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Cult Series > What makes it a Cult Show?

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message 1: by Kellyflower (last edited Sep 08, 2012 08:59AM) (new)

Kellyflower | 128 comments I've asked myself this question lots of times so I've decided to give everyone the information I've found on the internet.

"How do you know when a TV show has become a cult phenomenon? When its (often comparatively small) ratings are eclipsed by the wild ardor of its fans." - Popwatch

*"cult shows" meaning that they got obsessive followers and fans -Shareranks

*A cult show is a show with a small but dedicated audience.

*Actor Bruce Campbell once contrasted "mainstream films" and "cult films" by defining the former as "a film that 1,000 people watch 100 times" and the latter as "a film that 100 people watch 1,000 times". - Wikipedia

*"TV series that develop cult followings are known for their magnetic characters, pithy dialogue, and complex plots that interweave of the course of several episodes or seasons. The best cult TV fan bases are passionate and may feel deeply attached to the cult characters, their lives, and their relationships. Many devoted fan communities take to online message boards, writing fan-fiction, and attending conventions dressed as their favorite characters.
Long-running mainstream series such as "The Twilight Zone," "Lost," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" easily attracted loyal fanbases, but even more impressive are those beloved shows that only lasted a season or two, like "Freaks and Geeks" and "Firefly." Even after their favorite shows go off the air, cult fans continue to collect memorabilia, replica props, and do cosplay at fan events. This subcultural phenomenon spans genres from sci-fi cult shows to fantasy, drama, and even comedy cult series."
- Ranker.com

From Terry Pratchett site:
"Cultographies wrote:
A cult film is characterized by its active and lively communal following.
Highly committed and rebellious in their appreciation, cult audiences are frequently at odds with cultural conventions – they prefer strange topics and allegorical themes that rub against cultural sensitivities and resist dominant politics.
Cult films transgress common notions of good and bad taste, and they challenge genre conventions and coherent storytelling.
Among the techniques cult films use are intertextual references, gore, loose ends in storylines, or the creation of a sense of nostalgia.
Often, cult films have troublesome production histories, coloured by accidents, failures, legends and mysteries that involve their stars and directors.
In spite of often-limited accessibility, they have a continuous market value and a long-lasting public presence."

Read more Here


Splashpage also has a good article on "Cult Tv Show that you can read HERE

Here's a few links to Best Cult Tv Shows:
Cult TV.net

25 Best Cult TV Shows From The Past 25 Years (EW)

TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever


Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4731 comments Mod
Fantastic lists, Kellyflower!

Another thing, I think, about Cult shows, is that they're always so imaginative, so very different than regular mainstream programs. And that's why I love 'em.


Mark Burns (TheFailedPhilosopher) | 40 comments Why is Fawlty Towers on that first list? It is not only a few episodes because it was not mainstream nut simply because that amount was considered enough by Cleese and his wife. That's not a show that got popularity despite being short-lived and only seen by few but one that was seen by many, was popular and was short-lived by choice.


Kellyflower | 128 comments Mark,
I wonder when it's a British show and it ends up having a huge following in the U.S. and else where if that makes it a cult show. The popularity of it in it's original country not being taken into consideration.


message 5: by Jackie (last edited Sep 08, 2012 08:06AM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4731 comments Mod
Mark, it wasn't that Cleese and Booth considered twelve episodes 'enough', they were divorced after the first season, Booth didn't even want to do the second season. Cleese even had an idea for a special but it never materialized. Booth wanted no part of it. That's why there wasn't any more episodes. And it's a cult show because being 'seen by many' came later. Read on:

"The series was not held in as high esteem on its original broadcast as it later was. The Daily Mirror review of the show in 1975 had the headline "Long John Short On Jokes". Eventually though, as the series began to gain popularity, critical acclaim soon followed. "(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fawlty_T...)
If that isn't a Cult show, then I don't know what is.
It's not necessarily all about the numbers, it's more about the fans and the passion they feel for the show. The numbers come later for most cult shows anyway, because of the fans and word of mouth, even after the show is no longer on the air.

If we're gonna pick apart the list, then what about Lost? It seems anti-cult to me; started out with lots of support and devoted fans, and by the end it sucked and lost a lot of viewers, lol

Kelly, you make a very good point to add to why FT is a cult show. That's part of why Doctor Who is a cult show; it's always been popular in the UK and it's gained a huge following here in the US.


Kellyflower | 128 comments Some more talk on the internet about cult shows :

From Terry Pratchett site:
"Cultographies wrote:
A cult film is characterized by its active and lively communal following.

Highly committed and rebellious in their appreciation, cult audiences are frequently at odds with cultural conventions – they prefer strange topics and allegorical themes that rub against cultural sensitivities and resist dominant politics.

Cult films transgress common notions of good and bad taste, and they challenge genre conventions and coherent storytelling.

Among the techniques cult films use are intertextual references, gore, loose ends in storylines, or the creation of a sense of nostalgia.

Often, cult films have troublesome production histories, coloured by accidents, failures, legends and mysteries that involve their stars and directors.

In spite of often-limited accessibility, they have a continuous market value and a long-lasting public presence."


*I may add this in my first post.


Kellyflower | 128 comments I also think some shows start off being somewhat cult, put then they get so much attention they switch over to be "popular".
So I wonder if a cult show can really be a cult show until after it ends.


message 8: by Kellyflower (last edited Sep 08, 2012 09:03AM) (new)

Kellyflower | 128 comments Oh there forum has a lot of talk about cult shows. Here's someone's list on what makes it cult:
"here's Raisindot's definition of a cult film/TV series.

1. When originally released, the thing never made any money or was widely seen by the population at large. Popularity for it grew mainly through word of mouth.

2. At the showing of these things, either in public or in private homes, people often dress up as characters and act out scenes.

3. Being part of the cult creates an aura of cultural elitism--only someone with your superior intellect can fully appreciate something the unwashed public is too stupid to recognize.

4. The 'audience theater' zeitgist that surrounds the showing of the show/film eventually becomes more important than the actual film/show itself (i.e., Rocky Horror)

5. The more the movie/show is derided, criticized, and ridiculed by the mainstream, the stronger its fans circle the wagons to defend it.

6. Quite often, seeing a cult film/show is a matter of cognitive dissonance; you consciously know that what you're witnessing is a piece of sh** that by any normal standard would long ago have been relegated to the ash heap of history (i.e., Ed Wood films), but it's essentially their innate badness that makes it 'good.'

7. It's nearly impossible to convince large numbers of 'mainstream' people why a cult movie/show is worth paying attention to (that's why Star Trek and Monty Python are no longer cult shows/films; they mainstreamed long ago)

8. A true cult show/film has staying power; those that don't simply revert to being bad films or shows (are there truly any large contingents of fans of Harold and Maude, Eraserhead, or Roger Corman movies anymore?)

9. All legitimate film/show cults meet Kurt Vonnegut's definitions of wampeters and granfoolens.

10. The cult shows/films you adore are unfairly maligned classics; the cult shows/films OTHER people adore are useless wastes of time."

Original post Here


Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4731 comments Mod
I'm definitely guilty of #3, lol

So while we're talking about films, some of Kurt Russell movies, like "Escape From NY", "The Thing" and "Big Trouble in Little China" all fit in the bad movie category but friggin fantastic nonetheless.


Mark Burns (TheFailedPhilosopher) | 40 comments Jackie wrote: "Mark, it wasn't that Cleese and Booth considered twelve episodes 'enough', they were divorced after the first season, Booth didn't even want to do the second season. Cleese even had an idea for a ..."

Apologies but that is the way he tells it now. She doesn't even comment.


Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4731 comments Mod
Funny how stories change, my sister and mother are notorious for rewriting history too. From what I've read, Booth retired from public life right after the second season.


Kellyflower | 128 comments Here's what I think of when I hear Cult show.
You mention your watching it and the person your talking to does that look like they don't know what the heck your talking about then says "I've never heard of it"
you then tell a small description of it and they reply "Oh, yeah I did hear something about that, is that still on?" then they move away from you like your the plague.


Kellyflower | 128 comments These Raisindot's definition made me laugh & made sense to me:
1. When originally released, the thing never made any money or was widely seen by the population at large. Popularity for it grew mainly through word of mouth.

3. Being part of the cult creates an aura of cultural elitism--only someone with your superior intellect can fully appreciate something the unwashed public is too stupid to recognize.

5. The more the movie/show is derided, criticized, and ridiculed by the mainstream, the stronger its fans circle the wagons to defend it.
- I'm super guilty of this!

6. Quite often, seeing a cult film/show is a matter of cognitive dissonance; you consciously know that what you're witnessing is a piece of sh** that by any normal standard would long ago have been relegated to the ash heap of history (i.e., Ed Wood films), but it's essentially their innate badness that makes it 'good.'
This is exactly how to describe my new obsession with Farscape...



message 14: by Jackie (last edited Sep 08, 2012 04:15PM) (new)

Jackie (thelastwolf) | 4731 comments Mod
This is one I'm guilty of sometimes:
10. The cult shows/films you adore are unfairly maligned classics; the cult shows/films OTHER people adore are useless wastes of time."


Ronyell (Rabbitearsblog) | 13 comments Jackie wrote: "Fantastic lists, Kellyflower!

Another thing, I think, about Cult shows, is that they're always so imaginative, so very different than regular mainstream programs. And that's why I love 'em."


I definitely agree with this! Shows like Invader Zim and Firefly are considered cult shows since they may have ran a short time on TV, but they are well loved by the fans.


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