A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cult is a multidimensional action/thriller that's at times eerie, suspenseful, and violent. People are kidnapped, tortured (a man is plastered into a wall, and a boy is locked in a small box, for instance), murdered (though the act usually isn't shown), and pushed to suicide. The story is driven by characters' mysterious disappearances that draw their family members into the fold of a secretive fan base of a TV show-within-a-show, all of which intentionally blurs the line between fantasy and reality, plays up the characters' shifting loyalties and many deceptions, and requires a sturdy disposition to watch.
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What's the story?
Investigative reporter Jeff Sefton (Matt Davis) is no stranger to the odd whims of his younger brother, Nate, but when Nate goes missing shortly after a seeming paranoid frenzy over his own safety, Jeff decides to look into his brother's obsession with a cryptic TV show called CULT. The series centers on the contentious exchanges between cult leader Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper) and his ex-follower-turned-cop, Kelly Collins (Alona Tal), who's back on the compound looking for answers in her sister's disappearance. As Billy and Kelly face off onscreen, Jeff starts to notice eerie similarities between the show's plot and the clues he uncovers about his brother's movements just before he fell off the grid. With everyone starting to look suspect, Jeff turns to Skye Yarrow (Jessica Lucas), a savvy researcher from the "Cult" set who has her own motivations for uncovering the truth behind the show's creator and the far-reaching impact it has on its fan base.
Is it any good?
In a nutshell, Cult is a TV series about a TV series called "Cult," whose opposing main characters are a sinister cult leader and his former lover who's now out to prove he's a fraud and a murderer, all of which is being consumed by a host of emotionally invested fans who appear to act on their obsessions in the real world. If that's not confusing enough for you, the actors who play the aforementioned cult leader and his female antithesis on the secondary series also show up in Jeff's universe as their "real-life" personas (Roger Reeves and Marti Gerritsen, respectively) and eventually discover that their involvement in the show brings unwanted -- and, at times, dangerous -- attention from those same obsessed fans. Add to this a "real-life" cop with questionable loyalties who's handling Nate's unsolved case, sinister strangers lurking at every turn, and a reclusive show creator who might hold all the answers for Jeff and Skye, and Cult has the makings of a smart, complex thriller.
In an era of entertainment that draws viewers into the fold like never before (take the fans' role in reality contests, for instance), Cult raises some intriguing points about where the line is drawn between reality and make-believe, and the power of the media's influence on impressionable fans. Sturdy teens are best suited to handle the suspenseful, violent content in this scintillating series, and to dig deeper for some applications to the messages we absorb from media. Of course, this is best done with help from you, so settle in with your teens for some thrills and chills at the hands of this crafty, puzzling drama.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about good and evil. If this show is to be believed, is it easy to identify people's true intentions? What kinds of influences determine a person's definition of "good" and "bad"?
Violence in entertainment is a hot-button issue. Do you think what we see on TV or in video games affects our tolerance of real-world violence? What other factors play a role?
A strong theme in this series is the concept that ideas are a powerful weapon. What instances can you name of mislaid ideas leading someone to inflict harm?
Teens and parents will have fun piecing together the clues in this series to try to solve the mystery. Is the idea that the fans on the show are easily obsessed far off base? Could this phenomenon happen in the real world?
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Themes & Topics
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