Admitting You Don’t Get ‘Twin Peaks’ Is the First Step to Happiness
A reluctant fan and someone who’s literally never seen the show talk through the new reboot.
The Mars Volta, basically any book made into one of those orange Penguin Classics, David Lynch—these are all things I spent most of high school pretending to understand and appreciate. Usually to impress the kind of guy who’d corner you at a party to explain why Frances the Mute and not De-Loused in the Comatorium is "actually Omar Rodríguez-López’ true masterpiece." In essence, I wasted my youth.
But as with so many formative memories knit into the teenage brain, it’s impossible for me to untangle Twin Peaks from all of this cultural d-baggery. With the new season’s release opening the floodgate of earnest thinkpieces, I wanted to try and shake off my Lynch cynicism. So I decided to get a fresh perspective from the only person I could find in my inner city bubble who hadn’t seen the original Twin Peaks—Noisey’s very own Issy Beech. We went along to a very exclusive media screening of the reboot’s first two episodes, and these are our thoughts.
Maddison Connaughton: OK, so we need to talk about the new Twin Peaks. The two of us, and apparently the entire planet, have just seen the first two episodes of the reboot. You had never seen the show before, right?
Issy Beech: I’ve never seen it. And I think you’re the only person who knows that in the whole world. Apart from…
Connaughton: The entire cinema?
Beech: And anyone who reads this, I guess. I’ve never explicitly said, "I’ve watched Twin Peaks" to anyone, but I’ve definitely never denied it when someone just assumed I had. I once dated this guy who was like, "I’ve just watched Twin Peaks. What the hell, how have I never seen it?" and I was like, "Oh, I don’t know." He was like, "It’s so good!" and I was like, "Yep, it really is…" He assumed so hard that I’d seen it. I kind of just didn’t want to disappoint him.
Connaughton: Alright, first impressions: What did you think?
Beech: There were two things I was thinking before I went into this screening. I do know bits and pieces about this show because it’s extremely fucking famous, but also because I live in a corner of the universe/internet where I come up against screencaps and paraphernalia about Twin Peaks all the time. I’ve been to an actual party where it was just playing on a projector the entire time—that’s life as a "millennial." So, basically, I was going into these new episodes hoping, firstly, that it wouldn’t be mimicking the look of the old one and trying really hard to stay 90s. Secondly, that it wouldn’t go to the other extreme, all the way into the future and be all sick effects and stuff. It didn’t do either of those things! And that’s fresh.
Connaughton: It "subverted expectations."
Beech: Exactly! Even I had expectations, me! An idiot who doesn’t know anything about it.
Connaughton: I can’t shake the feeling, though, that in the 25 years since the last season ended, Twin Peaks has almost become this litmus test for whether you have "good taste." Whether you get Twin Peaks, whether you appreciate David Lynch. It can be a bit of a… intellectual dick-measuring contest.
Beech: Definitely. And I also think that not everyone who’s seen Twin Peaks and says they like it actually likes it. It may be one of the bigger conspiracies on Planet Earth.
Connaughton: I don’t even think everyone in the tiny cinema we watched it in actually liked it.
Beech: Yeah, I don’t know if I did… It was really funny and weird as shit, which I liked. But… you know when you go to any indie theater and see some independent film and people laugh so hard at the smallest joke, and it’s almost like this giant circlejerk of people who get it? Of people who "listen to NPR" and "drink soy milk," no offense.
Connaughton: None taken, even though you are literally describing me. But, you know, I listen to NPR, appreciate poetry, drink soy milk—and even I thought some people were laughing a little hard at the jokes. With the original series—which you have not seen—it was kind of playing with the genre, with the "sexy teen drama." It was a bit more playful. The reboot didn’t feel as fun. I don’t know if it’s because everyone is old in this new season: Agent Dale Cooper is old, and he has—spoiler alert—weird long hair and this really gross leather jacket look now.
Beech: So the long-haired one is meant to be Dale Cooper’s doppelgänger, and his doppelgänger is out in the world doing evil shit, and actual Dale Cooper is stuck inside whatever that other thing is just like, existing?
Connaughton: Yep. The non-evil Dale Cooper has been stuck in the Black Lodge for 25 years.
Beech: That’s a sick fucking plot. I wish I’d known that’s what was happening. But it’s hard to believe that anyone who looks like Kyle MacLachlan would ever be scary or mean to anyone. Even if he had a gun to my head, I would still not feel threatened by Kyle MacLachlan with long hair.
Connaughton: I just think of him in Sex and the City.
Beech: Yeah, as Trey, who can’t get an erection. I will say, one thing I really really liked about the vibe of this show—that I’ve fucking never seen before—is that you forget you’re trying to solve a crime, or even care about a narrative. That’s really fun. I pretty much only watch Law & Order: SVU and whatever Netflix thing is cool at the time, and they always have a really obvious narrative; you’re always waiting for a payoff. But with Twin Peaks, you get to sit back and enjoy whatever is happening, because it’s none of your business when they are going to get there. You don’t know; you can’t know when information is actually going to be delivered to you and when you’re just going to be surprised by the people making the show.
Connaughton: I guess that’s the thing with Lynch. He can just do whatever the fuck he wants, and we just indulge him.
Beech: Most people would be like, "Let him do whatever he wants; he’s a genius!"
Connaughton: Sometimes I wonder if he’s not a genius, and he’s just tricked us all.
Beech: I don’t think you have to be a genius to make cool art. So, I don’t know if he is. Definitely, in terms of confounding audiences, he’s real good at that. And making people feel uncomfortable. I think there’s certainly a genius element to it, but then… I was going to say, "’Genius’ isn’t a word we should throw around too much." Then I remembered I say it every other day about every other trap artist…
Connaughton: "This is GENIUS!"
Beech: So I should probably just shut the up.
Connaughton: I want to talk a little about what worked with these first two episodes because there was a lot to appreciate. Firstly, there have been so many reboots lately, and so many of them have way too much cringey fan service. I guess I’m mostly just thinking about the Gilmore Girls reboot, also on Netflix. No, wait! This is on Stan, oops. Anyway, there weren’t really any of those moments in Twin Peaks. No one is like, "Damn fine coffee!" and then winking at the camera.
Beech: Gilmore Girls was so hard to watch because Lorelai’s face was so waxy and strange. And I don’t say that to objectify her or shame her, but oh my God, I just couldn’t watch it. I was just like, "I can’t watch this without anyone addressing it" because I feel like the relationship that she and Rory have, Rory would’ve said something! Anyway, yeah, I think the makers of any show are scared the real diehard fans won’t sit through unless they’re given really obvious payoffs. Which obviously isn’t true.
Connaughton: This reboot seemed more violent than a lot of Lynch’s other work I’ve seen. A lot more blood and guts. I’m thinking in particular of that naked couple that’s slit to shit by some weird cloud. Someone gets shot in the head. There’s this engorged body that’s found. There was a lot more body horror going on in this. And I just don’t remember the older seasons being as visceral.
Beech: I wonder if that’s to keep up with the times? There’s just so much gore and violence in TV and film. But I really liked that, although definitely at one point I was like, "Wow, I’ve seen four people die in an hour."
Connaughton: Who’s that director who did Cosmopolis? David Cronenberg! There were definitely parts of these two episodes—particularly those scenes in New York—that felt very Cronenberg. And… I don’t know if this has been said before but I feel like David Cronenberg and David Lynch look quite similar, make somewhat similar films, and have never been seen in the same room together.
Beech: I think David Cronenberg is probably the evil David Lynch, right?
Connaughton: He’s his evil doppelgänger.
Beech: David Cronenberg is his evil doppelgänger, and David Lynch has been trapped in the, what’s it called again… the Black Lodge for the past 25 years. One more thing: What’s up with the log?