Why I’m Not Excited about a Revival of Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks was a product of its time. Debuting in 1990, it was up against an awful lot of network TV nonsense. It was trailblazing in a lot of ways. But it simply doesn’t hold up.

The years in which Twin Peaks aired were remarkably conformist ones. The first Bush presidency was a frighteningly corporate time, in which supposed invasions of liberation in Panama and Iraq played out like cynical TV events, while the news refused to cover the brutal massacres associated with both wars. In the wake of the Reagan Revolution, there was almost no protest culture. Music was dominated by the likes of soulless hair bands, and Madonna was continuously controversial because she wasn’t scared of sex. The alternative music movement didn’t go mainstream until Nirvana’s 1991 Nevermind and R.E.M.’s 1992 Automatic for the People.

Television was equally conformist. Drama was still dominated by things like 21 Jump Street and Mancuso, F.B.I. Miami Vice only came to an end in 1989, and Law and Order debuted in 1990. Baywatch was just getting started. Outside of the syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation, TV sci-fi was represented by shows like Quantum Leap, Alien Nation, and Knight Rider 2000. Seinfeld debuted in 1989, but TV comedy was still dominated by shows closer to Alf, Mama’s Family, and Newhart – all of which came to an end in 1990. Full House and Family Matters were big successes, and In Living Color seemed like a remarkable breath of fresh air. It was in this context that The Simpsons, which debuted at the very end of 1989, was seen as transgressive; people thought a kid who said “eat my shorts” was outrageous. Soon, we’d all be discussing whether Murphy Brown was literally destroying the American family by featuring an intelligent, successful woman having a child without a man around. Reality TV was just getting started, with shows like Rescue 911, and original programming on cable TV was remarkably limited.

It was in this context that Twin Peaks felt like a revelation. You could literally watch the most tired sort of network pabulum, and then watch a moody show that could end with the characters talking backwards and dancing with a midget.

People loved Twin Peaks because it was so different. I know. I was there. And I was a Twin Peaks fan. I even bought all the merchandise.

This isn’t to minimize what Twin Peaks represented. Managed by David Lynch, Twin Peaks was an early example of movie people working on television, previously seen as not only beneath motion pictures but as toxic to movie careers even through association. The show as shot more like a movie, with an evocative soundtrack. Originally, the show was organized around a detective’s rather unconventional and even existential investigation into the murder of the young and beautiful Laura Palmer, but this was really an excuse to showcase the bizarre residents of the show’s small-town Washington state setting.

Of course, the show didn’t last. The show was a phenomenon, largely because it was so different, but it largely eschewed the basics of character and plot. Subplots went nowhere; hell, the supposed “main” plot went nowhere, and there was no conventional character arc in sight. To say an awful lot on Twin Peaks made no sense would be charitable, but that wasn’t supposed to matter because the characters were so quirky and the sequences so interesting. And to be fair, several sequences were very interesting. But this was a continuing narrative, and as time went on, it became clear the show had contempt for the rudiments of narrative.

In many ways, these same descriptions largely apply to Lynch’s movies. But this wasn’t going to be a successful formula for network television, back when network viewership still represented significant percentages of the entire American population.

After ratings declined in the second season, ABC began to meddle. Many mocked the show for how long it took to solve the murder at the center of the show, so ABC had that solved – although the solution was pretty incoherent. The show had always flirted with soap operatic elements, especially with its quirky characters having sex and threatening each other. But by the show’s ending, any sense of parody was stripped away, leaving the show simply a slightly offbeat but truly terribly written soap opera.

If that was what you wanted, Beverly Hills 90210, which also debuted in 1990, was a lot better written, despite its far more conventional setting, characters, and plot. Sure, it was conventional, and it had no interest in challenging storytelling conventions. But at least it was coherent.

Northern Exposure also debuted in 1990. Like Twin Peaks, it featured an offbeat setting: rural Alaska, in the case of Northern Exposure. Its characters also had quirks, but they were more likely to be odd hobbies or mannerisms than murderous conspiracies. Northern Exposure also encountered the strange and unexpected, but characters might look out their window and see a moose wandering the streets, rather than a midget or someone drenched in blood. The show originally focused on a big-city doctor experiencing culture shock, but it shifted towards its eccentric larger cast. No one was magically transported to bizarre locations, and there was no secret prostitution or murder ring. Maybe this was less ambitious than Twin Peaks, but plots didn’t spin off uncontrollably, and Northern Exposure wound run running six seasons instead of Twin Peaks’s two.

Twin Peaks was followed in 1992 by a movie, subtitled Fire Walk with Me, which was panned by critics. It was both a prequel to the TV series and a sequel, jumping around in time, explaining some aspects of the series that were unexplained while changing others. Some fans of the series loved it; others hated it. Critics mostly hated it, finding the movie unrelentingly bleak. Those unfamiliar with the TV series needed footnotes to understand the movie’s many otherwise unexplained scenes, yet the movie couldn’t hope to wrap up all the dangling characters and subplots from the TV series.

Twin Peaks may be seen as one of those splendid failures, a noble experiment that crashed and burned. The show is neither coherent nor, if we’re honest with ourselves, actually very good, by almost any rubric one could devise. Its history was truncated and distorted. It doesn’t really work as a story or actually make sense. It contains a lot that’s evocative, and it’s certainly earned its place in TV history. But history is filled with TV shows and other artistic works that, while greatly influential, aren’t excellent, satisfying, or even complete as works of art.

Ultimately, Twin Peaks is a product of an era in which Ross Perot could become a sensation as an eccentric independent candidate in the 1992 election… before dropping out, while referring to wild conspiracies… before returning and ultimately winning a sizable chunk of the electorate. Ross Perot could have been a character on Twin Peaks. And he’s a symptom of how hungry America was, in those years, for something different. We were so hungry that a candidate like Ross Perot, who occasionally babbled incoherently while referring to charts and graphs, seemed like he might represent a legitimate new direction. And that’s what Twin Peaks was too.

Today, we live in a very different era. Cable TV dominates, and it’s provided room for a lot of artistic shows with offbeat settings. Movie stars and directors aren’t shy about associating with television anymore. Many shows relish in lavish cinematography and original scores that puts Twin Peaks to shame. The way the show relished launching evocative subplots, while rarely resolving anything, has become so commonplace through shows like Lost that it’s become a cliché. Even the idea of an unconventional detective investigating the brutal murder of a young girl has been redone, perhaps most successfully on the first season of True Detective.

As a result, we can look back and see Twin Peaks as a kind of trailblazer. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of confusing this with retroactively evaluating Twin Peaks as better than it was. It can’t begin to stand next to True Detective, or any number of prestige TV shows that have come and gone. You can blame this on increased budgets and how ABC interfered with Twin Peaks, but the show’s problems were there all along. Its cache stems largely from the fact that it debuted in 1990, when nothing like it was on American TV, thus allowing the show to be ahead of its time.

Well, that and the fact that it was made by David Lynch. Here too, it’s impossible to separate Twin Peaks from Lynch. In the 1980s, Lynch could also seem like a breath of fresh air. In retrospect, the 1980s was when Lynch made his most conventional narrative films, including 1980’s The Elephant Man, 1984’s Dune, and 1986’s Blue Velvet. After this, Lynch would shift away from narrative cohesion, which was actually a regression back towards his first film, 1977’s Eraserhead. He isn’t interested in telling a story, or in character as we understand it; he’s far more interested in evoking, and there’s a place for that. But his movies, like 2001’s Mulholland Drive, tend to be incoherent messes that are largely boring outside of a few key, visual or intellectually compelling sequences.

I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. I was horrified by our grandpa president and his incoherent utterances, his impeachable criminality, and his ignorance about nuclear war. And I still vividly remember waking up and going to “early bird” gym class, the day after the Gulf War had started on schedule, exactly like a TV series, and thinking that everyone, whether for or against, would be talking about it. Instead, I couldn’t provoke anyone to care that our country was at war. I remember going to stores that rented video tapes and discovering Lynch, along with plenty of other oddball stuff. I also remember sitting with my friends and sharing music on cassette tapes, and feeling like mainstream music held absolutely nothing for us until alternative and grunge appeared. In this context, David Lynch was a revelation. And so was Twin Peaks.

But that’s not our world anymore. It hasn’t been for a long, long time, if it really ever was. Once I got to college, I discovered movies like 1982’s Koyaanisqatsi, which could eschew character and conventional narrative but still tell a kind of story – and which were far more visually compelling than Lynch’s films. Terrence Malick returned to directing in 1998, and his movies tend to be unconventional narratives that are far more wildly ambitious and beautiful and evocative and coherent thematic explorations than anything Lynch has produced. If you like stuff that takes you on a journey, even if not all the pieces fit together, there you go. Half of Soderbergh’s movies do the same thing, albeit with a bit more of a traditional focus on narrative and character. All of the themes for which Lynch is most famous, and which Twin Peaks explored, have been done better than others. Lynch’s use of eccentric and violent characters seems passé in a world in which Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is now over 20 years old; Tarantino has since produced several far superior films using such characters. Lynch’s fascination with the underbelly of rural America felt like a gut punch to Reagan’s absurd fetish for a 1950s picket-fence America that never existed, but rural America is rarely depicted anymore except with such underbellies. Today, Mad Men can feature a hallucinatory musical sequence, and it’s worth discussion but is neither shocking nor revolutionary.

The real function of David Lynch, if we’re honest, is as a cultural touchstone. In the same way that liking Woody Allen used to signal that someone was an intellectual, liking David Lynch used to indicate that someone was artistic. Mentioning David Lynch had nothing to do with the filmmaker or his work. It was a way of telling whether you were talking to someone who was open to different or unconventional kinds of art. If you mentioned David Lynch, half the people I knew in high school or college would say they loved his work, and I doubt many of them had seen much of his work, let alone like it. While it was airing, Twin Peaks was the kind of show most of my friends would list in their top TV shows, because they thought they should or because this lent artistic credibility to themselves and their other choices, but these same people mostly didn’t watch or enjoy Twin Peaks. If you wanted to signal that you weren’t a conformist and that you had disdain for most mainstream movies, all you had to do was praise David Lynch. And really, being such a touchstone is a remarkable accomplishment. But it shouldn’t be confused with producing good art, let alone good stories.

Today, Lynch is still such a touchstone, although I’d argue that Lynch, as a cultural signifier, now means something very different. It’s still a test. But outside of tentpole, big-budget, Hollywfood movies, there’s not much of artistic mainstream to rail against. Technology has fractured entertainment into a thousand niches. Meanwhile, the right might worship Reagan more than Jesus, but their kids have tattoos and piercings, and plenty of them list themselves as bisexual in dating profiles whether they are or aren’t. We elected Clinton in 1992, the year Fire Walk with Me came out, and the Clintons have had to run away from that presidency because it was absurdly far-right by today’s standards. Lynch always existed in opposition, but our choices have expanded so that it’s not a spectrum, with bland conformism on one side and artsy-fartsy crap no one really likes on the other – make your choice. Instead, there’s a wide array of choices, which leaves Lynch precisely nowhere… except as an indicator of whether one confuses incoherence with art.

A lot of people do. A lot of smart people do. Go to an academic conference, and you’ll hear an awful lot of theoretical jargon that doesn’t illuminate anything. In fact, when you know the jargon and decode what’s being said, it’s often remarkably simply and often actually at obvious odds with the subject being discussed. But such jargon makes simple observations seem complex and deep, and many people assume that if they don’t understand something, it must be intelligent.

And that’s what Lynch signifies: whether you can see through a few thematic lines of dialogue, and a few intoxicating visuals, to realize there’s no much there.

Lynch and his movies haven’t changed. If you asked me or my friends, back in the day, what we liked about Lynch, the top answer was always that he was different. My friends who still like Lynch today would by and large give the same answer. It’s just that we have more options now, in which it’s possible to be both different and good. Those who still praise Lynch tend to be people who confuse the two.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still a virtue in being different. I’m glad Lynch is still making art. I’m not someone who gets mad that art I don’t care for exists. And if you really enjoy Lynch, that’s awesome. I mean that. I am glad whenever people enjoy art, even if it’s art I think isn’t very good, or is too mainstream, or is dumb, or is faux-artistic, or anything else. I’m pro-joy and pro-art.

But a revival of Twin Peaks? Sure, it’s a classic TV show, and there have been revivals of both Dallas and 90210, so why not? But Twin Peaks is so rooted in its time, in a particular cultural moment that’s long since passed. And there’s neither a story that needs to be continued nor a sense of untapped potential that might be captured this time around. If anything, Lynch wanted to avoid wrapping up plotlines more than ABC forced him to, and Lynch’s most fondly remembered movies were his most commercial 1980s ones, on which he was at least forced to bow to the idea of narrative.

But who knows? Perhaps Lynch has finally found his medium, and the diversity and creative freedom of cable TV is now so great that it has a place for Lynch, alongside dozens of other interesting shows. Perhaps Twin Peaks deserves revival, now that we’re in a cable-TV environment more in tune with the original show’s intentions. I’m sure the result will be more interesting than several critically acclaimed but overrated shows. I’d certainly prefer a new season of Twin Peaks to, I don’t know, another batch of Blue Bloods episodes, or of far worse nonsense like Wife-Swapping Bootleggers (I made that up). But with due respect, that can’t be the standard. There’s no reason to suspect the result will actually be good, and there’s no reason to want to see more Twin Peaks.

Besides, isn’t getting excited about a beloved but outdated show’s revival, purely on that basis, a product of the kind of corporate-worshiping culture that people like Twin Peaks for going against?

Now, a remake of Wild Palms? That I might get cautiously excited about. Someone tell Showtime.

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In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

See more, including free online content, on .

Also by Julian Darius:

This Lightning, This Madness: Understanding Alan Moore\'s Miracleman, Book One


Stories out of Time and Space, Vol. 1


The Library of Metroplex: Essays on the Transformers


Because We are Compelled: How Watchmen Interrogates the Comics Tradition


Judging Dredd: Examining the World of Judge Dredd


Somewhere Beyond the Heavens: Exploring Battlestar Galactica


The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe



A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe


Classics on Infinite Earths: The Justice League and DC Crossover Canon


executive producer

New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics



executive producer

When Manga Came to America: Super-Hero Revisionism in Mai, the Psychic Girl


a short documentary on Chris Claremont's historic run and its influence

executive producer

Warren Ellis: The Captured Ghosts Interviews


Voyage in Noise: Warren Ellis and the Demise of Western Civilization


Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitan


The Weirdest Sci-Fi Comic Ever Made: Understanding Jack Kirby\'s 2001: A Space Odyssey


The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil


Everything and a Mini-Series for the Kitchen Sink: Understanding Infinite Crisis


Revisionism, Radical Experimentation, and Dystopia in Keith Giffen\'s Legion of Super-Heroes


And the Universe so Big: Understanding Batman: The Killing Joke


a feature-length documentary film on celebrated comics writer Warren Ellis

executive producer

Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide


Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen


a documentary on the life and work of celebrated comics writer Grant Morrison

executive producer

Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes


Improving the Foundations: Batman Begins from Comics to Screen


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  1. Another great article Julian, reading this while enjoying a nice cup of black coffee was the perfect way to start my Sunday. It’s nice to see the opinions of someone who was actually around when Twin Peaks first aired all those years ago and still has strong memories about it (my parents watched it when it first aired they ate pie and drank coffee while watching), as whenever I share the series with someone I always have to add a footnote of “Remember it was 1989 things were different in the world.” As could be expected the majority of my social circle falls into the same category as I do, people who discovered the series in their late teens early 20s and devoured it like a soul trapped in the Black Lodge. I’ve always thought that being a fan of something means you can praise it for what it succeeds at but also accept where it stumbles, and Twin Peaks is very much that for me, it has some really awesome moments but fails spectacularly at others, and while I love the ambiguity of some stuff I get how it isn’t for everyone. I’m cautious on how I feel about the new episodes of the show (if they ever get made) just as I’m cautious about a sequel to my favorite movie, Blade Runner, being made. Will I watch them? Most definitely. Do I think they need to be made? Not really.

    I’m not sure if this comment really has a point, didn’t really have a plan, and now it’s gotten all rambly like a midseason 2 episode where we are left wondering just where James Harley, his giant forehead, and his motorcycle are going.

    • I love what you wrote here, Max. I think your experience isn’t far from mine. There’s some iconic pieces and aspects to Twin Peaks. For me, those stumbling moments you acknowledge just started to outweigh the good as I got older. I also think (from my perspective) that I got better at analyzing art, and to this day I have a kind of structuralist view, in which I like everything in its place, so foreshadowing is done right and even placed in the appropriate spot to create mirroring effects. I still dig some wild, uncontrolled art, but Twin Peaks wasn’t really that — nor is Lynch generally. Eventually, I just got to a place where the whole of Twin Peaks collapsed for me, and I felt like it was an unclothed emperor. The good bits I remembered and loved didn’t support the whole structure.

      One thing I realize is that I still like silly or wild stories. I like a lot of John Waters, for example. But there’s little pretense to a kind of structure, or some secret depth that’s hinted at in mysterious scene after mysterious scene. (I’m really reminded of Lost here.) So I can judge a work based on what it’s trying to do. Twin Peaks, it seems to me, wants to have these mysterious depths, but they don’t pay off. Even the (original) Laura Palmer resolution wasn’t satisfying to me; it was more like, “OK, let’s give a resolution.” I often feel, with Lynch, like he should just abandon these traditional narrative structures altogether, and then I’d be able to enjoy a loose, evocative, winding storyline or collection of elements a lot better. But when you evoke storyline, or certain structures, you’ve got to fulfill them or break them knowingly and smartly, and I don’t think Twin Peaks really does that.

      Like I said, I do think there’s room to regard Twin Peaks as a splendid failure, a noble experiment, that’s not resolved or that fails to cohere but that’s evocative and different. I think I’m very close to that view myself. We both grew up with the show. I just wound up realizing that the stuff that had always bugged me was actually bad, not just something I didn’t understand; it felt off because it was off. So I maybe would up on the other side, in terms of our evaluation of the show, but I think we had a very shared experience and see a lot of the same things.

      Thanks for your comment, Max!

  2. Julian, you ignorant slut!

    Anywho, I can only agree that there are some bad, totally forgettable moments (e.g. when the soap-opera spoofing turned into actual, full-fledged soap opera-ness… oh, and the motorcycle odyssey to nowhere.)

    But the good not only outweighs the bad, it CRUSHES it: the Black / White Lodge stuff and the inter-dimensional creatures that inhabit it alone make the show worthwhile.

    Oh, and the critics can “pan” FIRE WALK WITH ME, but it’s an amazing and creepy movie, and it’s allowed to be unrelentingly bleak; it’s about the last days of a troubled, haunted teen. Fuck critics.

    I feel so bad for you that your opinion is so wrong. There’s still time to fix it, though ; )

    • Great article Julian. I only just finished season one and half no opinion yet, but this is hilarious. If we had an upvote system…

    • LOL. Well, Mike, again, I’m glad you like the show. I think we probably agree on it a little more than it may seem. I do see some good, and you do acknowledge some bad.

      I do agree with “fuck critics.” I dig the “last days of a troubled, haunted teen” idea. But there’s stuff in that movie that’s not well done, and I think it’s a bit messy.

      But whatever. Like I said above, I’m glad you dig the show and that it does something for you. Inter-dimensional creatures don’t automatically do a lot for me, especially if I don’t think they’re well-done, but you’re entitled to enjoy what you enjoy.

  3. Brent Holmes says:

    I loved Twin Peaks up until the resolution of who killed Laura Palmer; arguably the point of the show. After that it felt like watching Tales of Twin Peaks; the same cast aimlessly wandering about. Good point about the dearth of quality television when the show initially aired. My DVD set of The Prisoner (acquired shortly after TP finished) was the best TV I’d watched at that point.

    A continuation now does feel reflexive and pointless. But good Dale is still trapped in the Lodge.

    • Yeah, we’ll see. Maybe it’ll be good. I certainly don’t know. I just don’t think the series dates well. I think it’s a big more fondly remembered than actually good. But that’s my opinion.

  4. Look, Julian, we were all there. Once, we were kids and we thought we had to see (or read, or listen or whatever) stuff that was way over our pretentious little heads. We thought we could understand everything, but we weren’t ready for a lot of it. And yet, we fooled ourselves that we liked it, because we knew it was “supposed to be good”, and if we didn’t understand it, hey, it was deep. We used to say and hear a lot of crap. I understand what you’re saying, but I’m adding the age factor because it is relevant. A 15 year-old, no matter how smart, won’t really understand Bergman. S/he simply doesn’t have the emotional tools yet. It’s not just a matter of intelligence, but emotion. Which is why I often defend Marvel and DC for not going too deep. Once, Peter Parker’s problems made more sense than Scenes From a Marriage, and I’m thankful for that. Wish the same for the kids today.

    But give us credit, Julian. As we grow up, it becomes easier to stop fooling ourselves. We want to find stuff that we can understand and that can move us. In fact, we usually only get moved by the stuff we understand. Now, not everybody will get the emotional tools for every work of art. For some reason, we all seem to prefer certain sensibilities over others (so, Godard vs. Truffaut, Leone vs. Peckinpah, Nolan vs. Sarno…) It becomes easier, with time, to understand why we don’t respond to certain works. For instance, I’m convinced that I would like Buñuel (or nunsploitation) a lot more if religion had played any part in my upbringing. It didn’t, and that’s fine, I prefer Stanley Donen.

    This difference in sensibility is why I prefer Twin Peaks over True Detective. Because TP was warm, with genuine affection, and TD is a freak show, not too different than Wife-Swapping Bootleggers. And it takes itself so seriously.

    But look, you don’t care for Twin Peaks, fine. It’s not in your temper. I’m reading you for years, and I’m not surprised. I’m making no effort to change your mind about that.

    My problem is that you’re basically using two arguments that have pissed us off so many times. Haven’t we heard this whole “no one can really like such an incomprehensible mess” line often used against Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Bergman or Joyce? Some people don’t find it so incomprehensible, some people like a mess. It seems pretty clear to me that I like my stuff more messy and less polished than you do. That’s fine. You like Malick, I like Lynch (I don’t even like all Lynch, frankly), and that’s enough.

    The second point is this “it was surpassed” thing. Well, sure. If you don’t care for it. Because that’s all it means. Come on, man, we’re talking about honesty here. It’s not that you don’t like Lynch because he was surpassed by Tarantino. You simply prefer Tarantino. That’s all. Lynch is not your damn good cup of tea, and you don’t need to bring outsiders. Do you think on those terms about the stuff you truly love, about your favorites? (I’m not saying that you can’t see their flaws.)

    Hell, as far as I’m concerned, The Crowd and Menilmontant are still unsurpassed. And they will remain so. Now there’s color and sound and good special effects and the films are longer and the people on them are prettier and they can curse and get naked. However, no matter what you do, those old films still move me so much. What more can I want? And if I watch another movie that moves me with similar themes or techniques, do I have to abandon them? Why the hell would I do that? Hey, I’m a poliamory art lover! I cheat on Alan with Grant!

    But I’m actually not that excited about the new Twin Peaks either. Like Max and Brent, I don’t really see the point of it. But I know that, when I’ll sit down to watch it, I’ll be expecting to love it.

    • Thanks for your comment. I’ll probably watch the new Twin Peaks too. And like I said, I’m glad if people enjoy it and are excited for it.

      I do get what you’re saying, but I would argue there’s a difference between lodging “this is incomprehensible” at, say, Animal Man and at Mulholland Drive. The fact that some people don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s not there. But look, being honest, I understand there are different sensibilities. I have friends who love Lynch, and they tend to also love books and movies that need annotations, and part of their joy is looking this stuff up and “figuring it out.” Sometimes, they can admit the original work isn’t perfect or is messy, but they enjoy it, and they like this process. I don’t mind those annotations — I write them, I read them — but I rarely feel like they make the original better.

      However, I certainly do take your point. Especially about, say, how a religious upbringing changes someone’s interpretation. This is all for the good, and at the end of the day, I’m glad when people dig art, like I said above, even if it’s art I don’t dig myself. That’s cool, and I’m willing to defend things that don’t go too deep but do a good job.

      I do believe that certain evaluations are objective and others are taste. Not everything is subjective. There is such a thing as a well-made story, and some I’ll defend because they’re interesting in other ways, but I’ll admit they’re not well-made. Judging something like a Lynch movie, or Bergman, has to be done a bit differently, but I still don’t think we’re entirely in subjective territory.

      For the record, I don’t think Joyce is incomprehensible. However, I’d say latter Joyce is mostly an exercise in technique; it’s masterful, but largely devoid of meaning (at least in the way we usually construct meaning). I can appreciate Joyce, but I don’t want to read Finnegan’s Wake again, and while some people seem to enjoy it, the reasons I don’t do reveal things about the text.

      Even at the most subjective, we don’t just write “this isn’t for me” or “this is.” We write what we see, and it’s never the full picture, but it’s almost always part of the picture, and that’s instructive to everyone, including me, including when I or others disagree. So while I find most of Lynch (not all) indulgent and unsuccessful, I don’t think what I’m seeing boils down to taste, or at least can be reduced to that, and I don’t think someone praising his work in an intelligent way can be reduced to taste either.

      So yeah, Lynch isn’t my thing. And if he’s more yours, that’s great, and I’m for that. I stand by what I wrote, but I reserve the right to rethink or recant any of it. It represents thoughts that have been percolating for a couple decades, but if they’re wrong, or not the full picture, that’s fine.

      I also am radically in favor of enjoying art. I don’t even think it’s cheating. I like different stuff. There are contradictions there. I like stuff in Lynch. If you like more, that’s awesome! I’m just sharing what I’m seeing, and I think we’re largely on the same page. I don’t think there’s anything I wrote that goes against this “live and let live” approach to artistic consumption.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment! I’m sure we could have a great discussion about this in person. It’s fascinating stuff.

      • Oh, we agree on a lot, Julian. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Even many of your points (like what you said about characters, or rambling suplots), I didn’t touch them because they’re fair game.

        I only have problems with the incomprehensible and the dated tags, which for me don’t really add anything to any discussion. (By incomprehensible, I don’t mean inept storytelling, which is fair game too, but different than what Lynch does.)

      • That’s totally fair, Mario! And I appreciate your comments! I think we’re relatively close on this.

        Ultimately, I’m not upset about new Lynch TV. It could be good. And I like that other people are interested. Personally, I might prefer a new Lynch TV series, but that’s just me. And I personally would prefer Lynch doing slightly less traditional narrative stuff, which I think is his forte. But again, that’s just me. And I’m honestly glad others are excited — and glad if the revival is good!

        Thanks again for your thoughtful comments, Mario!

  5. Brad Sawyer says:

    “Debuting in 1990, it was up against an awful lot of network TV nonsense.”

    Hey, don’t forget “COP ROCK” by that guy who created Hill Street Blues.

    BTW- not all the hairbands were “soulless.” Okay, WINGER and NELSON both were, but you get the point.

    • Point taken about hair bands.

      I only saw one episode of Bochco’s Cop Rock. It was so weird that I kind of dug it. But I’ve never seen another episode or seen it since. I’m sure I’d think it wasn’t good but was kind of a failure in fascinating ways. I’ve wanted to see it again for years, but haven’t found it anywhere.

  6. If you can’t get excited about one of the best directors of all time finally making something new in over a decade, then I don’t know what to say. Twin Peaks or not, the point is, Lynch will be DIRECTING SOMETHING AGAIN. This is a big deal, and very worthy of being “excited.”

    I won’t let your not-excitement get me down. This is the thing I am looking forward to more than anything else in the world.

    But then you write something like “But his movies, like 2001’s Mulholland Drive, tend to be incoherent messes that are largely boring outside of a few key, visual or intellectually compelling sequences.”, which is so dismissive, unengaged with the material, and flat out wrong (hint: it’s not incoherent at all. And neither is Twin Peaks), that I wonder why I even started reading the article in the first place…It’s basically you saying you don’t like my favorite director…so…congrats? I will enjoy new David Lynch material, and you can continue writing negative thoughts from a non-fan, as if that even mattered at all. Personally I am only interested in thinkpieces by people who actually appreciate the work on some level, even while critical of it.

      • Right, because I’m a guy who’s just saying “I don’t like this” — nothing deeper — and everyone else (including, I guess, you in the previous comment) are angels saying that’s fine.

        What I wrote took courage. It’s certainly not popular to say. It’s also stuff I’ve thought about and evolved about over decades. Thanks for representing that as a guy shouting he doesn’t like something.

    • I did point out things I like about Lynch. In the very passage you quote, I qualify what I’m saying with real praise. You quote that and then conclude you’re only interested in critics who do exactly what you quoted me as doing.

      Of course, I’m not a non-fan. I’m an ex-fan. And that process is part of the point of the article. (Not that being a fan is a requisite for criticism; in fact, it’s potentially invalidating of criticism. But whatever.)

      Thanks also for your snarky “hint” there, as if I just haven’t understood, and you’re going to deign to give me a hint.

      It’s fine to say you didn’t enjoy this post. As I’ve repeatedly said above, I’m glad you’re excited “more than anything else in the world” that someone you think is “one of the best directors of all time” is going to do something. I think that’s a little over-the-top, but I’m honestly glad you’re excited.

      What I don’t understand is why you don’t seem able to resist dismissing a smart and thoughtful person who disagrees with you with phrases like “as if that even mattered at all.” The “that” in your phrase represents… thoughts from anyone who isn’t a drooling fan of Lynch? Or is it any criticism or argument?

      I think you started this as a “live and let live, but I’m excited” kind of comment, but it definitely went off the rails.

  7. Readers of the above piece may enjoy this article from Roger Ebert’s site, celebrating the Poetic Logic of Lynch’s films.


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