Can a meta show be too meta? The creator of Cult, which features a show within the show, hopes that answer is no.
The new CW series stars Vampire Diaries alum Matt Davis as Jeff, a journalist who is prompted to investigate the rabid fans of a show called Cult when his brother goes missing. Jessica Lucas plays an inquisitive production assistant on the show whom he teams up with during his search. The series leads viewers to sometimes question if they're watching the "inside" show — which stars Robert Knepper as cult leader Billy Grimm and Alona Tal as the cop searching for him --or the "outside" show which follows Jeff. The executive producer of the inside show, Stephen Rae, is also mysteriously labeled as the executive producer of the outside show that the audience is watching.
"We are aware we have a complex multifaceted show going on and are trying to keep it as clear as possible," executive producer Rockne O'Bannon told reporters at the Televisions Critics Association winter TV previews Sunday . "I have a great deal of faith and trust in the audience to hook into what's going on."
A big part of the appeal with having a fictional show that uses social media and the idea of group viewings as a character of its own is that The CW can incorporate "second screen" into its promotion.
"What's interesting to CW marketing is that it isn't just social media being used to promote a show ,but that the show is about social media and that connection," O'Bannon said. "The marketing will be the same within the show as the marketing the appears on the side of buses and such." And executive producer Josh Schwartz, who knows a thing or two about how social media affects a series, added, "[With Twitter] you have such access to the people creating and starring in the shows and you feel like you can control that conversation. When things don't go the way you have tweeted...there's a certain level of animosity that can grow." But enough to kill? "We obviously hope that the show is incredibly effective," O'Bannon said, before Len Goldstein added, "Not that effective."
Cult premieres on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 9/8c on The CW.