We see so many lists all over the web and in magazines, you can’t help but wonder if people will eventually run out of list ideas. Then again, it’s hard to make a comprehensive list of best this, best that, or even worst lists, as you’re always going to leave something out, especially when you’re dealing with “cult” or obscure items.
At least I thought “cult” usually meant below the radar that a handful of rabid fans knew about, but interestingly enough, Entertainment Weekly put up a list of 26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever, but most of these shows are pretty big shows, certainly not what I would consider “cult” like I would consider Kolchak or The Prisoner cult. So what makes the list?
Again, I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a big show, which made the list, along with Doctor Who, which I think we can call a cult show in all of its incarnations, because it’s known to genre fans, but it’s not so much a household name like Buffy or Battlestar Galactica. Of course, I also didn’t realize until reading this list that Doctor Who’s pushing fifty years old, but I can see that because I remember seeing it on TV since I was a little kid.
Another big series on the list is The X-Files, which was a genre show that crossed over to many different audiences, even though, yes indeed, as EW writes, “The X-Files was a paean to oddballs, sci-fi fans, conspiracy theorists, and Area 51 pilgrims everywhere… Mulder and Scully’s believer-versus-skeptic dynamic created a TV template that’s still in heavy use today.”
As with Star Trek: The Next Generation, EW notes that Star Trek was of course “cult TV before cult TV was even a thing,” and it may not have crossed over like Buffy or the X-Files, where the new JJ Abrams Star Trek has been popular for fans everywhere. Okay, now Firefly of course is a cult show to this day because it’s never broken through to a bigger audience, but the following that’s built around it is still very strong.
With Firefly, there’s the “secret handshake” of being a browncoat, where with Galactica we of course have “frakkin,” and with Farscape there’s the code word of “frelling.” Yes, there’s definitely cult elements, but again, many of these shows have gone beyond what I’d consider “cult” status. Lost is on the list too, and again, big show, ya know?
Yet I’m also curious how many of these shows will live on in the future. There will always be a strong army of Trekkies, there’s even fans of the original Battlestar Galactica, and it seems the Firefly cult is growing stronger every day. But I’m not sure how strong the memories are these days for X-Files and Twin Peaks, just to name two examples, and what will be rediscovered by future generations down the road. Like the saying goes, only history can judge history, and just like with a movie getting rediscovered down the road, time can be a TV show’s best friend too.