5 TV Series Based on Real Celebrities
Actors playing actors, actors playing themselves—how meta is too meta? We’ve picked five of our favorite true (fictionalized) Hollywood stories, including Peacock’s new Angelyne.
TV series based on the lives of Hollywood celebrities—sometimes even playing themselves—are either black holes of narcissism or just plain fun to watch (or both). In this entertainment age of constantly cranking content, there’s no such thing as “too meta.”
Seinfeld is the undisputed king of this genre, and recent movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (starring Nicholas Cage as “Nick Cage”) just might blow it up entirely. In the meantime, here are five of our favorite shows featuring fictionalized versions of real Hollywood celebrities.
In the pre-internet ’80s, model/actress/singer Angelyne became (locally) famous by emblazoning her scantily clad image on billboards all over Los Angeles. Ever since then, she’s been a celebrity for just being a celebrity, and her semi-fame is about to get some new juice thanks to the miniseries Angelyne (premiering May 19 on Peacock). Angelyne will be played by Emmy Rossum (Shameless), who’s been working on the project for four years. We can’t wait!
Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–present)
There would be no Seinfeld without co-creator Larry David, who based the character of George Constanza on himself. Years later, David went all-in with HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, a funhouse-mirror series about his cantankerous daily life in LA. Over 11 seasons in 22 years, he’s managed to (fictionally?) annoy or be annoyed by almost everyone in Hollywood, including the real-life cast of Seinfeld. It’s hard to believe this show about a TV writer is mostly improvised.
Though not all of its occasionally problematic elements hold up today, HBO series Entourage was absolutely on fire in its early seasons. The show was based on the fledgling acting career of Mark Wahlberg, and frequently satirized Hollywood fame as much as it celebrated it. New Yorker Vinnie (Adrian Grenier) and his hometown buds ride the highs and lows of LA celebrity, and his caustic agent Ari (Jeremy Piven) remains one of the greatest TV characters ever.
His Friends spinoff Joey bombed hard years earlier, but Matt LeBlanc came back in a big way, playing a fictionalized version of himself on SHOWTIME’s Episodes. This LeBlanc is wildly miscast in a Hollywood sitcom created by a British couple (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) who ultimately befriend the charming if arrogant actor. The series pokes fun at LeBlanc’s failures (like referencing his garage full of unsold “Joey” cologne) hilariously.
With exception of WWE wrestler Ivory, none of the women of ’80s wrestling outfit Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling went on to become actual celebrities—but Netflix series GLOW is so good, we couldn’t not include it. The dramatized tale of the groundbreaking all-women TV wrestling show, led by Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron, is a simultaneously funny and tear-jerking celebration of female friendships. Too bad Netflix canceled it after three seasons.