From Doctor Who to The Office, the Olympics and pop culture go hand-in-hand.
The Olympics are finally here! Currently, the 2016 Summer Olympics are happening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Every two years, countries from around the world gather to compete against one another and show off feats of athletic wonder and prowess. I look forward to and love the Olympics, so I am always sad when they have completed and I am left waiting for the next games. Thankfully, there are many excellent television shows with Olympics-themed episodes to fill the void in my heart in the off-season.
1. “Fear Her” – Doctor Who
Available on Netflix
What It’s About: The TARDIS materializes on the day of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony in a neighborhood that is preparing for the Olympic torch bearer to run through. However, residents are on edge because children have been mysteriously disappearing all week.
Why You Should Watch It: British television sensation Doctor Who actually has a long history with the Olympic Games, which makes sense given that the show is about time travelling. This may not be there series’ best episode, but it is so worth it to watch the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) light the Olympic Flame at the end. In a bit of a real life parallel, Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, actually carried the Olympic torch part of the way.
2. “Boy Meets Curl” – The Simpsons
Available on FXNOW
What It’s About: Homer and Marge Simpson form a curling team with Agnes and Seymour Skinnner to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Meanwhile, Lisa fascination with collecting Olympic mascot pins turns to desperation.
Why You Should Watch It: The attention to accuracy among the scriptwriters is awesome. The writers met with curlers, visited a curling club, and even tried the sport themselves. This episode features a ton of relevant Olympics humor (remember that Vancouver actually had to have snow brought in?) Plus, they pulled Bob Costas out of the cryosleep NBC puts him in between every Olympics.
3. “Believe in the Stars” – 30 Rock
Available on Netflix
What It’s About: While, Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) are fighting over royalties from Tracy’s video game, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) meets Oprah on a plane back from Chicago. Also, Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) is stunned by the revelation that most of the events from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics were staged.
Why You Should Watch It: Forget the Oprah cameo. Forget Liz pretending to be Princess Leia to get out of jury duty. The funniest and most ironic part of this episode is the reveal about the Olympics. According to 30 Rock, NBC faked the events of synchronized running, tetherball, and group tennis so that America could win more medals, morale would increase, and NBC’s ratings would go up. I don’t know about you, but I would love to see Olympic synchronized running.
4. “Office Olympics” – The Office
Available on Netflix
What It’s About: When Michael’s (Steve Carell) away, the Dunder Mifflin employees will play. Michael and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) leave the office to check out the condo Michael is going to buy, so Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) organize an “office Olympics” for all the branch employees to participate in.
Why You Should Watch It: This is one of The Office’s most famous episodes, and for good reason. No matter how many times I watch it, I still laugh out loud at it. It’s the first time some of the supporting characters get a chance to come out of their shells, like Phyllis (Phyllis Smith) who takes home the gold in Flonkerton. It is a truly classic episode of this wonderful show.
5. The entirety of BBC’s Twenty Twelve
Available on YouTube
What It’s About: A mockumentary following the fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission in their organization and management of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Why You Should Watch It: If you are at all like me and love the Olympics and The Office, then this is the show for you. The humor is dryer than a desert and the satire is frequently right on point. There’s a brilliant bit with the committee being rendered completely silent in thinking of a torchbearer who would make them proud to feel British. And, the fact that many of the events of the series are spoofs of real life events that happened in the lead up to the Games just makes it so much better.
6. “All Drug Olympics” Sketch – Saturday Night Live
Available on Hulu
What It’s About: As part of the Weekend Update, 1988 host Kevin Nealon is proud to announce that the first ever all-drug Olympics are happening in Bogota, Colombia. With athletes encouraged to take any and all types of drugs during the Olympics, 115 world records have been broken.
Why You Should Watch It: The timeliness of this sketch could not be better, considering Russia’s doping scandal happening at this current Olympics and the fact that a Russian weightlifter is featured in the sketch. It’s a fun reminder of how tongue-in-cheek SNL can be at points and that some jokes are always going to be funny.
There you go! Five extremely fun episodes of television, plus a bonus sketch from SNL, that are all centered around the Olympics. If you need me, I will be cheering on Team USA and praying for a repeat of Bob Costas’ hilarious case of pink eye at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Happy Olympics, everyone!