Years of English classes have probably made you pretty well acquainted with William Shakespeare. The literary genius somehow seemed to surface on every syllabus, every year, without fail. Whether you liked his works or not, the guy made some pretty solid points.
I mean, death is better than forbidden love, right? Remember, his stories of ghostly dads and teenage love weren’t just created to boggle the minds of high school freshmen. People actually went to see his plays performed on stage back in the day. While an afternoon of “fun” at the theater may seem a bit outdated to some, his themes still creep up in pop culture. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these TV shows that could’ve been Shakespearean plays:
Shakespearean drama is all about layers of subtle irony, and nothing screams “messed up” like a man having to make and sell meth to pay for his cancer treatments. This and the sheer number of conflicts faced by Walter White and his kin would make even dear old William Shakespeare proud. Between Walt’s struggling marriage, his run-ins with drug lords and the constantly developing dynamic between him and his would-be protégé Jesse, there’s enough to write more than a few essays. It’s definitely more entertaining than Merchant of Venice, at least.
‘How I Met Your Mother’
This show could have been a Shakespearean success. Just think about it: Ted would have a bunch of really long asides, and the audience would be like his future kids. Shakespeare was all about those unsatisfying endings (i.e., everyone always dies) and no one was too happy with the way How I Met Your Mother ended … but we won’t spoil it for you. Not to mention, Jason Segal and Neil Patrick Harris make How I Met Your Mother hilarious, and Shakespeare had a few comedies, whether you laughed or not while reading them in high school.
‘Saturday Night Live’
Shakespeare has an odd tendency to have characters watch plays while they’re in a play. Or, he bumps up the confusion level a bit further by having his characters perform in a play, in a play. Follow me? I’m sure Shakespeare’s use of metafiction reveals some profound revelations about society, but right now let’s just consider it a pattern of his. You know what other show has this pattern? Saturday Night Live, of course. Not only is SNL pretty much a play watched by millions of people on TV, but it also revels in its own satirical truths. Thank you, Weekend Update.
Next time you see Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare on your school syllabus, just watch one of these shows instead. We can’t guarantee you’ll get an A, but at least you’ll be far more entertained.