sam and Freddie (Jennette McCurdy and Nathan Kress) are able to overcome any snags while making their series. And boy, are there lots of them!

4. Entourage (all 8 seasons are available on Showmax)

The show within the show: Warrior action show Viking Quest

While the hit series (which is based on the life of exec producer Mark Wahlberg) centres around handsome and successful actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), it’s his lesser-achieving actor brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillion) who’s the real star. While living in his brother’s shadow, Drama is trying to resurrect his career now that his show Viking Quest is over – don’t worry, there are loads of references and a couple of zany flashbacks with Drama in his cheesy Viking outfit. But that’s easier said than done because there’s no “easy time” with Drama. How do you think he earned his nickname? It’s not because he’s easy to work with…

PS: Viking Quest was turned into an online flash game on the Entourage home page in 2008 as a promotional gimmick for season 5.

5. The Big Bang Theory (Seasons 1-8)

The show within the show: Web series Fun With Flags

Not content with being a super genius, Dr Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) is trying to spread the word about flags and their importance. How, you ask? Through his edu-tainment web series Fun With Flags. And sure, there might not be a single subscriber tuning in to find out which two countries in the world have the same flags or why Nepal’s flag is special (spoiler: it’s a triangle), but that’s not stopping Dr Cooper.

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