clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Twin Peaks people are right and November is best the time to watch it

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite autumnal habit: hanging out with Agent Dale Cooper

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

A headshot of Agent Dale Cooper in front of a red curtain from Twin Peaks Image: CBS
Joshua Rivera (he/him) is an entertainment and culture journalist specializing in film, TV, and video game criticism, the latest stop in a decade-plus career as a critic.

Would you look at that — it is now November! The month after the Spooky Month. The month where people talk about “the holidays.” The month where it gets dark nonsensically early in much of the United States, because we do something called daylight saving time, as if the trees dying around us wasn’t hard enough. The month with “Black Friday” and endless urges to buy stuff. November can be a lot! Maybe you don’t care for all that. Here’s a way to make November better: Watch Twin Peaks.

Truth be told, this is a secret to making any month better, at any time. As much as I have tried to find fault with it, Twin Peaks, annoyingly, remains great. I cannot think about Twin Peaks for more than five minutes without immediately wanting to watch Twin Peaks. It can rewire your brain that way — taking a region previously devoted to, I don’t know, Vine nostalgia or long division, and filling it with donuts and strange men who speak backward.

Like a lot of classics that have endured for decades, the way Twin Peaks is talked about can be exhausting, and a hurdle to actually enjoying it. It’s cited as an influence for countless works, ranging in tone and genre from Riverdale to Atlanta. Video games of all types also cite Twin Peaks as a foundational text, in titles as wildly different as The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Control. All art has the potential to irrevocably change the people that come in contact with it, but Twin Peaks has proven itself exceptionally good at it.

Expectation, then, can be the second biggest hurdle to enjoying Twin Peaks. When a reputation this large precedes something, it’s hard not to approach it in a confrontational manner, as if to say: Alright, TV show. Show me what you’ve got!

I understand this impulse. I too, bristle at consensus. How nice it is, I often think, that you are all wrong together. Unfortunately, this is an instance in which I have to agree: The world is right about Twin Peaks.

A framed high school photograph of Laura Palmer, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed student with a big smile Image: CBS

But perhaps you’ve heard “Twin Peaks” bandied about all this time (and in this very article) and never had anyone tell you what it is. Allow me to assist: Created by filmmaker David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks was a short-lived drama in the early ’90s about a small Northwestern town rocked by the murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the homecoming queen. What set Twin Peaks apart — and the first of many things later shows would lift from it — was that the murder was never the point. While protagonist FBI agent Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) investigation with local police is a running thread through the show, Twin Peaks’ creators were far more interested in digging beneath the pleasant surface of small-town America to plumb the darkness — and oddities — within.

This is the other thing Twin Peaks is famous for: being weird as hell. In Twin Peaks, a woman clutches a log and may be clairvoyant, another woman gains superhuman strength out of nowhere, and the suggestion of the supernatural lurks ever presently in the background as entities from other worlds seem to be at work in the eponymous town.

Incredibly goofy, often terrifying, and abrasively odd at times (barring the first and last few episodes, the show’s second season is not nearly as beloved as the first), Twin Peaks remains singular in spite of its many imitators. Watching it feels like drifting off to sleep in front of the television, not sure if what you’re witnessing is real, as the wall between your conscious and subconscious mind grows porous and logic loses its grip on the world.

It feels a bit like autumn, as the natural world around you begins to die and disappear. The pleasant chill in the November air is also somehow foreboding, a reminder that maybe the world will always be a bit of a mystery to us.

In the end, this is the greatest lesson Twin Peaks left behind, one remarkably left intact by the psychological horror of its brilliant follow-up film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and its singular, astonishing 2017 revival, Twin Peaks: The Return. Explanations? They’re a fool’s errand. We can never get to the root of the rot that causes a girl to be murdered and horrors to be hidden in plain sight. Perhaps we are all even terribly complicit, blind to the pain of our neighbors. But you will still meet good people, lovely souls, and a few folks that are perhaps more than a little odd. Take a little time to appreciate them and the time you have with them. In a few days there will be less sunlight than ever, and we will all be here in the dark, together.

Twin Peaks is available to watch on Paramount Plus. It is also available for digital purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.