What happens when a rabid, obsessed fandom crosses the line between the imagined and reality? We’ll get to see in three weeks when the buzzed-about meta series Cult debuts on The CW. The pilot episode introduces us to journalist Jeff (Matt Davis from the Vampire Diaries) searching for his brother whose disappearance may be linked to the fans of a TV series called Cult recreating what they’ve seen on the show. Jeff enlists the help of production assistant Skye (Jessica Lucas) from the show-within-a-show to examine the dark influence of its cult leader character Billy (Robert Knepper) on the fans and how the show-within-a-show’s creator might be purposefully manipulating them. The next twelve episodes track the fan reaction to twelve episodes of the show-within-a-show, culminating in season finales for both.
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[Update: A new promo asks What is Real? One is TV. One is Reality. As it cuts back and forth between scenes from the show-within-a-show and “reality”. Cult filmed the scene of car vs train on railroad tracks in Langley and caused traffic gridlock on a Friday afternoon as drivers slowed down to stare.]
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Showrunner Rockne O’Bannon of Farscape fame told the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press tour that Cult puts a magnifying glass on the potential dangers of a passionate fan base of a dark show. Executive producer Josh Swartz elaborated, saying today’s fans feel like they have an emotional ownership of their show and get so much more access to the people who create, write and star in it that they “may feel they control that conversation as well. And when things don’t go the way they have tweeted, there’s a certain level of animosity that can start to grow.”
FBI agents pop the trunk of the iconic red car from the show-within-a-show (Alona Tal filming at the Vancouver Art Gallery).
Jeff (Matt Davis) and Skye (Jessica Lucas) investigate fans recreating an event from the show-within-a-show.
Cult debuts Tuesday, March 19th on The CW and all thirteen episodes of the first season will run without interruption.