Cult television

From Academic Kids

Cult television, like cult figures, cult film and cult radio, attracts a band of aficionados devoted to a specific television program or unreal universe.

What exactly makes something "cult" is widely debated. Some popular and strongly interconnected definitions are:

1. A genre, covering all programs that play with widely held beliefs and perceptions. This covers most programs in genres like science fiction, fantasy, horror and some forms of comedy (especially most forms of British comedy). Most adult animation programs (like much anime) are included. Such programs are generally much more popular with men than women. Those with autistic spectrum, geek or religious personality traits tend to be particularly attracted to them. See psychographics.

2. Any program that has a strong loyal audience that thinks a lot about the show, especially the world in which it is set. Such programs generally have a much higher than average level of intensity. Most such shows are of the "cult" genre. This interest and support by fans is seen by some as being similar to religions and cults, hence the term. The most loyal fans often have autistic spectrum, geek or religious personality traits.

3. Any program that has achieved a moderate level of popularity, but not a large one. This is what is usually ment when a program is said to have "reached cult status." Even if a group of people agree on this definition of "cult status", arguments on a show's status of this type are common as the "moderate" band has two highly subjective borders.

4. Any unpopular or obscure program. This definition encompasses the third one, but also includes shows with only a small level of popularity. This definition is also used by those confering "cult status". It is easier to reach consensus on than the other because only one subjective boundary is involved.

Obscurity often makes programs more popular with intense fans. Many shows that some people found strongly compelling were not hits in their original runs, and quite a few well-loved shows had only a season (or less) worth of material.

Recent Developments

Since the late 1990s, cult shows have increasingly been available on DVD, leading to many formerly niche programs (such as Family Guy and Freaks and Geeks) becoming popular as new people discover them. Cartoon Network's adult oriented "Adult Swim" progamming block shows cult television quite often. Before the DVD and internet file sharing, cult shows were often much harder to obtain and spread. Success in syndication and DVD sales even influenced Fox to bring back Family Guy, a rare phenomenon in television.

The internet has also been instrumental in growing TV series cults through inter-fan communication. Previously, a cult required enough people to support local clubs, conventions and book publishing to raise fan communications beyond the monthly newsletter level. Now many intense fans communicate daily with others about the programs they are fans of, and can access vast stores of information on websites. Even if there are only a few dozen people worldwide interested in a program.

The internet is also increasingly a platform for publishing cult shows. Programs like Happy Tree Friends and Queer Duck both went from online hobbies to broadcast cult TV. Others like Homestar Runner are immensely popular without any traditional TV presence.

List of cult programs

A list of programs that achieved cult television status might include:

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