Hollywood bigwigs make it sound so dirty, but is being labeled a “cult hit” in the television and movie industry really all that bad? No in the slightest. In fact, productions who get branded with the title should feel honored.
Sure, the actors stand more of a chance of winning the lottery than they do at getting nominated for an Emmy Award and the show itself will never reach the kind of viewership that the highly anticipated and much praised entertainment goliaths receive. But, if the cards are played right, cult hits will stick around for years after their supposed expiration date. Take one of television’s most noticeable shows to ever be labeled cult: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The loveable vampire slayer/cheerleader, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, won over the hearts of many during her seven-season run on The WB (later bought by UPN). And when it was announced that Buffy was going to be shoving her stake through the last vampire’s heart, many fans felt the sting. But what was supposed to be the ending to a fairly popular cult hit turned into fan madness, sparking comic books, fanart and fiction, reunions (both of the cast and fan varieties) and continued television marathons after almost ten years of being off the air.
That’s the kind of rabid adoration cult television gets. Not to mention its spin-off, Angel, which lasted a respectable five years and gave television more of the wonderfully delectable David Boreanaz. So how is that a bad thing?
It’s not. And fans of these shows recognize and understand just how awesome creations like Buffy, as well as others like Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and the great and powerful Star Trek: The Next Generation really are in the grand scheme of things. They’ll fight tooth and nail to win online polls for their cult favorites, attend conventions and create wonderful costumes that mirror their favorite characters. Add all that to the fact that if you ask, for example, a fan of Supernatural what Dean Winchester’s shoe size is, he or she probably won’t even hesitate before giving you an answer. They know these shows like they know themselves.
And the real kicker is that networks know this too. But not many network presidents want to admit that the little show about vampires or space adventures is more popular than their medical drama or the actor being paid ridiculous amounts of money per episode. But they still need Cult TV to make things run, because it’s those shows that are going to live long past the networks or the 4 million viewers per episode. And it’s those shows that are going to keep viewers coming back for more.