After being off the air for nearly 26 years, David Lynch’s beloved, zany drama series Twin Peaks is finally returning on Showtime at the end of May. Though the show has been off the air for quite a while and only received two full seasons, its impact on pop culture and television in general can’t be overlooked. It’s one of the most influential drama series ever made.
Not only did Twin Peaks help catapult Lynch’s career into the stratosphere, quickly turning him into a household name, it has also been a major source of inspiration for countless films and shows. From thrillers like The Shining, True Detective, and Prisoners, to just straight up weird and unusual movies and series like Donnie Darko, Black Mirror, and The Leftovers, they all have a little bit of Twin Peaks in their DNA.
If you’re a Twin Peaks fan anxiously waiting for the show’s return, Here Are The 15 Best Movies And TV Shows To Watch Right Now.
15 Donnie Darko
One of Jake Gyllenhaal’s breakout films, Donnie Darko is a thought-provoking and mind-blowing story about the inevitability of death and the lengths people will go to in order to save their loved ones. Much of Donnie Darko can be confusing and unsettling. The film is filled with creepy symbolism and scenes that can only be understood after multiple viewings, much like Twin Peaks. Not to mention, that frightening rabbit costume worn by the mysterious Frank will keep most viewers up at night wondering who or what he is.
Director Richard Kelly does a great job of stringing along the viewer, keeping them in suspense without telling them much throughout the film up until the very end. And boy, what an ending it is. Without spoiling it, Donnie Darko’s conclusion is a somber but realistic commentary on the sacrifices people must make for the greater good and the betterment of others.
14 Black Mirror
Black Mirror takes Twin Peaks’ most horrifying and disturbing moments, and multiplies it by at least a thousand. Charlie Brooker’s hit anthology series has captivated audiences with its memorable and original episodes filled with some of the most messed up pieces of technology a person can think of. Black Mirror is very reminiscent of The Twilight Zone, with its standalone episodes that rarely end well for the protagonists.
The show’s dark and satirical themes about the current world people live in, heavily consumed and controlled by technology, is a great commentary on society and where the world might be headed next. The scariest thing about Black Mirror is that its dystopian depiction of the world isn’t that far off. Who can forget the show’s first episodes featuring a certain pig and the Prime Minister of England, which perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the series and plenty of the disturbing moments that follow next.
13 Northern Exposure
Northern Exposure is often thought of as the sweeter and funnier younger brother of Twin Peaks. It’s essentially a comedy series with a fish out of water premise. The story follows recently graduated New York City physician, Dr. Joel Fleischman, who is sent to practice medicine in the remote fictional town of Cicely, Alaska. Of course, once Fleischman arrives he quickly has conflicts with the small-town mentalities of Cicely’s citizens.
While Northern Exposure isn’t chilling or dark in any way, it still contains plenty of quirky and eccentric characters, much like Twin Peaks. Once the show gains its groove, it shifts its focus on telling memorably weird side stories about the townsfolk, and the unusual relationship Fleischman has with many of them. In its five-year run, Northern Exposure was nominated for 57 awards and won 27 of them, including the 1992 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Drama series.
12 Hotel Room
After David Lynch found success with Twin Peaks, the filmmaker quickly started a new TV series that many might not know about. Called Hotel Room, this three-part mini-series is set during three different eras in a single strange New York City hotel room. The show tells the stories of the hotel’s employees, who never age throughout the different time eras. All of the episodes are dialogue heavy, psychological, and quite strange to say the least.
Hotel Room is vintage Lynch, with characters that are borderline insane and storylines that make little to no sense, but it’s all still very compelling and transfixing. Though Hotel Room was short-lived, with only three episodes two of which Lynch directed himself, it’s a prime showcase of the type of brooding and macabre stories Lynch loves to tell.
11 True Detective
When True Detective first came out in January 2014 on HBO, it was quickly the main talking point in pop culture and the entertainment industry in general. It transfixed audiences all over the world, making them anxious to see what else Matthew McConaughey's anti-social Detective Rustin "Rust" Cohle had up his sleeve next. Created by Nic Pizzolatto, with the first season directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, True Detective’s Season 1 murder mystery is a disturbing look at obsession and just how many things human beings don't quite understand yet, like the supernatural.
The first season is filled with creepy symbolism and unsettling characters, with Rustin Cohle often talking about whether people should have faith and whether there’s something or someone who can ever make Cohle feel that his life's worth living. Though the first season’s conclusion ended being a regular end cap to a murder investigation, True Detective is still a supernatural delight throughout.
When it was first announced that FOX was interested in a Fargo TV series, most fans of the original Coen brothers film were disappointed by the news. Would a soft remake to one of the best movies from some of the best filmmakers in the past few decades work? And, an even better question, does anyone even want or need a Fargo TV show? Of course, creator Noah Hawley, his crew, and his ever rotating cast proved everyone wrong. Fargo, with its third season currently on the air, is an excellent piece of television that not only respects and retains most of what makes the original 1996 film so great, it expands on its wonderful story.
The bizarre and engaging murder investigations, truly odd but lovable characters, a memorable and stunning setting, and the fantastic writing quickly turned Fargo into an Emmy-winning series. The showrunners also decided to go even weirder when they started introducing sci-fi elements in the second season, when an unexplained UFO just suddenly shows up in one of the most climactic scenes in the show.
This Stephen King classic made the list mainly because of how well the film makes use of a single location, much like the infamous town in Twin Peaks. In Misery, a famous author, played by the ever excellent James Caan, gets into a near fatal car accident in the middle of nowhere. He then gets recognized by an obsessed fan played by Kathy Bates, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her chilling work.
Misery is an edge-of-your seat thrill ride that makes you truly fear a regular woman who seems kind on the surface. It’s a haunting showcase of one man’s captivity and abuse at the hands of a lonely individual who has nothing better to do. The musical score excellently adds to the suspense, and the film’s frightening ending leaves the viewers wondering whether Caan’s nightmare will ever be over.
Before Denis Villeneuve was a household name. Before the filmmaker made Sicario and the recent Arrival, which is arguably one of the best films of 2016, Villeneuve directed one of the strangest and confusing movies ever made - Enemy. Jake Gyllenhaal yet again stars in a film that will have audiences wondering what the heck is going every five minutes. Gyllenhaal stars as a solitary college history professor named Adam Bell, a man whose life gets turned upside down when he seemingly spots his exact look-alike in a movie.
What follows next is an unnerving tale of one man slowly losing his mind and his unflinching desire to find out who this look-alike is, and if he’s really his twin. In order to properly enjoy Enemy, you’d have to watch the film multiple times and really dissect all of its intricate little details. Which includes making sense of the over-sized tarantula that quietly sits in Adam’s room at the end.
The second film from Denis Villeneuve on this list is Prisoners. While it’s nowhere near as confusing or strange as Enemy, Prisoners still leaves the viewer quite a lot to think about. The film follows Keller Dover, played by Hugh Jackman, whose daughter suddenly disappears one day. With absolutely no trace of the child and a few weeks of the police failing with the investigation, Keller takes matters into his own hands. Starring Jackman opposite is Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays a detective named Loki with several nervous ticks of his own.
Prisoners is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s a brooding and depressing viewing experience with no sense of hope. That’s just how Villeneuve wanted the movie to be, and it works. It’s a gut-wrenching story about the love parents share for their children, and what they’re willing to do to save them.
6 Wayward Pines
Not many might know it, but Wayward Pines marked the beginning of M. Night Shyamalan's recent rise to prominence. With the director serving as one of the main executive producers on the show, Wayward Pines contains much of the suspense, intrigue, and shocking revelations that fans of Shyamalan have come to love. The series follows a Secret Service agent named Ethan Burke - played by Matt Dillon - who starts investigating the disappearance of two fellow agents in the mysterious small town of Wayward Pines, Idaho.
Of course, what starts out as a regular murder mystery thriller quickly evolves into a weird and shocking sci-fi show about time travel and the post apocalypse. The actual town itself is reminiscent of Twin Peaks, with its large cast of eccentric and secretive citizens and a protagonist who’s trying his very best to understand what’s happening and what is exactly that terrible secret Wayward Pines is trying to keep hidden.
5 The Leftovers
When The Leftovers first aired in the summer of 2014, critics and fans were a bit wary and even disappointed. From the creator of Lost, Damon Lindelof, The Leftovers’ first season contains the same air of intrigue as Lost, but the show was also not giving viewers any kind of answers as to why millions of people suddenly disappeared. However, once the second started rolling out, the series finally understood what works and doesn’t work for the type of story it’s trying to tell.
Instead of the first season’s brooding and dark tone, Lindelof and the cast and crew opted to go for a more sarcastic and comedic tone moving forward, and it has worked wonders. Now, with the final season halfway over, The Leftovers is being lauded as one of the best shows of 2017, and for good reason. While there’s no indication Lindelof will actually provide some answers right at the end, The Leftovers have given fans plenty of memorable scenes and characters to talk and think about for years to come.
4 The Shining
The Shining is not only considered as one of the best horror movies ever, it’s also arguably Stanley Kubrick’s finest and most enigmatic film he’s ever made. From the creepy twins, to Jack Nicholson’s famous “Here’s Johnny!” line and scene, The Shining has impacted film and pop culture for several decades now. Still, after so many years The Shining is just as frightening as it was when it first hit theaters in 1980. The main reason why it’s comparable to Twin Peaks is the film’s constant use of symbolism and weird imagery that can't be explained.
From the endless fountains of blood flooding the hotel elevators, to the terrifying old lady trying to choke Nicholson to death, no one has a definitive answer as to what all of these images and scenes actually mean. And that’s the most horrifying part of The Shining, there’s a sense of the unknown always lingering around The Overlook Hotel. After 30 years, people are still struggling to make sense of that unsettling ending.
3 The Killing
The Killing isn’t weird, zany, or supernatural. It’s one of the most straightforward drama series you could watch. But The Killing’s main murder mystery - the death of teenager Rosie Larsen - closely resembles FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper’s investigation into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. The Killing continually asks the audience whether any of the show’s main characters, who’re all suspects, have it in them to kill an innocent young girl.
The first season of The Killing is a well made, addicting piece of television that keeps viewers in suspense. Mireille Enos’ performance as the workaholic Sarah Linden is engrossing, and The Killing was the big introduction of Joel Kinnaman, who has gone on to star in blockbuster films like Suicide Squad. While The Killing does alter a bit during its second and third seasons, the show picks up once again in its final outing.
Fortitude is nearly a carbon copy of Twin Peaks save for a few minor details. It’s modern take on the same type of murder mystery series, where a peaceful small town in the middle of nowhere gets suddenly enveloped by a shocking murder investigation. The series takes place on Svalbard in Arctic Norway, way up where polar bears roam around and the normal weather is always below freezing. Detective Chief Inspector Eugene Morton, played by Stanley Tucci, arrives to find out why a friendly and kind scientist was nearly eaten alive and left for dead.
The more you watch Fortitude, however, the more it evolves into something creepier. Svalbard and its cast of unconventional citizens are anything but normal and safe from harm. The second season, which just premiered on Amazon Prime, continues the haunting story of Fortitude in excellent fashion.
1 Mulholland Drive
Mulholland Drive is, without a doubt, David Lynch’s masterpiece; the best film he’s ever made, when the filmmaker was at the very peak of his long career. Mulholland Drive is a neo-noir thriller about an aspiring actress looking to get her breakthrough role in Hollywood. Lynch sprinkles in several vignettes that seem unrelated to the main plot, from the tense diner scene that ends in a man dying after being scared by a homeless woman, to the film’s opening featuring a weird dance number.
In order to truly appreciate Mulholland Drive and understand its many mysteries, multiple viewing is a must, including even reading a few analytical articles about some of the strangest scenes in the film. Lynch received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for Mulholland Drive, and the movie is constantly including in the top 100 best movies list. Every single fan of Twin Peaks will feel right at home while watching Mulholland Drive.
Twin Peaks will premiere on Showtime on May 21.