Top 10 TV Series With Pop Culture References

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In June of 2008, I wrote a blog post, TV Series With the Most Pop Culture References. Looking at it recently, I realized that it was in need of an update. The use of pop culture references in entertainment, especially on television, has become more popular lately than ever.

Here is my updated list of current or fairly recent television series that employ the use of pop culture references the most. Excluded are talk, news, reality, variety or any series other than standard comedy and drama series.

1. Family Guy – It is doubtful it will ever be dethroned from being number one in pop culture references.

2. Community – New to this list, not only does Community make great pop culture references throughout each episode, but often entire episodes are one big pop culture reference. See Community on NBC – Must Watch TV Comedy, with a link to a slideshow of best season one pop culture references.

3. Lost – Lost used pop culture references in a very unique way, not just as jokes as most TV series do. Very often the references came in the form of props, such as books or in character’s names. When they came in spoken lines, they could be funny, scary or usually meaningful. Hours were spent online by fans trying to dissect most of the references.

4. 30 Rock – All types of pop culture references are made on 30 Rock, not only relating to entertainment. Many references are to politics, business and especially, NBC, GE and recently Comcast.

5. The Simpsons – The pop culture references in The Simpons cover a wide spectrum of society so that viewers from all generations can enjoy the show, my husband and I often watched with our teens.These references often come from movies, television, music, literature, science, and history.

6. Glee – The pop culture references used in Glee come mostly in the form of celebrity names, with other entertainment references sprinkled in.
7. Gilmore Girls – Gilmore Girls is known for numerous popular culture references made by the characters, mostly Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. The references, which may point to anything from movies, television shows, music and books to quotes from celebrities, are frequently quite obscure. I once read that the actresses often didn’t understand the references they were quoting.

8. South Park – Whether considered more parody or reference, South Park’s use of pop culture is what made it the hit it is.

9. The O.C. – One of the reasons The O.C. gained a cult following was the flow of references to music, movies and comic books below the mainstream cultural radar, mainly coming from the character Seth Cohen. The creator, Josh Schwartz, input his likes and mindset, into the character of Seth.

10. Chuck – The pop culture references in Chuck are often more subtle. Many are visual, such as the posters on the walls of Chucks room and many lines or names are from movies but can be easily missed if not paying careful attention.

Runners Up

  1. The Office
  2. Gossip Girl
  3. Scrubs
  4. Will and Grace
  5. Friends

Do you agree with my list. Did I leave out any television shows that use pop culture references more often than those listed above?

See also:
The Top 50 Most Discussed TV Shows
Harry Potter and Simpsons Universal Park Pictures

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