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Δευτέρα, 6 Δεκεμβρίου, 2021
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionCultureWhy is Twin Peaks one of the best series ever made?

Why is Twin Peaks one of the best series ever made?

By Mado Gianni,

“It’s a pretty simple town. It used to be. I guess the world caught up on us”, Sheriff Harry (Michael Ontkean) remarks on episode 17, a little bit before the finale of Season 2.

A lot has been said and written about Twin Peaks over the years and over the decades. Its cult and campy character have given the show as much as they have taken from it. The criticism against the series’ production after Lynch left the show is remarked, if not acknowledged, by a big percentage of the Twin Peaks fanbase. Yet, the series remains one of the best series ever made, its legacy preceding most criticism.

Twin Peaks was created by David Lynch and Mark Frost and aired between 1990-1992 on ABC. The third season came as its creators must have predicted, 25 years later (26 years in actual fact) on Showtime. One could argue that if not for the third season, some might have forgotten it already. But that would take away from its brilliance and it would not be fair. In fact, Twin Peaks has ascended to the place of “best series ever made” because of its relevance, its uniqueness and its timelessness.

It might be a David Lynch quirky mystery and this reason only would be enough to convince an audience to put it on and watch it but while watching it, it is something else that makes the viewer fall in love with the series.

Twin Peaks is super representative of a specific time and space. The setting is simple, a small American town located somewhere within the vast nature of Washington State close to the Canadian border. Its no wonder that a nature-specific landscape like that would serve as inspiration for such a story. Here, it would be criminal not to mention the effect that Angelo Badalamenti’s music has had on the series as a whole, scene after scene, episode after episode.

The plot begins with the murder of a teenage girl, giving the viewer the impression that the series will be just another murder mystery show. Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrives at the small town with a mic recorder to which he constantly reports to, a high obsession to a warm cup of coffee, his shrewd intuition and his quick-witted straightforwardness.

Image credit: ABC

Instead of a murder mystery oriented storyline, howerver, Lynch and Frost spend time on introducing us to a very broad variety of characters. At the beginning, we do not know what the connection of a character is to the victim or even to any of the other closely-related-to-the crime-scene characters. Yet, I find that is where the beauty of the series hides. Twin Peaks is structured in a way that human interactions between the local town’s community members are at the forefront while every single one of them has been developed to represent themselves and not themselves in response to the murder mystery. Choosing to put emphasis on the characters creates the cement upon which the mystery will unravel.

Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) was murdered and Agent Cooper in collaboration with the local police department have to find out what happened. Still, that is not more important than Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) breaking up with Andy (Harry Goaz) over his clumsiness. And it does not stop Norma (Peggy Lipton) and Big Ed (Everett McGill) from the constant drama of wanting to relive their prolonged high school love. Not to mention Shelly’s (Mädchen Amick) and Bobby’s (Dana Ashbrook) affair or Donna’s (Lara Flynn Boyle) and James’ (James Marshall) uncalled-for love. As a viewer, you want to know how these love affairs will work out as much as you want Agent Cooper to solve the mystery that he was tasked to disentangle.

In a way, Twin Peaks abides to all the TV rules and regulations of cheesiness and drama but it does so in an endearing way and in combination to the bigger issues that are at stake which are of equal importance for the show. After all, if not for its science fiction aspect, the Black Lodge and evil Bob, there would be no plot. It is beautiful and at the same time impressive the way Lynch, Frost and their rooms of writers envisioned the story to advance. If you ask me, I have not googled enough to find answers to all the questions that accumulated throughout the last episodes of season 2.

Coming back to the quote that I chose to start my article with, my reading of that remark comes down to the conclusion that maybe the story got out of hand. Maybe they did not know how they wanted to finish it. Or maybe they did. No one can ever really know for certain. But somehow, this adds to the charm of the series. It does not have to make spot-on, immediate sense, either production-wise or story-wise, to create a legacy which has already spanned over three decades and it is bound to last even more. But it does have to make you care about the characters in a way that will be relevant even if styles or circumstances change. To me, that is the authentic worth of any audiovisual material that is ever created. To last over time. To mean something.


  • Wikipedia, Twin Peaks, Available here. 



Mado Gianni
She was born in 1997 in Athens. She grew up in Belgium. She has studied Film Studies in the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She was Festival Director for St Andrews Film Festival for two consecutive years. She really likes writing and reading. She has written for both her school and university newspapers before she got involved with OffLine Post. She has also been part of many short film productions mainly as an editor. She speaks English and French.