Happy endings: The story of twin peaks

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In this paper I examine the complex manner in which narrative and genre operate in the American television series Twin Peaks (1990/1991). The role of the detective, in classic as well as postmodernist models of the detective story, is explored. Dale Cooper, the “literal” hero of Twin Peaks, is contrasted with earlier incarnations of similar protagonists. The most interesting index of the difference in this rendition of the detective hero lies in his relation to women. The classic roles which women are offered in the genre, as dead or deadly figures, are here intriguingly modified. I argue that the relation of male to female, and masculine to feminine, at work in Twin Peaks, may fruitfully be read in conjunction with generic shifts in the series. The interweaving of the detective and soap opera genres concludes with the jarring ending of the series. In the detailed discussion which follows I conclude that Twin Peaks offers a radical rereading of the detective story yet, at the end, disavows the implications of its own subversiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Literary Studies
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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