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“That Show You Like Might Be Coming Back in Style”: How Twin Peaks Changed the Face of Contemporary Television



Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca


The present study revisits one of American television’s most famous and influential shows, Twin Peaks, which ran on ABC between 1990 and 1991. Its unique visual style, its haunting music, the idiosyncratic characters and the mix of mythical and supernatural elements made it the most talked-about TV series of the 1990s and generated numerous parodies and imitations. Twin Peaks was the brainchild of America’s probably least mainstream director, David Lynch, and Mark Frost, who was known to television audiences as one of the scriptwriters of the highly popular detective series Hill Street Blues. When Twin Peaks ended in 1991, the show’s severely diminished audience were left with one of most puzzling cliffhangers ever seen on television, but the announcement made by Lynch and Frost in October 2014, that the show would return with nine fresh episodes premiering on Showtime in 2016, quickly went viral and revived interest in Twin Peaks’ distinctive world. In what follows, I intend to discuss the reasons why Twin Peaks was considered a highly original work, well ahead of its time, and how much the show was indebted to the legacy of classic American film noir; finally, I advance a few speculations about the possible plotlines the series might explore upon its return to the small screen.

Keywords: Twin Peaks, television series, film noir, David Lynch