A little more than 25 years after audiences said goodbye to Twin Peaks, Dale Cooper is coming back for another cup of coffee and a second helping of cherry pie.
In 1990, David Lynch captivated American audiences with his show that inspired a cult following, Twin Peaks. The quirky, thrilling, and iconic murder mystery is credited with paving the way for modern TV weirdness. No stranger to breaking rules, Lynch is finally giving viewers — and those who dwelt in that fictitious small town — a chance to revisit Twin Peaks, Washington (population 51,201).
Although it’s been a quarter of a century since FBI Agent Dale Cooper appeared on television, Netflix recently gave younger viewers a chance to acquaint themselves with the show. Within the last couple of years, it’s enjoyed a pop culture resurgence — just in time for this month’s premiere of the 18-episode series.
The original Twin Peaks was actually quite groundbreaking in terms of its content. While it’s arguably Lynch’s most “mainstream” piece of work, he managed to push the envelope in a way that was still accessible for audiences. In particular, Lynch’s treatment of David Duchovny’s trans character, Denise, was fairly revolutionary for the time. While other series may have depicted trans people as villains or constant punchlines, Denise’s story is treated with tenderness.
When Denise reintroduces herself to FBI Agent Dale Cooper, explaining that Dennis Bryson is no more, Coop’s reaction encapsulates why audiences love him so: he matter-of-factly says, “OK.” When he later slips up and refers to Denise by her old name, he quickly and sincerely apologizes, making sure to call her by her desired name and pronouns from then on.
The friendship between Coop and Denise is likely one of the most touching representations of camaraderie between a trans person and a friend who knew them prior to their transition even by today’s standards. And it stands in stark contrast to other examples of trans representation in media throughout the 1990s. That said, the writing is not without its problems. There are certainly a few jokes told at Denise’s expense, and the catalyst for her transition (dressing in women’s clothing for an undercover operation) may not exactly jive with most trans stories.
However, there’s a careful attention to detail not present in other ’90s shows. Lynch never reveals whether Denise’s transition involves surgery, but a line cut from one of those early scripts explains that Denise is in a program that requires her to “dress the part for six months prior to any therapy, hormones, [and] electrolysis.” Laser hair removal itself is a lengthy process, as most people who undergo it require four to six treatments, each spaced five to eight weeks apart. So while some details were left unsaid and others might be deemed problematic by today’s standards, Denise and her friendship with Coop were treated with a humanity and dignity rarely seen in media a quarter-century ago.
Fans will be happy to know that David Duchovny and Kyle MacLachlan will be part of the returning cast (along with around 35 other familiar faces) of Twin Peaks: The Return, which premieres on Showtime on May 21. New cast members reportedly include Jim Belushi, Michael Cera, Trent Reznor, Ashley Judd, and Naomi Watts.
At the original series’ end, Laura Palmer eerily predicted, “I’ll see you again in 25 years,” a soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecy welcomed by Lynchites around the world.
Although not much is known about how this newest incarnation will play out, Twin Peaks fans realize that that’s all part of the fun. The only clue that’s been given in recent teasers and through social media posts? “Something old is new again.” And more than likely, the owls won’t be what they seem.