I didn’t see Twin Peaks when it originally aired. I heard about it from some of the older students I knew, but I didn’t watch the show until I saw re-runs on cable back around ’94 and ’95. I rushed home from school to watch the Log Lady’s introduction before being transported to a place both “wonderful and strange.” It quickly became my favorite show of all time, and it made a lasting impact on me.
I had always been attracted to the macabre and the strange. While other kids watched Disney, I wanted Max Schreck in Nosferatu. When my friends wanted to be read Dr. Seuss before they went to sleep, I wanted Kafka. I liked things weird, creepy, and unnerving. Now, I’m not trying to say I was some super intelligent little boy, I think I just wanted the adrenaline rush that came from being shocked and challenged. I’m sure I would have loved the Dadaists. When I discovered Twin Peaks, I was blown away. I was in a small town in Arizona where everyone thought, talked, and dressed the same. Suddenly my afternoons were spent with David Lynch and the Black Lodge, trying to figure out what happened to Laura Palmer.
I loved how the show changed gears so quickly. I would be laughing at the oddity of Deputy Andy one second, terrified by the spirit of Bob the next. I enjoyed being tested as a viewer: my expectations of narrative were constantly rattled. The humor was off-beat, the terror was no-holds barred, and the visuals were all their own. The show had such a mash of themes, I could never really describe it to anyone. There was melodrama, echoes of Beatnik-cool (I discovered Kerouac around the same time) and influences of American horror ranging from urban legends and folk tales to drive-in-picture type terror. Each episodes delved deeper into a mythos that I wanted to know more about. And, of course, I had horrible teenage crushes on all the show’s girls.
But it is easy for people to forget just how ahead of its time Twin Peaks really was. This was about a decade before The Sopranos, twenty years before True Detective and American Horror Story. There hadn’t been anything willing to be totally surreal on American television before. Networks were dominated by family sitcoms and soapy serials like L.A. Law and Dallas. David Lynch brought insane non-sequiturs and the occult into every living room in the country. Looking back, it is surprising the show even got on the air.
In a few days there will be a revival season on Showtime. I have no idea if the old magic will be there. But even if the lightning isn’t there, no one can take away from original seasons that introduced the world to Special Agent Dale Cooper and the town of cherry pie and damn good coffee.
Writer living in the hill country of Texas