It’s hard to overstate the impact Twin Peaks had when it premiered on ABC in the spring of 1990. David Lynch, who at that point was the acclaimed, bizarro auteur of idiosyncratic movies like Blue Velvet, did what was unheard of at the time, by taking his talents to the small screen to tell the story of a small town in the Pacific Northwest that gets rocked by the murder of high school student Laura Palmer. When FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is sent to the sleepy town of Twin Peaks to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death, he discovered that underneath the town’s classic Americana veneer, there lay a malevolent underbelly where Lynch was free to indulge his most nightmarish visions. That year, the question “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” dominated the cultural conversation.
When Lynch and his co-creator, Mark Frost, finally answered that question in the middle of the show’s second season, audiences began to lose interest, and the ratings fell as the plot strands veered wildly away from the central narrative that first hooked them in. ABC swiftly canceled the show, and just like that, Twin Peaks was gone (the less said about the 1992 prequel, Fire: Walk With Me, the better). But despite its short run, Twin Peaks left a seismic mark on the television landscape; it was prestige, serialized TV before such a thing existed. In its wake, writers felt emboldened to get weird, to tell complicated stories that, until then, belonged to more cerebral mediums. So with the show returning for an 18-hour run this Sunday (oh, what, you haven’t heard?), we thought it would be the right time to take a look at some of the TV shows that in some way owe their existence to Twin Peaks. We selected 10, but the real number is immeasurable.