By Daria Gitiforooz
Recently, I have been re-watching the show Twin Peaks, and if possible, I’m more in love with it than ever before. Not only is the plot engaging and mystifying, but the cinematography, cast, soundtrack, and overall set location are all phenomenal. Aired in 1990 when there were only 3 television networks, it was unlike any television show ever aired before. David Lynch, the director and one of the writers, is known for his strange and mysterious style, directing several other wacky projects, such as Mulholland Drive; he is always ready to surprise you with another wild plot twist, which is an aspect I love about Twin Peaks. If you are looking for a new show that will keep you on the edge of your seat and constantly impress you, I recommend you look into Twin Peaks (which is available on Netflix!). Here are some things I simply love about the show:
The show, which is considered a “mystery horror drama”, follows an investigation by FBI special agent Dale Cooper into the murder of teenager Laura Palmer in the fictional small town of Twin Peaks, Washington. Dale Cooper’s eccentric humor and optimistic personality makes him a favorite character. And as his investigation unfolds, the show begins to display some supernatural elements, as well. David Lynch’s love for the unusual is obvious in many scenes, which is one of the reasons why Twin Peaks is so great. The attached clip is just one example of this. While sometimes it’s hard to wrap one’s head around the bizarre plot twists and random events, I think it only makes the show better.
The Twin Peaks soundtrack is definitely one of the best I have ever heard. The theme song itself is a masterpiece, and even though the opening credits are long, I always sit through them just to hear the theme song. The rest of the soundtrack, especially for the first two seasons, is appropriately eerie and creepy, adding to the already mysterious vibe of the show.
If you want to get an idea of what the show’s music sounds like, I compiled a playlist of some of the songs most played throughout the first and second season.
Here is a clip from season one, where mischievous town teenager Audrey dances to a song she plays on the jukebox in the local Twin Peaks diner, The Double R. The song pulls the viewer in, and one can almost relate to Audrey getting lost in the song as she swings to the hypnotic beat. This is how I feel throughout the length of the show.
Also from season one, this seemingly random but melancholy moment is another instance that demonstrates the role music plays in Twin Peaks. The troubled teenagers Donna, James, and Maddy all take a break from their mystery solving to jam out, the scene representing the unspoken tension between the characters.
Lastly, here is a scene from the Roadhouse, a local hangout spot in Twin Peaks with live music. The woman who sings a lot of the soundtrack makes an appearance here, becoming a part of the show through her performance. This scene is also an emotional moment between Donna and James, the music only adding to the passion. This also prefaces a supernatural appearance; the song is so hypnotizing, it’s not surprising that magic happens during it.
Considering this show was filmed in the late 80’s, this show was ahead of its time regarding social issues. During this time, Native American representation in the media was almost nonexistent, and when Native Americans did appear on television, their portrayal was fueled by racist stereotypes. In Twin Peaks, however, one of the main characters, Hawk, is a Native American man whose culture is not exploited to “further the plot”. While Hawk does talk about his native American spirituality, this is represented with respect and his character does not play into common Native American stereotypes. Another main character, Bob, is Native American, as well. He is an extremely essential and talented member of the Twin Peaks cast, and his representation is pretty significant during this time period.
Another aspect of the show that was monumental was the addition of a trans character in season 2. The 90’s were not a good time for trans representation in the media, especially trans women, and their portrayal was often that of mockery and stereotypes. However, when Special Agent Dale Cooper meets up with a former colleague from the DEA, Dennis Bryson, Cooper is unfazed when she reintroduces herself as Denise. In a time when trans characters were seen as villains who were always at the butt of the joke, Denise’s portrayal as a confident, hilarious, empowered, and talented woman is a breath of fresh air. When Cooper accidentally mis-genders her, he quickly corrects himself, setting a good example for his other colleagues, who also accept Denise’s identity after observing Cooper’s behavior. In one scene, when Denise rants about her struggle accepting her gender identity, Cooper listens intently. Even today, people say Denise’s character is one of the most compassionate trans women on TV.
Although these characters aren’t perfect, their addition in Twin Peaks was an important step towards equal representation, and it was definitely monumental for the time period.
Throughout the show, Special Agent Dale Cooper gives some great advice. Here are some of his notable quotes from season 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks.
“All things considered, being shot is not as bad as I always thought it might be. As long as you can keep the fear from your mind. But I guess you can say that about anything in life.”
“I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt in a men’s store, a cat nap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.”
“A man who doesn’t love easily loves too much.”
“I have just concluded my second meditation of the day in lieu of sleep. And I feel completely refreshed and struck again by the realization that all of us on this great big planet Earth live at only a fraction of our potential.”
There are so many super cool and beautiful shots throughout the show; many consider Twin Peaks “the most visually striking TV show ever made”. The colors of red, brown, and orange appear so frequently that the show seems like it almost has some kind of “filter” on it. I am no expert on cinematography, but I was still able to appreciate the camera shots.
This scene is just one example of the unique and mysterious portrayal of certain events. When initially finding out about Laura Palmer’s death, the viewer is suspended in several seconds of complete silence as the camera pans up the phone that told Laura’s mother about her daughter’s death.
In conclusion, if you find yourself scrolling through Netflix wondering what to watch, I definitely recommend you check out Twin Peaks. I promise you won’t regret it!