Watching the Internet Choke On the New "Twin Peaks" Is Going to Be Fun
May 19, 2017 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Matt Zoller Seitz at vulture.com walks through the reasons that the new "Twin Peaks" isn't likely to mesh well with today's style of internet-enabled fandom.
posted by Ipsifendus (53 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
This annoys me:

And when it becomes clear that a series isn’t terribly interested in narrative housekeeping, and in fact has to remind itself to give a damn about that kind of thing, the popular audience tends to run the other way, because they don’t know how to process it.

A more true assessment, for me, would be the popular audience tends to run the other way, because they don’t have the desire to process creepy dream world stuff or other people's nostalgia when the real world has as much urgency as it does.

If this gives comfort or delight to other people, then it's very valuable and I support it. Don't imply that the people who don't enjoy it simply lack skill.

I might enjoy it, my SO is very much looking forward to this, but I think the differences in our backgrounds mean that he's much more willing to spectate the weird while I'm driven by a need for meaning, comfort, or utility.

I do think this might be a class difference.
posted by amtho at 9:00 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Matt is overthinking this. Lynch never overthinks. Lynch wants to entertain himself and has nothing to lose. Because of the internet it's much easier to be a risky visionary today then it was 25 years ago. If Lynch sticks to his method the new show will reflect his current desires not his past.
posted by judson at 9:05 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


It was charming and weird, but it was also creepy and upsetting and sometimes genuinely horrifying.
Now I wonder if I'm the only viewer who just found it charming and weird. Taking anything in Twin Peaks seriously enough to feel genuine horror is like weeping for all the innocent civilians who die when comic book super villains destroy cities. Accepting the story as emotionally real requires abandoning everything else we know to be true about the world.

I've experienced media that is actually grotesque, and it's fantastic. All of Lynch's stuff is far too artificial to land in that category. It's what your smart but slightly annoying film-studies college roommate produces when asked to create a horror film as a final project: interesting and creative, but so obviously self-aware and filled with references that it's impossible to take seriously as an actual narrative. (Which doesn't mean it isn't fun to watch.)
posted by eotvos at 9:11 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


Not sure how fair it is to draw conclusions on the new series based on Inland Empire, or Lynch's solo career since the original series. Those were all solo Lynch, but Mark Frost co-wrote again on this one.
posted by pziemba at 9:13 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


All of Lynch's stuff is far too artificial … it's impossible to take seriously as an actual narrative

I don't agree. Look at Inland Empire. It's creepy and scary as fuck, IMO, not because of how real its narrative is, but because of how creepy and scary as fuck it is. It's the bastard love child of the Abyss and the Void's drunken one night stand grabbing your cheeks and forcing you to stare into its eyes as it screams your own mortality at you, over and over, forever, amen.
posted by signal at 9:15 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I was most interested in Section 3: 'Twin Peaks was a meditation on grief and trauma that expressed itself in unrelenting, deliberately unreal, often mystifying ways' (which I personally think should have just been shortened to 'Garmonbozia' but I'm not a writer, what do I know?).

I had never specifically thought about what he presents there, but in hindsight it's obvious. I was the teenager he mentioned, and on my last re-watch I was the adult. There's a reason that to this day I have a hard time looking at Grace Zabriskie's face - her pain was just so raw and naked that it was really off-putting to me in a way that I couldn't articulate the first time I saw it, and watching it now I'm just so sad that she's hurting so badly and no one can help her.
posted by komara at 9:17 AM on May 19 [15 favorites]


The inhuman screams of Grace Zabriskie on that pilot sealed the deal for me the first time around. TV audiences *still* aren't ready for that kind of raw emotion, and this article neatly summarizes why I'm so excited for this new season.
posted by rocketman at 9:19 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


There's a reason that to this day I have a hard time looking at Grace Zabriskie's face - her pain was just so raw and naked that it was really off-putting to me in a way that I couldn't articulate the first time I saw it, and watching it now I'm just so sad that she's hurting so badly and no one can help her.

That primal scream in the second episode. I can still hear it. It's so overwrought, it cuts to the heart.
posted by Fizz at 9:22 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


What rocketman said as I was typing.
posted by Fizz at 9:22 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


There's also the principal breaking down as he's trying to announce what happened, and Donna's reaction.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:29 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I feel like at least in my case, Twin Peaks still is what I remember it was. I've been rewatching, and it turns out it's the humor I forgot. (Deputy Andy getting tape all over his hands while putting up wanted posters.) The creepy scary, otherworldly mysteries I totally remember.

I very much agree with this point, though:
Quite by accident, Lynch, a filmmaker known for his cryptic, sometimes cranky deflections of “What does this mean?”–type questions, is about to embark on a trolling expedition through the most tediously literal-minded era of film and TV fandom — a period in which social-media users and media outlets (including this one) fall over themselves to parse the microscopic details of mythology-rich shows, and producers participate in “exit interviews” and electronic press-kit sit-downs, live tweets and liveblogs, Facebook videos, and Reddit AMAs.
I mean, I remember all of us in college sitting around talking about "what does the dancing dwarf mean?" and so forth, when in the end all you can really do is let it be what it is and sit in wonderment at it. But like he says there, the internet these days is crazy with the minutia-loving obsessives with competing fan-wikis.... Whatever the reaction to the new series is, it's gonna be magnified to the nth degree. Which could be fine, or it could be really annoying.

I like this piece in general, really. It's a good starting point for clearing ones head about the history of the show, so as to be open to whatever happens next.
posted by dnash at 9:31 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


The inhuman screams of Grace Zabriskie on that pilot sealed the deal for me the first time around.

Between this and her recurring role in Seinfeld, Grace Zabriskie's characters have pretty rotten luck with daughters.

(One of the joys of watching Twin Peaks post-1990s is spotting all the character actors who had also appeared in episodes of Seinfeld. The X-Files also shares a good deal of performer DNA with both shows.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:37 AM on May 19


I'm still a little baffled by the resurgence of Twin Peaks. I mean, I guess a love of nostalgia and every generation finding a retro touchstone is obviously nothing new, but I dunno. Twin Peaks is the best and worst of Lynch's excesses. I was 12 when I started watching it, fell in love (despite so much stuff being over my head), and become probably a little unhealthily obsessed with this whole world at that age. I had both book tie-ins, the soundtrack, but I also had the kind of parents who didn't much mind (they've still never seen it).

The Grauniad has a pretty good article about The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, which touches on that the show wasn't just about small town weirdos and the murder of a prom queen. It was deeply about the sexual abuse of a child.
posted by Kitteh at 9:40 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


Now I wonder if I'm the only viewer who just found it charming and weird.

What was your reaction to episode 14, "Lonely Souls", in which Leland Palmer assaults and murders Maddy Ferguson, one of Lynch's most extended scenes of graphic violence? For all the weirdness of Twin Peaks, it never shied away from its central tragedy of a young girl's death (at least not under Lynch).

I mean, I remember all of us in college sitting around talking about "what does the dancing dwarf mean?" and so forth, when in the end all you can really do is let it be what it is and sit in wonderment at it.

Good grief but Lynch took the piss out of that tendency for over-analysis among fans in Fire Walk With Me.

I can't wait for Sunday.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:40 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]


That X-Files reboot being garbage helps keeps my expectations low.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Fire Walk With Me.

That, I have yet to re-watch. Possibly tomorrow night. I saw it once at the time and remember finding it just weird and not good.
posted by dnash at 9:47 AM on May 19


I think this article was kind of stupid but also correct because the rest of the internet writing about this show will be even more stupid
posted by edeezy at 9:49 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


I saw it once at the time and remember finding it just weird and not good.

I think it's a masterpiece of horror filmmaking.
posted by rocketman at 9:57 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


The show spent the first part of its season premiere showing Cooper lying on the floor, summoning all the energy in his damaged body trying to tell an elderly, shuffling bellhop to go get help. The bellhop seemed incapable of understanding what he wanted, much less that Cooper had been shot and would bleed out if help didn’t come soon.

The scene went on and on. And on. And on. It was amusing at first, but then it became maddening. Finally one of my friends muttered, “What the fuck?”


Eesh. How does somebody get that far into the series and have such a boneheaded reaction? That scene had everyone I knew agog with joy. I rewatched it last weekend and still felt like cheering at the third thumbs-up.
posted by Beardman at 9:57 AM on May 19 [11 favorites]


TV audiences *still* aren't ready for that kind of raw emotion

See, this is what I was talking about. The word "ready" somewhat implies that there's some kind of maturity one must achieve, and that not appreciating that moment indicates some kind of deficiency.

It's possible that not appreciating so much raw emotion is the product of experience, that having a certain amount of exposure to real-life emotion makes it distasteful in art.

I'm not meaning to pick on this comment -- "ready" could be a non-maturity-related state, or the commenter could have meant something else.

However, the different ways people experience and perceive works like this one are very relevant, I think, in a world where class differences are pushed out into thousands of tiny misunderstandings, judgments, and conflicts, which are starting to accumulate and become more and more serious.
posted by amtho at 10:02 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Expectation going into the article:
I bet this is someone who is upset that other people didn't like the ending of Lost.

The article:
But the truth is, whenever any otherwise compelling popular TV artist throws us a truly startling curveball — as the creators of The Sopranos, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica did — the tendency is to proclaim that it was pretty good until it “jumped the shark” or “shat the bed” or otherwise stopped being good.
posted by Pyry at 10:03 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


How does somebody get that far into the series and have such a boneheaded reaction?

Different life experience.

Also, the reaction was not "boneheaded".
posted by amtho at 10:03 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


And when it becomes clear that a series isn’t terribly interested in narrative housekeeping, and in fact has to remind itself to give a damn about that kind of thing, the popular audience tends to run the other way, because they don’t know how to process it.

I wonder about that. After having watched all available episodes of Rick and Morty this weekend, I read a couple of the AV Club's writeups of the show, including that for the third season premiere. It … is an interesting exercising in treating a show that clearly has no interest in characterological consistency or development as if it did. Like, (SPOILERS if you care, incidentally), at the end of the last episode of the second season, Rick, listening in on his family, seemsseems morose, and affectless, and has no one to be performing for—then at the end of the 3rd season premiere, he says, "ha! I had this crazy plan all along!"—and the recapper is just like, "hm, well, I guess that's what it was all along, what a crazy turnaround, huh, I guess the emotions were faked at the end of the second season, huh oh gee", even though that makes zero sense—whereas it's just as likely that the explanation is that Justin Roiland doesn't care about telling a particularly consistent story with characters that develop in a recognizable way over time, except as and when he feels like it. (Looking at literally any of his other productions would support this, btw.)

Point being, internet show-watching seems to me to have such a strongly developed culture, and such a strongly developed hermeneutic approach, that it can proceed with complete blitheness in the face of a show not really particularly tractable by those means, just steamrolling over the actual show.
posted by kenko at 10:11 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I think there's a lot of genuinely interesting questions to be asked about how audiences variously react to some of the more idiosyncratic portions of Lynch's work...whether idiosyncratic in terms of the emotional intensity, or the surreal-ity, or the deliberately patience testing pace, or all three. Exploring how class informs those reactions might be fascinating.

Getting bogged down by the word "ready" or the phrase "run the other way" doesn't seen to further the discussion, though. There's got be some way of expressing the plain fact that some people just don't care for non-linear expressionism getting mixed up in their murder mystery narratives if you want to talk about that fact. Saying that "they weren't ready" may betray some unconscious assumptions, but I don't think it merits condemnation for elitism.
posted by Ipsifendus at 10:20 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


From that guy's keyboard to God's ear.

I love Twin Peaks, and I've loved it more every time I've watched it. I was actually pretty excited when Lynch threatened to quit the project a while back because of a disagreement with the producers. Because I just assumed it had something to do with them pressuring him to make it about fan service, and he refused.

It's embarrassing how long it took me to figure out what that Firewalk with Me scene Doktor Zed linked was about. For the longest time, I just thought it was just bad, until I was stewing about some absurdly simplistic fan interpretation, and it hit me that it was a meta simplistic analogy responding to simplistic analogies.

So I hope we're both right about that. I hope it disappoints anyone who is expecting a bunch of one-to-one analogie and linear storylines with all the plot points tied up at the end. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, until it starts swallowing up everything to the point that people think that things that don't conform to that model are somehow wrong or inferior.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:30 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


When the show broadcast I was 23, and viewed it as a mix of horror, surrealism, and parody. I didn't take the emotional expressions as serious.

Reviewing it last year, I was blown away by the white-hot emotions. Now they seem straightforward.
posted by doctornemo at 10:36 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Well if liking this thing is going to depend on not thinking Lost and BSGs dumb bullshit was dumb I'm probably gonna give it a miss TBH. Or possibly what this article actually comes down to is a defence of the authors love of chain-yanking mystery box shit as always being good art.
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


You cut them up just like regular series.
posted by flabdablet at 10:58 AM on May 19 [9 favorites]


You cut them up just like regular series.

Strangest damn things...but they're NEW!
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:03 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I think Lynch is a try-hard. There, I said it.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 11:23 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


The guy's been marching to the beat of his own drum and not giving a shit for how long now? If that's a try-hard, I gotta try harder myself.
posted by Beardman at 11:28 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Saying that "they weren't ready" may betray some unconscious assumptions, but I don't think it merits condemnation for elitism.

Not condemnation, more a gentle nudge away from phrasing like that and toward more accuracy. Noticing this kind of thing and steering away from it before it becomes a big deal would be so, so great.
posted by amtho at 11:30 AM on May 19


There's a core to Lynchian mysteries, a core that doesn't exist in mystery box narratives. Abrams, at the risk of his livelihood, could learn a lot from Mulholland.

Shoot, Abrams probably takes knocks for his mystery box narratives because he's such a panderer to start with. Lynch rarely makes that mistake.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 11:52 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


You know what I'd like, while we're at it? A Northern Exposure reboot.
posted by witchen at 12:20 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


Well if liking this thing is going to depend on not thinking Lost and BSGs dumb bullshit was dumb

The invocation of "Lost" and BSG as examples of audiences turning away from idiosyncratic material was easily the weakest part of the article. What happened there, in both cases, was audiences turning away from half-baked pseudo-profound nonsense. On the other hand, I don't think the underlying argument is completely wrong either. "Mulholland Dr." was pretty high profile for a David Lynch movie, but still didn't draw nearly as many ticket sales as, say, "A Beautiful Mind", released that same year.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:24 PM on May 19


The whole "Whoo, more Twin Peaks!! Twin Peaks mood boards!!" thing kills me on a certain level because as mentioned upthread the story at its heart is about abuse and trauma, I feel like I am interested in seeing how a David Lynch who has done Inland Empire (which btw rules, and I feel like the author of this piece is being dense about) cares to revisit the Twin Peaks space, but I am not holding my breath because omg twin peaks mood board!!! Omg witch house!!!

It's a good time to revisit the David Foster Wallace article about David Lynch circa Lost Highway I think.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 12:35 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


This article feels like its very existence refutes the thesis it's supposedly based on, which is obviously really a vehicle for the author to gush about Twin Peaks. They are right about a lot, though; I loved Twin Peaks, but it is messy and inconsistent. I still don't really understand why everyone gushes over the first season and poo-poos the second, but there is considerably more consistency in the first even if it's the second that finally becomes interesting.

I have mixed feelings about Lynch. I think he's a bit of a sham and his reputation is overblown. He's also said some creepily misogynist things. At the same time, he's pretty honest about why and how he makes films, and can make some genuinely unsettling films when he knuckles down and really tries. Eraserhead, Inland Empire and bits of Twin Peaks are horror gold. Or horror gold spray, which is somehow worse. Part of what makes them work (and especially Twin Peaks) is that there are these identifiable themes and events going on, rather than just a string of nonsense that viewers project on and pretend has hidden profundity. As the article notes, Twin Peaks is at heart about a collision between deep grief and High Weirdness, with every bit player in town getting caught up in it somehow.

Anyway, I'm not actually too worried about Twin Peaks. I'm anti-sequels, anti-reboots, etc, but somehow just unborthered by the idea of a new season. If it's being done for the sake of a joke, all the better. I imagine most people will eat it up, spit it out and move onto the next thing like everything else, but I'd be surprised if it got poor reception for being true to itself.

Also

The autistic hive-mind of the internet will probably flip its shit over uncertainty.

Please don't do this.
posted by byanyothername at 12:58 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


I think my expectations for this series are properly calibrated. If it can capture that peculiar balance of human menace (balanced by human goodness), natural menace (I still find those occasional shots of huge fog-shrouded mountains and windblown trees effectively unsettling) and supernatural menace that the original did, I'll be basically happy. I think returning to the setting with a lot of the same cast and the original creators at the helm will go a long way to accomplishing that. On the other hand I don't really expect it to be anything like the original series.

And it will probably make me feel very old.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 3:30 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, it's pretty amazing for a show to end with a cliffhanger episode in which a character says "I'll see you in 25 years" and then actually pick up again with the next season 25 real-world years later.

I'm pretty interested to see what they'll do with where they left Dale Cooper at the end of that last episode. Unless they ignore it or show in a flashback it was dealt with a long time ago, that's an incredibly dark place to pick up his character 25 years later.
posted by straight at 3:59 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I think the part that often gets ignored is that Laura Palmer was a 2nd generation sexual abuse survivor: Leland was also molested as a child, by whomever BOB inhabited at that time, because BOB has always been a spirit/demon.
posted by gsh at 4:48 PM on May 19 [6 favorites]


I think Lynch is a try-hard. There, I said it.

there's no shame in being wrong my friend; this is a safe space.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:13 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


The inhuman screams of Grace Zabriskie on that pilot sealed the deal for me the first time around.

There's also the principal breaking down as he's trying to announce what happened, and Donna's reaction.


This is the brilliance of that pilot episode. Four or five characters, including Laura's mother, father, best friend, find out that Laura is dead purely through inference. No one tells them "Laura is dead"; they are able to infer this fact from a look, another person's pained face, a telephone call...they've been on edge and have been expecting something to happen for who knows how long, so the few clues they get are enough. It's damn good writing.
posted by zardoz at 2:32 AM on May 20 [6 favorites]


I just hope that the producers, directors, writers, and actors pay no attention to online kibitzers. That crap ruined Lost, X Files, and myriad science fiction and fantasy tv shows. Now, these shows might have been doomed anyways, but at least they wouldn't been doomed by college sophomores, microbrew aficionados, and the ilk.

Do you hear me, tv people? DON'T LISTEN TO US! #dontbetrump
posted by Chitownfats at 5:22 AM on May 20




I think the part that often gets ignored is that Laura Palmer was a 2nd generation sexual abuse survivor: Leland was also molested as a child, by whomever BOB inhabited at that time, because BOB has always been a spirit/demon.

I tend to read Bob's nature a little differently. He's a spirit, yeah, but he's not a spirit that "posseses" in the simplistic sense of that word. It's more that he's a spirit of the specific evil of child abuse. He has the appearance that he does for the Palmer family because that's the appearance of Leland's abuser, who was in all likelihood just an ordinary human being.
posted by Ipsifendus at 10:56 AM on May 20


This report from the premiere gives one hope. The guy who linked it (such that I saw it) on Facebook said he's hoping for 18 hours of Inland Empire and thinks we might even get it.
posted by kenko at 4:11 PM on May 21


It's going to be wall to wall bunnies, isn't it?
posted by Artw at 5:32 PM on May 21


Only one ep in, and I assume all the really discussion has shifted to FanFare, but I really don't think the article's concerns are going to be a problem.
posted by Artw at 6:02 AM on May 22


My thoughts, rot13ed for spoiler protection:

va gur fgne jnef cerdhryf, vs lbh ybbx pybfryl, Wne Wne nyjnlf unf n obare. Rirel fprar.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:13 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but that spoiler applies to all three seasons. And also to every other television show and movie, as well as real life. Spoils everything, it does.

Na Bhenat-Bhgnat qvq gur zheqref va gur Ehr Zbethr, nsgre juvpu vg zbirq gb Nynfxn naq orpnzr n yhzorewnpx.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:42 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


good god!
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:50 AM on May 22


Rot13 is inappropriate for Twin Peaks Spoilers. Instead, you need to type your spoiler backwards, record yourself reading it phonetically aloud, then transcribe the recording while playing it backwards.
posted by straight at 1:25 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Daur tev adur eeslookeh sfatair!
posted by straight at 1:29 PM on May 22


« Older How and Why Has "Mr Brightside" Never Left the UK...   |   Gonna need you to stay logged in today bro. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments