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I was watching an episode of Bob's Burgers where the characters recite stories that are largely unrelated to the actual plot of the episode, while the stories themselves are the actual content of the episode.

More specifically, one of the show's supporting characters, Gayle, wants to attend a social event and holds a contest to determine who can attend the event with her. Three of the main characters all draft their own wildly different stories to recite to Gayle, and the author of best story written gets her extra event ticket. The rest of the episode is spent depicting the stories the characters wrote.

I've heard TV shows in this style referred to as episodic shows, where the setting between each of the show's episodes is wholly unrelated to the previous episode. But in this instance describing a single episode as episodic doesn't seem like the correct verbiage.

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These can be referred to as anthology episodes, in which the episode consists of several shorter, potentially unrelated stories. The stories are often connected by an overarching plot, setting, or theme, but there may be no in-universe reason why the stories are connected. Probably the most common structure is to tell 3 stories separated by 2 commercial breaks, but the format may differ.

Here's a link to the term "in the wild", listing episodes of The Simpsons which fit this format: Simpsons Anthology Episodes

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  • Even if the inner stories ARE completely unrelated, they are still connected by the overarching plot point of who gets Gayle's extra ticket.
    – CGCampbell
    Sep 2 at 16:06

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