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Power’s Blend of Quality and Cult Television


Power’s eighth episode of season 1, “Best Laid Plans,” demonstrates how it combines elements of both quality and cult television with its complex plot and character development (features of “quality television”) and its genre-blending and graphic content (features of “cult TV”). Power’s reputation as high-caliber television is influenced by its intricate story framework and character growth. According to Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction, quality television is characterized by complicated narrative structures that frequently feature many narratives and character arcs. James “Ghost” St. Patrick, his wife Tasha, his closest friend Tommy, and his mistress Angela are all central characters in the episode “Best Laid Plans,” which focuses on their interconnected lives. The episode explores the tensions between Ghost’s personal and professional lives, highlighting his attempt to balance his illegal activities with his legal, economic ventures. Deep character development, a defining characteristic of high-quality television, is made possible by this complexity, adding to the storytelling’s richness (Bourdieu).

Power has a complicated narrative structure and elements of cult television, such as genre-blending and graphic violence. The program combines aspects of a crime drama, a thriller, and a family drama to appeal to a broad audience and cultivate a devoted following. According to Henry Jenkins, cult TV programs frequently cross traditional genre lines to appeal to specialized audiences. Because this material often sparks debate and divides viewers, Power’s graphic content, which includes explicit images of sex and violence, furthers the show’s cult reputation (Jenkins; Hills). Power offers an engaging and complex viewing experience because of the clever blending of professional and cult TV features. The two forms are complementary, with the cult elements bringing intrigue and excitement to the plot and the quality elements improving the storytelling and character development. This interaction between quality and cult components casts doubt on the idea that the two kinds cannot coexist and cannot even complement one another.

In “Best Laid Plans,” the creators deftly contrast Ghost’s contrasting personas as a drug lord and a respectable businessman. The series’ main subject is this contradiction, which gives Ghost’s character complexity and depth. As it explores loyalty, treachery, and ambition, the episode also profoundly explores the interpersonal interactions between the characters. These nuanced character relationships influence the show’s reputation as high-caliber television. The stylistic and aesthetic decisions made for the show further highlight Power’s cult elements. The dramatic lighting and expertly planned cinematography accentuate the gloomy, brooding atmosphere. These aesthetic components give the audience an immersive viewing experience while contributing to the show’s visual identity.

Furthermore, Power’s use of high-quality and cult components has made it appealing to various audiences. The show’s intricate narrative structure and character development appeal to viewers who value brilliant storytelling, while fans of crime dramas and thrillers will enjoy its genre-blending and graphic violence. Power has effectively carved out a unique space in the crowded television scene by fusing these two forms. Finally, Power’s successful merging of quality and cult properties in the “Best Laid Plans” episode exemplifies how the two forms may live and improve one another, resulting in a rich and exciting viewing experience. The show’s intricate narrative design, character growth, genre-blending, and graphic content add to its identity and demonstrate how cult and quality components may coexist in modern television storytelling.


Power’s marketing and promotion expertly highlight its quality and cult features, highlighting the show’s distinctive fusion of these two components. We may better appreciate how the show’s promotion balances its status as both excellent television and cult television, appealing to a varied audience and contributing to its success, by looking at four paratexts.

Rapper and executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson: This paratext emphasizes the show’s quality by mentioning Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as an executive producer. Jackson’s prominence in the entertainment sector gives the undertaking credibility and cache. His participation shows that Power is a high-quality, well-produced series that draws viewers who value complex storytelling and polished production characteristics. Jackson’s connection to the show’s themes of crime and ambition also gives the story greater realism, further elevating the program’s standing as high-quality television.

Plot: Power B’s coexistence of cult and quality is demonstrated by the plot. The shows have a rich plot and character-driven stories to draw in fans who like complicated narratives and multifaceted characters. This establishes the show as cult TV. Power has been positioned as a show with a high level of quality storytelling. The show has suspenseful plotlines, well-developed characters, and strong performances. Hill defines cult television” as “having a primary relationship between a male and female character, that signals a mutual sexual attraction that is never fully realized or that cannot progress beyond romance… and characteristically depicts trusting relationships within a close-knit community” (512). For instance, in “Best Laid Plans,” Ghost’s inner conflict is shown in his relationships with his wife and mistress. His relationship with his wife is trusting, and she knows the full scope of the business and what he does. On the other hand, he explores his sexual relationship with his mistress, Angela. The plot presents Power as a top-notch television program that provides an exciting and thought-provoking viewing experience by emphasizing the show’s intricate narrative and character development.

Posters: The show’s marketing campaigns highlight its cult characteristics, appealing to viewers of crime dramas and thrillers. In the posters, Ghost is depicted in a hostile, menacing image, including the advice to “Choose wisely.” This tagline incorporates the elements of crime, deceit, and moral ambiguity in the program. It implies that viewers may anticipate a gritty, gripping series with significant stakes and surprising turns. The show’s urban environment and dramatic visual aesthetics are also evoked by the poster’s stark color scheme and gloomy tone, which add to its cult status.

Audiences: By interacting with its devoted following and promoting viewer participation, Power’s social media presence also highlights its cult status. Behind-the-scenes material, cast interviews, and fan art are routinely shared on the show’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts, establishing a sense of community among fans, and promoting the series. The show’s official Instagram account frequently posts behind-the-scenes content, teaser clips, and fan art, all of which are designed to generate buzz and foster a sense of community among fans.

Another paratext that represents Power B’s cult appeal is the show’s fan group. According to Hills, “cult status arises, ultimately, through an audience’s passion for a TV show” (511). The “StarzPowerFandom” fan network is a paratextual illustration that portrays “Power” as a cult program. This worldwide network of dedicated fans demonstrates that “Power” has built a large and passionate fan base, which is one of the main features of cult television. This strategy for social media marketing targets ardent viewers who appreciate getting lost in the show’s universe and conversing with other aficionados about its intricate details. The show’s social media presence enhances its cult status by providing a forum for fans to interact and express their love for Power.

These four paratexts show that Power’s marketing and promotion may successfully blend quality and cult elements. Aside from its grungy billboard design and active social media presence, the show’s relationship with 50 Cent and emphasis on intricate plot and character development in promotional materials highlight its standing as high-caliber television. The show’s marketing efforts successfully target both quality and cult viewers, which adds to its wide popularity and success.

The quality and cult components of Power are lanced by its marketing and promotion techniques, proving that the two types can coexist and even complement one another. The paratexts of the show, such as its connection to 50 Cent, promotional trailers, poster art, and social media presence, successfully target a wide range of viewers and add to the show’s broad appeal. Power’s marketing highlights the possibility for these two genres to collaborate in modern television promotion and audience engagement by emphasizing quality and cult elements.


Power demonstrates how these features contribute to its popularity as a program that blends quality and cult characteristics by reflecting several industry trends and business methods within the contemporary television landscape. First, Power is a prime example of the serialized storytelling craze. Instead of episodic, standalone, serialized tales have ongoing plotlines that develop over several episodes and seasons. In the era of streaming services and binge-watching, serialized storytelling has grown in popularity, according to (Lotz) since it allows for more affluent character development and intricate plotting. One of the best examples of this pattern is Power’s complex story, which follows James’s “Ghost” St. Patrick’s dual existence as a nightclub owner and drug lord. The show’s serialized format keeps viewers interested and entices them to keep watching, which helps to explain its financial success.

Second, Power serves as an example of the value of branding and distinction in the competitive television industry. The network that airs Power, Starz, has positioned itself as a source of exclusive, high-quality programming. Starz sets itself apart from rivals and caters to a broad audience by creating a show that blends quality and cult characteristics. According to (Lotz), Power’s success has strengthened the network’s entire brand identity and cemented its standing as a source for practical, high-caliber television programs.

Third, the business environment in which Power is set reflects the growing importance of streaming services and their influence on the creation and distribution of television content. Starz, a high-end cable network, has embraced the streaming media trend by making its content available on various platforms, including its streaming app. By employing this tactic, the network may expand its reach and take advantage of the growing popularity of streaming and binge-watching (Newman et al.). Starz maximizes the potential audience for Power by making it available across various platforms, which also improves the show’s financial attractiveness.

Two academic sources address the development, marketing, and reception of the show Power and its industrial backdrop. In her research of branding and distinctiveness in the modern television environment, Power is used as a case study by Lotz to show how Starz has overcome these difficulties. She contends that the show’s distinctive fusion of cult and high-quality aspects has helped Starz stand out in a crowded market and attract a devoted audience. The advent of streaming services and their effect on the creation and distribution of television programs are also topics covered by (Newman et al.), who offer helpful context for understanding Power’s success. Their study demonstrates how networks like Starz have modified their strategies to take advantage of these shifts and how streaming services have changed how people watch television.

As Sarah Cardwell argues in her study of quality television, the decision as to which TV shows to name as quality TV comes from “high production values, naturalistic performance styles, recognized esteemed actors”, which determines an interpretation’s validity. Power received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, earned by Omari Hardwick for his portrayal of James “Ghost” St. Patrick. This nomination showcases the show’s ability to create complex characters and powerful performances. In this case, Power’s branding as a high-quality program by Starz has contributed to its success.

The advent of streaming services and their effect on the creation and distribution of television programs are also topics covered by (Newman et al.), who offer helpful context for understanding Power’s success. Their study demonstrates how networks like Starz have modified their strategies to take advantage of these shifts and how streaming services have changed how people watch television. Additionally, Goddard and Hog discuss the intersectional genealogies of televisual content in the era of streaming and Internet-distributed television, which is relevant to understanding Power’s success in the changing television landscape.

While the context surrounding Power emphasizes its adherence to industry trends and business methods, Goddard, and Hogg’s analysis of queer and trans television aesthetics in the post-medium transformation era raises questions about the representation and aesthetics of contemporary television. As the television landscape continues to evolve, it is important to consider how new technological and institutional configurations affect the intersectional genealogies of televisual content.

Power’s success in the current television landscape may be linked to its adherence to several significant business and industry trends. The show’s branding, distinction, availability across various platforms, and serialized storytelling have all contributed to its appeal as both high-quality and cult television. We can better comprehend the elements that have contributed to the show’s success in the modern television market by looking at the industrial environment of Power and scholarly research on related subjects. This analysis emphasizes the significance of identifying and responding to market trends and shows how a successful television series may be produced by fusing high-quality and cult components.


The successful fusion of high-quality and cult components in Power provides insightful information about how both genres have developed in post-network television’s digital era. The program disproves the idea that high-quality and cult elements cannot coexist peacefully, boosting one another and refuting that they are fundamentally unlike. Because it enables sophisticated storytelling, rich character development, and genre innovation, which can appeal to a broad audience, this successful integration demonstrates that fusing quality and cult components is an effective strategy in the contemporary television scene.

The program also emphasizes the significance of distribution, branding, and differentiation tactics in the current television landscape. Power has successfully negotiated the difficulties of the post-network age and cemented its position as a well-liked and highly praised show by embracing the trend towards serialized storytelling and the rising significance of streaming services. This highlights how it is imperative to comprehend and respond to industry trends to produce appealing television content in today’s competitive media environment.

Power contends that great television and cult television have grown and adapted to the shifting environment of the television industry by looking at their respective histories, which go back to the live anthology drama and Star Trek. The program is an example of how the approaches indicated by quality and cult TV are not always incompatible but can instead be blended to produce engaging, original content that appeals to a broad audience.

Works Cited

Hills, Matthew. “Defining cult TV: Texts, inter-texts and fan audiences.” The television studies reader. Taylor & Francis, 2003. 509-523.

Jenkins, Henry. Textual poachers: Television fans and participatory culture. Routledge, 2012.

Lotz, Amanda D. The television will be revolutionized. NYU Press, 2014.

Mittell, Jason. Complex TV: The poetics of contemporary television storytelling. NY Press, 2015.

Newman, Michael Z., and Elana Levine. Legitimating Television: Media convergence and cultural status. Routledge, 2012.

Cardwell, Sarah. Is quality television good?

Goddard, Michael N., and Christopher Hogg. “Streaming intersectionality: Queer and trans television aesthetics in post-medium transformation.” Critical Studies in Television 14.4 (2019): 429-434.


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