Two for One Show

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A sub-division of the Show Within a Show, the Two for One Show effectively gives the viewer... well, two shows for the price of one. That is, the show is relatively evenly split between a fictional Show Within a Show and the "real life" stories of the main cast. Such series are typically set in the television media, allowing for "behind the scenes" action to be intercut with the fictional show.

This is different from other shows-within-shows in that the show-within-a-show is also treated as "real" entertainment and broadcast as such, so that anyone turning on in the middle of that segment might think that it's a genuine talk show/panel series/light entertainment show etc. This rules out the talk radio sequences in Frasier, for example, since the viewer is aware that he is looking through a camera that should not actually be in Frasier's studio.

Additionally, the show within a show needs to be a prominent part of the series rather than a short sequence seen in some episodes (such as the Tool Time segments in Home Improvement).

A sign that a show is a Two for One Show is having full lists of Dramatis Personae for both the Show Within a Show and its frame (with a large overlap in the names of the Real Life players, of course).

The behind-the-scenes moments may be shot in a Faux Documentary fashion.

Examples of Two for One Show include:

Films -- Live-Action

  • The movie A Prairie Home Companion features several musical acts in the style of the radio show on which it is based, performed by the characters. In fact, the DVD version comes with videos of these performances, without the behind-the-scenes action of the rest of the movie.
    • The DVD of A Mighty Wind also included a full video of the concert from the last portion of the movie, exactly as it would have been shown on public television. Considering the (unexpected, unless you like old folk songs) quality of the music, and the fact that you're basically watching the same movie from an entirely different vantage point, it's actually pretty cool.
  • The Neverending Story is split between Bastian reading the mystical book, and an enactment of the events occurring in the book itself, which converge into one world as Bastian enters Fantasia.


Live-Action TV

  • The Larry Sanders Show takes this tack, with backstage plots affecting "onscreen" interviews.
  • It was originally intended that Thirty Rock would do this, but this idea was abandoned when it was decided that spending a lot of time on the fictional show would eat up screen time without advancing the plot. The series now focuses almost entirely on behind-the-scenes action with sketches being shown only when they're plot-relevant.
  • Britcom Annually Retentive cuts between the behind-the-scenes work on a panel show with the panel show itself, usually to undermine the chummy demeanour of its host and show how panel show contestants are fed answers and jokes ahead of time.
  • A variation of this is seen in the early-to-mid seasons of Seinfeld, which would intercut Jerry's stand up comedy routines with the sitcom action. Usually the routines commented on the events in the sitcom portion of the show, but occasionally characters from the sitcom portion would appear in the stand-up crowd sequences. These stand-up sequences were later demoted to bookending each episode and eventually dropped altogether.
  • A weird variation of this can be seen in the linked UK series Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach. Each episode of the comedy Moving Wallpaper follows the production of an episode of a fictional soap opera called Echo Beach. The twist is that these episodes are then followed by full length episodes of Echo Beach, which is played as a straight soap. Viewers can then see how the behind-the-scenes actions in the first series affect the stories of the second series - for example, an actress may trade sex for stardom in Moving Wallpaper, only for the next episode of Echo Beach to feature her in a much more prominent role.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a feature film heckling bridged with skits that display the lives of the Satellite occupants.
  • The Famous Jett Jackson would cut from Jett's life to his television show, Silverstone. Artemus, Silverstone's mentor, is only ever known as that because the actor who plays him is so mysterious. The Made for TV Movie takes this to the logical extreme by having Jett and Silverstone switch places.
  • The Disney Channel show Sonny With a Chance would occasionally show skits from the Show Within a Show So Random!
    • Even more so in Season two, and after Demi Lovato's rehab stint for self-harm and bulimia.
  • Burt Ludddin's Love Buffet was a real game show interspersed with fictional "behind the scenes" elements.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look includes "behind the scene" sketches of the two main actors talking to each other in wardrobe, in makeup, in a planning session, filming another sketch, etc.
  • In iCarly, the eponymous show (how's that for meta?) has at least one episode every episode. The TV viewers don't always get to see the entire episode of the web original, but it follows the trope closely.
  • Wishbone was fairly evenly split between Wishbone's real life events and whichever piece of literature he was reading.


  • Graphic novel example: in a few issues of the Comic Book Watchmen, a pirate comic read by one of the characters is inserted into the comic itself. The plot of the pirate comic metaphorically reflects the "real" events happening in the rest of the story, especially Ozymandias's plot.

Puppet Shows

  • The Muppet Show and its follow-up, Muppets Tonight, were both evenly split between the variety acts of the eponymous shows and the backstage story, with the two affecting each other.


  • Noises Off by Michael Frayn is a farce revolving around the production of a farce called Nothing On. Every act of the play is a performance of the play-within-a-play, seen twice from the front and once from behind the scenes.
  • Kiss Me Kate (musical and movie) has a musical production of The Taming of the Shrew going on with parallel relationships among the actors in it.
  • The musical City of Angels depicts both the action of a Film Noir and a behind-the-scenes story of Executive Meddling.
  • Raiders of the Lost Jedi Temple of Doom: A Fan Film of Epic Proportions is a play about two filmmakers who win a contest to make a fan film at the Disney Studios.
  • Curtains is a musical send-up of backstage murder mystery plots, set in 1959 Boston, Massachusetts and follows the fallout when the supremely untalented star of Robbin' Hood of the Old West is murdered during her opening night curtain call.

Web Comics

  • Last Res0rt has a plot centering around a Deadly Game Reality Show of the same name. While most of the comic does center on the show itself as well as the behind-the-scenes details, it will even cut away to various audience members giving their two cents on the plot.

Music Videos

  • The video for "Long Road to Ruin" by Foo Fighters started out like this, split between a stereotypical daytime soap opera called Long Road to Ruin and the lives of the actors therein.

Western Animation