Be Selling You: The Prisoner as Cult and Commodity

Author(s): Erin Hanna

Hanna Television & New Media


Known for its sophistication, enigmatic narrative, and small but voracious fan base, the British series The Prisoner is an enduring example of cult television. However, its import to American television beginning in 1968 and its reimagining as an AMC miniseries in 2009 demonstrates that the program’s endurance has as much to do with its viability as a commodity as its value as a canonic cult text. By tracing the industrial and press discourses around various incarnations of The Prisoner on American television, this article argues that show’s cult status has been perpetuated, in large part, by the industrial logic, marketing, and branding that has structured the rebroadcast and reimagining of the series. As such, this article builds on studies of cult television by examining how such discourses may be co-opted by the industry, repackaged as a commodity, and sold to advertisers and audiences.

Publication Information:

Name of Periodical: Television and New Media

Year of Publication: 2013