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Will the Return of Twin Peaks Appeal to an Impatient Generation? The Data Tells Entertainment

Entertainment By Gemma Joyce on May 23rd 2017

Black coffee and cherry pie may appear to be two unrelated foodstuffs to many, myself included up until this weekend.

But for fans of the television classic Twin Peaks, they denote the favorite pick-me-ups of Special Agent Dale Cooper who was last seen in the Red Room at the Black Lodge in the final episode of the series which aired in 1991.

Some 26 years later, the show is back and as recognizably undecipherable as it ever was.

The return of the show, directed by David Lynch, is an interesting choice from the Showtime network. While surreal crime/horror offerings along the lines of American Horror Story have done well with younger audiences recently, the slower moving format of Twin Peaks may go down awkwardly with a generation accustomed to frantically second-screening.

That said, there’s still a loyal cult following of the original iterations as Sunday’s premiere showed.

The beginning of the show, featuring the famous title sequence, saw the highest peak in mentions as viewers got excited to settle into the new season. “Can’t wait” and the fact that people had waited over 25 years were among the trending words and phrases in the first five minutes of air time.

twin peaks

Reviewing the first two hours of Twin Peaks madness, the Guardian’s Mark Lawson claims “Anyone coming fresh to the cult is likely to have been utterly bewildered.”

While other reviewers described it as “familiarly inscrutable.” The slow pace of Twin Peaks, and its abundance of mismatching puzzle pieces, is not for everyone it seems.

The antithesis of instant gratification

@Badnecklace offers wise words on the new season.

Her advice certainly wasn’t heeded by @orlar35.

Nor was it by the 73 people who tweeted the words “bored” or “boring” in their commentary in the 12 hours following the show’s start at 9pm ET.

@MsHappyDieHappy was unimpressed with those who chose to live tweet the show as if it were a more family-friendly and easier-to-decipher Doctor Who episode.

Twin Peaks is not necessarily a social friendly show – something that younger viewers may find frustrating. But does one have to have been a fan of the previous seasons to understand or enjoy the current one?


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Watching the originals

Whether or not someone needs to have watched the old Twin Peaks seasons in order to understand the new one isn’t entirely clear.

In one case where I found someone asking about this someone replied with a fish riding a bike.

That said, I did find over a thousand people discussing watching the originals between May 15th and the morning of the 22nd.

The overwhelming majority of them were talking about “re-watching” the show, as opposed to watching the originals for the first time, but we did find plenty of people enquiring about where to find the originals and saying they needed to watch the originals before the new release.

The future of Twin Peaks

Given how many re-watchers compared to new watchers there were, our guess is that the latest season of Twin Peaks could be a slow burner.

We found a significant number of people complaining that they hadn’t finished their re-watch yet and thus couldn’t start the new season til it was finished.

Meanwhile, if newer viewers are going to take the time to re-watch the originals before starting the newer season it could grow even more slowly.

It also appears to appeal more to male audiences (around 57% of gender-categorized authors discussing the show in the last week were male).

twin peaks

Perhaps this will level out as more episodes are released and the show grows its audience, but time will tell.

Based on how the data looks, I think Twin Peaks will remain a cult favorite and probably won’t reach the dizzying mention spikes of the likes of a show like Game of Thrones.

Compare the spikes to an average episode of GoT and you’ll find it achieves around 10% of the mentions per minute. (For clarity, with GoT we’re just looking at tweets, but with Twin Peaks we’re looking at mentions across social media).

But, given the unpredictable nature of the series and the talent behind it, perhaps it’ll be a much bigger hit than we expect. Who knows?

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? Drop us an email at react@brandwatch.com for more information.


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Gemma Joyce

@GLJoyce

Gemma is the social data journalist heading up Brandwatch React. As well as being first with pop culture news, Gemma loves pizza, politics, and Angry Birds.