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Will the Return of Twin Peaks Appeal to an Impatient Generation? The Data Tells Entertainment
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.
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.
Some puzzle pieces inched together as the premiere ended. #TwinPeaks is definitely not a show for those who like instant gratification.
— Mala Bhattacharjee (@badnecklace) May 22, 2017
Her advice certainly wasn’t heeded by @orlar35.
#Twin Peaks they better start explaining shit soon cos otherwise I'll be switching off.
— orla redmond (@orlar35) May 22, 2017
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.
People live-tweeting during Twin Peaks like it's some sort of immediate gratification throwaway Moffat shit. Stop.
— Miss Happy Die Happy (@MsHappyDieHappy) May 22, 2017
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.
Where can I watch the original Twin Peaks? I want to watch it before the new season starts.
— Courtney👻 (@CourtneyxWillis) May 20, 2017
My plan for tonight after work is to binge watch the original series of Twin Peaks
— Lauren💫 (@laurenis_odd) May 20, 2017
— LEWIS CARR (@snarlsbukowski) May 22, 2017
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).
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?
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