For as long as I’d been an opinionated nerd, I knew that not having seen Twin Peaks was a problem. I was almost through college and it was still a glaring blind spot. “You’ve never seen it? Oh James…” I was used to the shocked looks, the consoling hands on my shoulder, like I had just been dumped.
“It’s on my list,” I would plead. Nerds love lists. They’re weapons, playthings, consolations on lonely nights. We’re ashamed of what we don’t know and overly proud of what we do know. The lists are how we measure it all. This stuff needs to be tracked because it’s important, it really matters. It’s central to our self-worth. Which is why, and it sounds stupid, but by the time I was 18 and in college—not yet an adult nerd, but more than a teenaged dweeb—not having seen Twin Peaks weighed on me.
But then, one sleepy collegiate morning in Somerville, my roommate looked up over his laptop.
“The Brattle’s showing all of Twin Peaks!” My redemption was at hand. Twin Peaks could finally move from my “To Watch List.”
The Brattle Theater in Boston was showing the entire first season in a series of three episode blocks. But did I really want to experience Twin Peaks with a gang of already in-on-it super-fans? And with the Log Lady introductions, as those super-fans excitedly told each other, themselves, and me over and over in line for tickets? The answer turned out to be yes, one thousand times yes. And I want to tell you that if you have a chance to watch anything with nerds, you must. And if they’re Peaks nerds, you must run.
That Brattle screening was how I fell for revival screenings and when I renewed my vows with nerds and their passion. Because that crowd responded to everything in every episode. Every character introduction, every beloved moment, every iconic line was accompanied by a roar of gleeful recognition. I missed Special Agent Dale Cooper’s introductory monologue (“Diane, 11:30 AM, February 24th. Entering the town of Twin Peaks…”) because there was a raucous standing ovation. I missed a lot of details.
But I loved it. The delirium was exhilarating. People were having an unabashed, unvarnished, speaking-in-tongues-level great time. Their reunion with the show, with each other, was incredible to be a part of. Everything was right where it had been left, ready to be welcomed back and re-examined. I knew I was hooked late in the pilot, when Pete Martell serves Cooper and Truman coffee and they sit, contemplating the mugs and beginning to sip. Immediately the crowd around me stirred and murmured. Something was about to happen and their excitement became my excitement. I must have looked genuinely agitated, because my pal leaned over and reassured me, “don’t worry, it’s just a fish.”
And sure enough, there was a fish in the percolator. And sure enough, we all loved it.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The best present you can give yourself is watching something with a group of appreciative, loving nerds. It’s the perfect reminder that it’s cool as hell to care about something, especially if you feel like you’re in danger of being completely consumed by irony, or the detachment of being too hip to care. Or if you’re a nerd yourself, and you’ve caught yourself wielding your own lists like cudgels against other nerds, remember why you’re here. Leave the distantiation to the Twitter trolls and the quibbling to the academics. It’s flat-out fun to find a TV show you like and let yourself really, really like it. Passion and excitement is beautiful, even if it’s just about good, hot, black, coffee or 30 episodes of ’90s TV.
James Folta is a writer and comedian based in Brooklyn. He writing has been published by The New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs, McSweeney’s, The Onion, National Lampoon, Funny or Die, The American Bystander, Esquire, Narrative.ly, and more. He is also the creator and editor of The New Yorker parody magazine, The Neu Jorker, as well as the forthcoming political satire magazine, Paul Ryan Magazine. Find out more at www.jamesfolta.com.