Premiering on February 19, the new CW drama Cult follows an investigative journalist as he explores the dark underbelly of a television series and its obsessive fanbase following the mysterious disappearance of his brother.
While it's a unique idea for a TV show, some critics have questioned if fans might take the concept a bit personally. In response, executive producer and showrunner Rockne S. O'Bannon acknowledged that the production team was aware of the potential issue, "but unlike other shows, we have the advantage of putting a magnifying glass on that idea itself," he reasoned.
Executive producer Josh Schwartz suggested that the emotional involvement of viewers is more pronounced today because of the greater access that fans have to the creative teams behind their favorite shows. "They may feel they control that conversation as well," he explained. "And when things don't go the way they have tweeted, there's a certain level of animosity that can start to grow."
O'Bannon came up with the idea for Cult while working on the science fiction series Farscape, which he co-created with Brian Henson. Ranked #22 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 25 Best Cult TV Shows in the Past 25 Years, Farscape ran from 1999 until 2003 and inspired a passionate and devoted fanbase. "It started me to thinking, what if the show were to have a little bit darker edge?" pondered O'Bannon. "What sort of fans would it then draw? Then add that with the ability of fans to connect through social media."
However, the CW has no crisis plan in place in case fans of the new series are inspired to imitate what they see on screen, and O'Bannon isn't worried about it. "I don't know that our show has quite that much power," he said. O'Bannon added that to honor the show's serialized presentation, Cult will air for 13 consecutive weeks uninterrupted by reruns.
This seems like a brilliant idea for a series if it's executed properly. People take their shows more personally than ever before, and this show appears to examine what would happen if rabid fans went a few steps further. What do you think?