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The Essential Cult TV Reader is a collection of insightful essays that examine television shows that amass engaged, active fan bases by employing an imaginative approach to programming. Once defined by limited viewership, cult TV has developed its own identity, with some shows gaining large, mainstream audiences. By exploring the defining characteristics of cult TV, The Essential Cult TV Reader traces the development of this once obscure form and explains how cult TV achieved its current status as legitimate television.

The essays explore a wide range of cult programs, from early shows such as Star Trek, The Avengers, Dark Shadows, and The Twilight Zone to popular contemporary shows such as Lost, Dexter, and 24, addressing the cultural context that allowed the development of the phenomenon. The contributors investigate the obligations of cult series to their fans, the relationship of camp and cult, the effects of DVD releases and the Internet, and the globalization of cult TV. The Essential Cult TV Reader answers many of the questions surrounding the form while revealing emerging debates on its future.

David Lavery, professor of English at Middle Tennessee State University, is the founding editor of Critical Studies in Television: Scholarly Studies of Small Screen Fictions.

“An engaging, in-depth look at the often-slippery category of cult programming and is the perfect starting point for further studies on the subject.”—Studies In American Culture

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Television series, Cult TV, Television viewers, Popular culture


American Popular Culture

The Essential Cult TV Reader
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