In the early ’90s Twin Peaks took the country by storm. It was one of the most buzzed about television shows in America, garnering watch parties, critical acclaim, and record breaking ratings. Everyone wanted to know the answer to the burning question of who killed Laura Palmer? Meanwhile, viewers collectively fell in love with Agent Dale Cooper, as portrayed by a young Kyle MacLachlan.
Television show giants like David Chase (The Sopranos) and Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) cite David Lynch and Mark Frost’s pioneering opus of television as major a inspiration for their own work.
Unfortunately, Twin Peaks came to an abrupt stop, ending on a cliffhanger. For approximately 25 years, fans awaited some kind of continuation of the show. In 2017, the seemingly impossible came true on Showtime with the premiere of Twin Peaks: The Return.
With an aging cast and David Lynch completely free to do as he pleased with the series, skeptics wrinkled their eyebrows at the prospect of this reboot having the ability to enchant audiences at the same degree to which it was capable in 1990.
While Twin Peaks: The Return never came near ratings of 34 million viewers like it did with ABC’s series premiere of the original series, David Lynch enjoyed much critical acclaim.
At the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Lynch received a standing ovation after showing the first two parts of The Return. Upon completion, Twin Peaks: The Return appeared at number one on lists of best television shows of the year for outlets such as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Vulture, Esquire, Collider, Trillist, and The Playlist.
Twin Peaks: The Return challenged viewers, focused on artistry, experimental storytelling, a visual style all its own, and acting performances to be reckoned with. The Return features unorthodox camera movement, vibrant color, experimental animation, black and white sequences, more than 10 musical performances, and it bent the genre. It’s as funny as it is scary, emotionally resonant, and surreal.
To suggest there’s a case to be made for Twin Peaks: The Return being a contender for the Outstanding Limited Series Emmy is a massive understatement. Rather, the groundbreaking, stylistic nature of the series should make it a shoo-in for the nomination and a front runner for most likely to win. Why then is Twin Peaks still something of a dark horse candidate in this category? Moreover, why isn’t Kyle MacLachlan the obvious choice for the Emmy category of Outstanding Lead Actor in A Limited Series or TV Movie?
In 18 episodes, MacLachlan plays numerous versions of the same character. Of course he reprises his role as Agent Dale Cooper, but expands the depth of that character taking on the role of an evil version of Cooper called Mr. C, a near-comatose version of Cooper lovingly referred to as Dougie Jones, a hybrid of the good and evil Cooper called Richard, and a “tulpa” molded specifically after Cooper. Laura Dern is incredible as Diane, and David Lynch himself is getting Emmy buzz for his portrayal of FBI Deputy Director Gordon Cole. Whether or not David Lynch and Mark Frost will take home any awards for directing, writing, or other technical categories also remains oddly ambiguous.
One thing is certain, on July 12, 2018, Emmy nominations will be announced. While the ceremony is largely about spectacle, rather than artistry, an omission of Twin Peaks: The Return is likely to push legitimate television and film critics further away from considering the Emmy Award anything but a popularity contest.