A year after it premiered, Twin Peaks: The Return has redefined the reboot for good.
What do television revivals owe us? It’s a question that’s pattered around in my mind frequently, now that so many classic shows are being exhumed. From The X-Files to Roseanne, reboots are infesting television. While networks cash in on our wistful yearnings for the cultural staples of yesteryear, we eat up the ease of multi-cam sitcoms and familiar faces. We’re gluttons for nostalgia.
David Lynch, on the other hand, has never been one to cater to audience expectation. So when Lynch returned, after 25 years, to Twin Peaks he embarked on a continuation of the series rather than a revival. He understood our expectations — hence, The Return — and happily squashed them under his directorial boot. Nostalgia is easy, and that’s never been Lynch’s style.
Nearly a year after its premiere, Twin Peaks: The Return is still mystifying. It shirks the soap structure of the original in favor of a perplexing blend of vignettes and seriality. It boasts a 217-person cast list, presenting characters new and old with little distinction. Most of all, it is utterly withholding, sometimes frustratingly so. But a closer examination of this restraint reveals a deeper critique of our nostalgic tendencies.
In their video essay, “Twin Peaks: The Return – A Critique of Nostalgia,” the ScreenPrism team explores just how David Lynch balances restraint and reward. Though nods to the original series are subtle and sparse, their scarcity makes them all the more rewarding for viewers. The series is challenging and subversive; it denies us the familiar pleasures of a reboot while expanding upon the essence of the show in unexpected (and sometimes arduous) ways. But that’s why Twin Peaks: The Return is so brilliantly disruptive — it reimagines what a revival can and should be.
Check out the video essay below to learn more about how Twin Peaks: The Return plays with expectations in order to challenge us.