August 12, 2014 10:53 AM EDT

With so much TV, from reality shows to bad movies, the best entertainment is what happens in your living room. This basic-cable masterpiece raised talking back to the TV into an art form, as a human and his robot buddies were consigned to live on a satellite, watching lousy movies against their will. The team’s rapid-fire references ranged from the scatological to the Biblical (“Give us Barabbas!” they shout over a crowd scene in Attack of the Giant Leeches). With other meta-TV shows like E!’s Talk Soup, MST3K was an example of what culture critic Steven Johnson called “information filters,” or media about other media; it filled the snarky role of blogs before blogs existed. From the vantage of MST3K‘s lonely Satellite of Love, pop culture was hell, and heaven too.

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