Twin Peaks is an American television serial drama created by Mark Frost and David Lynch. It follows an investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Its pilot episode was first broadcast on April 8, 1990, on ABC. Seven more episodes were produced, and the series was renewed for a second season that aired until June 10, 1991. The show’s title came from the small, fictional Washington town in which it was set. Exteriors were primarily filmed in the Washington towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, though additional exteriors were shot in southern California. Most of the interior scenes were shot on standing sets in a San Fernando Valley warehouse.
Twin Peaks became one of the top-rated shows of 1990 and was a critical success both nationally and internationally. It captured a devoted cult fan base and became a part of popular culture that has been referenced in television shows, commercials, comic books, video games, films and song lyrics. Declining viewer ratings led to ABC’s insistence that the identity of Laura’s murderer be revealed midway through the second season. The series was followed by a 1992 feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which serves as a prequel to the television series.
The pilot episode was ranked No. 25 on TV Guide’s 1997 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. and the series was included in its 2013 list of 60 shows that were “Cancelled Too Soon”.The series was ranked No. 45 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time in 2002 and, in 2007, it was listed as one of Time’s “Best TV Shows of All-TIME”. Twin Peaks placed No. 49 on Entertainment Weekly’s “New TV Classics” list and No. 12 in their list of the “25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years”.
As with much of Lynch’s other work, notably Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks explores the gulf between the veneer of small-town respectability and the seedier layers of life lurking beneath it. As the series progresses, the inner darkness of characters who initially appeared innocent is revealed and they are seen to lead double lives.
Twin Peaks is consistent with Lynch’s work as a whole in that it is not easily placed within an established genre. Its unsettling tone and supernatural features are consistent with horror films, but its campy, melodramatic portrayal of quirky characters engaged in morally dubious activities reflects a bizarrely comical parody of American soap operas. Like the rest of Lynch’s oeuvre, the show represents an earnest moral inquiry distinguished by both weird humor and a deep vein of surrealism.