PERFORMING ARTS

The Greatest Cult Television Shows of All Time

Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781538122556. $45. TV
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Olson (100 Greatest Cult Films) and Reinhard (Fractured Fandoms) admit that their 100 selections of the greatest cult television shows is a subjective list, in part because of the malleability of the term cult. This volume compiles series that never found a wide audience (Freaks and Geeks), ended too soon (Sports Night), or possibly ran for too long (The X-Files). What connects them is the passion of their fan base, which kept the shows alive in their followers’ hearts and, occasionally, on the air owing to letter-writing campaigns. The authors present an alphabetic list (Absolutely Fabulous to The Young Ones) of programs, with each entry offering a brief synopsis and information on the cast and crew and production history, as well as commentary and a useful list of similar shows. Even if readers disagree with the authors picking Saved by the Bell and not Firefly or Pushing Daisies, Olson and Reinhard explain their choices, and specific episode references and quotes demonstrate an encyclopedic knowledge of the topic. While the selections lean toward American productions, the authors include British dramas, Canadian sitcoms, and Japanese anime.
VERDICT Olson and Reinhard’s knowledge and enthusiasm come through clearly in this fun (and sometimes frustrating) read. 

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