2016 is the year the premise of the cult TV show is officially making a comeback. While many television series might have a significant number of fans, cult TV shows have devoted followers who go beyond the realms of binge-watching; we’re talking fandoms, special festivals anchored around a particular cast of characters and endless talk about plotlines, 25 years on. A cult show generally has a short lifespan of only a few seasons before reaching an untimely end, but so iconic were the sets, costumes and mysterious plotlines that they quickly amassed followers of thousands. Yes, these fans ensure real life goes on hold once their show starts to air and happily, the next 18 months will see several major cult shows hit our small screens again from Twin Peaks to Gilmore Girls. Let the hysteria commence, and while you wait, ready yourself by rooting out any of these five box sets and bask in the thrill of them all:
THE GILMORE GIRLS
The popular show won legions of fans more than a decade ago depicting the exploits of a thirty-something mother and her teenage daughter. The best news? Pretty much all of the original cast are set to return. This isn’t some cheap attempt at a series make-over, oh no. This is the real deal. This means Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel, who played her daughter Rory – will definitely be back. As will actors Scott Patterson (Luke), Kelly Bishop (Emily), Sean Gunn (Kirk) and Keiko Agena (Lane). The show aired 150 episodes from 2000 to 2007 and has since achieved cult status and a legion of fans, still having conversations about Rory’s complicated love live and all the rest. We’re expecting the revived episodes to be of a similar calibre to the original, as series creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino will oversee the new programme. The new series will reportedly be in a miniseries format, with four 90-minute shows at least.
The plot centres on a team of advertising executives—led by the brilliant but enigmatic Don Draper (Jon Hamm)— who struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing world of the 1960s. Since its end, it has garnered a level of adulation that raised it from a hit to a cultural icon. Among various books, blogs, apps and cocktails, the show inspired a revival in vintage fashion, even spawning its own capsule collection at US store Banana Republic, with suits and dresses inspired by the wardrobes of the show’s main characters. Back in July 2010, 7,000 fans flocked to Times Square in Manhattan to attend the fourth-season premiere party – most of them in period costume – hosted by stars January Jones and Elizabeth Moss and thus heralded a new era; fans no longer lock themselves away to watch a series solo, as conventions (think a minor version of Comic Con) have ensured that people can come together in a unique way to remember their beloved shows.
Back when it first aired back in 1990, Twin Peaks was all you talked about. It set the bar for the decades of TV that was to follow, yet there has never been a series quite like it. The show centred around the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (it was this show that spawned the ‘whodunnit’ concept) and the lives of the inhabitants of a fictional Washington lumber town. It had devoted newsgroups and fanzines buzzing with questions. It had intrigue, logs, a couple we were desperate to see get together and it kept us guessing at every turn; a mystery that never quite unfolded as you thought it would. Even when we found out who killed Laura Palmer, Twin Peaks lingered on thanks to its cliffhanger ending. But it is happening again and the series will be continued with a third season in 2017.
The show explores the lives of a group of people who fought on the losing side of a civil war and others who now make a living on the fringe of society, as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the edges of their star system. Firefly only aired for 14 episodes before it was cancelled, but over ten years later fans still are loyal to the point where there was even a 10th-anniversary panel at New York Comic Con in October 2012 for the short-lived show. Creator Joss Whedon’s cast teamed with instantly relatable characters; a story pulsed with intrigue, and memorable dialogue ensured it reached cult status soon after it was cancelled. Fans today are still hoping for a televised revival, but it lives on thanks to a comic series. A show you may be inclined to skip, but seriously, don’t do it. It didn’t make as much noise as our other listed contenders, but it’s brilliant.
The show centred on the lives and relationships of 30-somethings in Manchester and was remade in over 30 countries around the world following its mega-success. The show ran for five series from 1998 to 2003, drawing in an audience of over 10 million for the season finale. The reason behind the revival came from the ITV network bosses failing to find another British show that captured the warmth and complexities of friendships as well as Cold Feet did. Friends was likely the closest US equivalent, but it is certainly fair to say that almost nothing after it garnered as much universal popularity. It’s due to hit our screens again this year, and we can’t wait.
What is your favourite cult TV show?