When Twin Peaks initially took television by storm in 1990, I was a fourteen-year-old classic horror nerd hell bent on consuming every bit of popular culture that seemed at odds with my conservative hometown. In other words, I was the ideal audience for David Lynch and Mark Frost’s surrealistic tale of murder and debauchery in a small town. And while I initially tuned into the series for Piper Laurie, I (and most of America) soon became obsessed with the tragic backstory of Laura Palmer, the Prom Queen whose sweet smile hid an array of dark and seedy secrets. Since I was myself on the cusp of entering high school in a small town, Laura’s story was instantly identifiable, even as it also possessed an air of otherness.
Over the years, I have periodically gone back and rewatched the series, and it holds up remarkably well. But on Sunday, a new chapter of Twin Peaks will be written when the lauded show returns for a 9 episode run on Showtime. But while I am excited about the prospect of revisiting old friends–and old fears–I’ve been somewhat take aback by a couple of merchandising decisions designed to accompany the show’s return.
If there has been one criticism that has plagued the Frost/Lynch saga, it is that Twin Peaks almost singlehandedly ushered in the dead-teen-girl-as-spectacle trope that now plagues network and premium television at an almost incomprehensible rate. But does the show truly deserve that criticism?
In terms of narrative, I’d argue no. But in terms of recent merchandising decisions? Maybe.