The topic of cult TV shows is one that is never ending and hotly debated by people of all ages and demographics. Whether you like a really good oldie or maybe you just can’t see any cult following that’s greater than Doctor Who, anyone who has at least one television obsession will know at least a bit about the culture. Instead of trying to tell you which ones are best or to just wade into the dangerous, contested discussion, I’m going to lay out a few new (and old) cult television programs that you may not have heard of, or at least popular shows that are borderline becoming so popular that they deserve a new cult status.
1. Black Books
This is one that might qualify as an ‘oldie but a goodie’. Black Books aired in 2000 and ended its run in 2004, but still gets viewed by millions of people every year thanks to its devoted fans. It’s followers go crazy for witty and dry antics of it’s few main characters and the writers manage to develop so much within the confines of a failing bookshop run by a slightly delusional man. Black Books’ intense following and adoration even a decade later is what clinches its spot on this list, and even though it could be considered too mainstream to be a cult pick, it’s fans can get pretty in depth and obsessive about the show and give it its deserved title of cult.
2. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
Probably the most stereotypically cult-y television programme on this list. This is a horror, sci-fi parody that aired on Channel 4 for just six half an hour episodes in 2004. It features two stars from The IT Crowd (Richard Ayoade/Moss, Matt Berry/Douglass) and is expectedly weird. You can find all of the episodes on YouTube and is a genuinely laugh out loud funny way of getting your dark, cult fix for the day. Be warned though, it is a truly weird experience to watch and for many, the satire and parody might be lost upon a first viewing.
3. House of Cards
This is a hybrid pick switching us over from our old cult to our new. So we’ll split it into two parts, for those who want nostalgia and those who want cutting edge cult:
UK: With the new is the original House of Cards, a political drama instead based in the UK that is the less popular of the two and is given unjustified hate from Netflix/American House of Cards fans. The UK one can be darker and scarier (and easier to watch, only three episodes in all) which gives it an edgier upper hand.
US: …but, if you can’t get enough of Kevin Spacey or the hilarity of American politics, the newer HoC might be the cult show for you. Still pretty dark, but with a southern twang, Spacey’s portrayal of Frank Underwood is so charming, enticing and somehow believable that even those of you who roll their eyes at their politics-obsessed friends will be instantly hooked by the thrill of it. Unlike the UK series, this one has two full seasons on Netflix with almost thirty hour-long episodes, so this one is for those of you looking to really sink your teeth into a new, ongoing obsession.
Kicking off our properly new choices is the indie hit, Girls, which features four extremely flawed women living in New York City trying to sort their lives out as twentysomethings living in the millennial age. The thing that makes Girls a proper cult show is the insane following that it’s developed and all of the controversy that surrounds it. You’ll have diehard fans who would fight to the death defending a theory they have about a character, and the subreddits about the show are filled endlessly with theories, arguments, and general hate/love for frontwoman, creator and head writer of the show Lena Dunham.
5. Made In Chelsea
Now, I know most of you are rolling your eyes and/or throwing away this article on seeing this as the final cult TV pick on this list. But it is hard to deny that this airhead-filled, hyper-staged ‘reality show’ doesn’t have an intense cult following that has mass groups of people salivating for each new episode. If you’re looking to be confused by bad acting under the guise of reality and want to go on the Internet for classic cult conspiracies, Made in Chelsea is surprisingly the show to get into.
Mainstream programs can often be an easy comfort on a cold dreary day stuck in the library or as a nice distraction from the sub zero temperatures of a single-glazed student flat. But I would implore you to try these sort of hybrid mainstream/hipster picks that truly deserve to gain cult status in the TV realm and deserve your viewing (and maybe even your obsession).