Week Five & Six: Cult Television

What role does Hills (2004) suggest fans play in the construction of cult TV? How is new media now central to this? Discuss with examples.

Cult Television, by definition, is backed by a large fan-following. This fan-following grants the series with a consistent audience  – repeat customers – which helps with the show’s success. However, as the fans of the show (the viewers) hold such power over the show’s  financial success, it can be important for the developers of the show to engage with and take ques from the fan-audience to ensure that they remand pleased with the direction of the show and as such, continue watching.

Hills (2004) states that “cult status arises, ultimately, from an audiences passion for a TV show.” Here, Hills relays that Cult Television Shows are only defined as cult television because of the intense fan-following the series receives – like previously discussed. Such fans, can be classified as ‘hardcore’ as they are often avid defenders for their show, and lash out at those who might offer negative criticism on the show for whatever reason. Unlike regular television water, these fans are actively engaged with the who’s content and may post online or discuss with their friends (likely other fans also) as to the latest episode’s content. Hills (2004) mentions that “This creates a communal fan distinctiveness”, suggesting that the interaction between fans and their fellow show-watchers creates a relationship or bond, which only strengthens their ties to the show. Sometimes, dedicated fans of a show will write their own ‘fan fiction’ consisting of their own interpretation or expectations of the show’s narrative – this is also sometimes expressed in artwork (ie. drawings). It’s this practice which gives the producers a clearer understanding of the viewer’s expectations or wants out of a show.


Hills, M. (2004). Defining cult TV; Texts, inter-texts and fan audiences, in R. C. Allen & A. Hill (eds) The Television Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge.


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