When Twin Peaks first aired in 1990, I was 11 and my sister was 15. It was the show she watched with her friends and therefore the show I was definitely not allowed to watch which only made me want to watch it more.
I would hear her on the phone saying: “that’s a damn fine cup of coffee,” and laughing, and I needed to know what that meant. Being 11, I assumed it was something gross to do with boys and I was right, in a way, only that boy was a man called Dale Cooper.
When my sister’s friends came over they would shut themselves away in her room and I could hear the eerie Twin Peaks theme music through the door. I sat outside her room for most of my childhood, wanting to be let it to watch this magical, mysterious show she and her friends were obsessed with. I was personally obsessed with Beverly Hills 90210 at the time, which they thought was lame. It wasn’t lame though. It was everything to an awkward British girl that dreamed of being a cool kid from California. My dad even got me the fragrance one Christmas, because there was a perfume, only I didn’t have the heart to tell him then I had moved on to more serious shows like Twin Peaks. I can only imagine it smelled of broken dreams.
I couldn’t bear it though, being shut out of another thing, the permanent default setting of the little sister. I knew I had to watch this show.
I thought if I could just see Twin Peaks I would be cool and my sister and her friends would let me hang out with them. I would be in on their jokes. I could say things like that’s a damn fine cup of coffee and know what it meant. I might even try coffee. Twin Peaks was this gateway to this new cool me, spoiler alert, I’m still searching for that.
So I begged my parents for a TV for my room and because I was a good girl then they said I could have one if I promised to not watch anything after 9pm (because of course we know that after 9pm is when all the good stuff is on); the TV watershed was invented purely to taunt preteens like myself.
So I got a cute little TV for my room, and to be honest we became best friends, my TV and I. Me and my sister only became best friends a lot later, when I was no longer permanently lurking outside her door. I learnt boundaries and now we’re besties.
So I got my TV and I got some headphones and my whole world opened up. Adults were messed up was my conclusion after accidentally watching some Dallas, but I do admit that the whole, “it was all a dream” storylines, is still one of my favourite TV tropes. I am also very wary of oil barons which is fine because I don’t meet many in my day to day life. But Twin Peaks, that was a whole other level of messed up.
And I blame my parents and it is justified this time. They should have realised that I wanted that TV for evil and not good. I clearly didn’t want it for watching The Gummi Bears in the morning. I clearly wanted it for watching disturbing late night adult stuff. And not even sex stuff but weird surreal, “wtf” stuff.
I had no idea what to make of Twin Peaks at first, this show that other people, namely my sister and her friends, loved so much. It made me feel things I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to be feeling. I was supposed to be starting to feel tingly for boys or girls or a sport or a popstar or just get really into recycling. I had friends that were already obsessed with saving the planet and this was way back when we didn’t even know how truly fucked it was.
But Twin Peaks stirred something in me that I now know was always there—a love of the weird. I’m pretty sure Twin Peaks unlocked my freak flag and I have been flying it ever since.
I don’t think I ever got that image of Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic out of my head. Thank god for the Log Lady, she was my kind of crazy person. I don’t think I ever went past a log without wanting to ask it something or hug it after that. I told you, I was now officially weird.
Killer Bob was obviously terrifying, but if I’m honest I watched most of his scenes through my fingers (as should you have). What I found truly disturbing though, and that has stayed with me all these years, was poor Josie being trapped in that doorknob. I mean that’s some messed up shit. My partner thought I had OCD and I had to explain that it was a more specific Twin Peaks related OCD, whereby I have to check all doorknobs for girls: wardrobes for Narnia, doorknobs for people.
My partner is a little younger so he didn’t watch the show when it was originally on. Part of our courtship involved me making him watch at least the first few seasons and Fire Walk With Me. It was an initiation of sorts. You must watch these if you are to understand my weirdness and more importantly my occasional night terrors where I think you are a donut.
In my quest for my sister’s attention and love then Twin Peaks fucked me up good. Which I now know was David Lynch’s goal. He is an evil genius.
I watch the new series with my partner but my heart is with my sister. I think back to little me sitting outside her door or me listening to it through my headphones, smooshed up to my TV in the dark, worrying that I was basically transmitting nightmares into my body that would never go away. They have never gone away.
Watching Twin Peaks now isn’t even about the show, it’s about being connected to my sister and this younger version of myself. Like most people I’m not immune to the power of nostalgia. TV now is very much about being part of something bigger and I think I knew that all along.
Thankfully now I can watch it with the lights on, as should you.
Lucie Britsch has been published in Volume1Brooklyn, Catapult, Splitlip, The Millions and Five2One, and has two honourable mentions from Glimmer Train. She says her writing won’t change the world but it might make someone laugh.