'We put 20 tons of nuts in the post': meet TV's most extreme superfans

When Star Trek was due to be axed, they wrote letters in protest. Now fans mobilise on social media, picket the TV companies – and even go on hunger strike

Modern fandom can seem an alien concept. Gone are the teens penning heartfelt letters to their favourite pinups. Today’s fans – or “stans”, named after the Eminem song about an obsessive stalker – are an online army ready to take on anyone that might threaten the object of their adoration. Most recently, fans of the cult Netflix show The Oa have mounted a global campaign to have it reinstated after it was cancelled in August. Their tactics have taken fanaticism to the extreme: one demonstrator has even gone on hunger strike.

Fandom and TV have long gone hand-in-hand. The television fan movement was arguably born with the 1966 campaign to keep a little-known new series named Star Trek on air. After low ratings for the first two seasons,
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