Nightmare in red: Twin Peaks parody, homage and mashup

Lorna Jowett, Jeffrey Weinstock (Editor), Catherine Spooner (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter


In Fan Phenomena: Twin Peaks, Shara Lorea Clark mentions a Saturday Night Live sketch, two dream sequences from different episodes of The Simpsons, and Sesame Street’s ‘Monsterpiece Theater: Twin Beaks’ as some of the first TV references to a show that ‘saturated the cultural consciousness’ (2013: 9). It might be expected that Twin Peaks, described by Robert J. Thompson as the series that ‘changed the face of television’ (1997: 152), would attract this kind of attention during its run, but a more lasting influence is apparent in homages and parodies that continue to be produced. From Japanese video game Deadly Premonition, released in 2010, to Disney’s animated Gravity Falls (2012-), described by its creator Alex Hirsch as ‘my weird Twin Peaks meets The Simpsons series’ (interview, 2012), the influence of Twin Peaks is still strongly felt. As well as providing evidence of the show’s lasting influence, Twin Peaks parodies, homages and mash-ups extend the show’s own tendency to pastiche and repurpose familiar genres, stock characters and aesthetic styles. Such references are a fascinating source for analysing exactly what it is about the show that makes it so resonant. Sketches and segments pick up on a surprising range of elements from their source material. While many ‘do’ the famous dream sequence in the Red Room (like Scooby Doo? Mystery Incorporated’s ‘Nightmare in Red’), others highlight different aspects of the striking visuals, emphasise the use of sound, or foreground performance styles. The tone of such references can also be revealing about responses to the show: Homer Simpson’s, ‘Brilliant! I have absolutely no idea what’s going on,’ (‘Lisa’s Sax’) is designed to combine both the potentially ‘brilliant’ aspects of the series, with the deliberate obscurity that can be read more negatively. This chapter examines the spectrum from affectionate homage to outright parody that is apparent in a wealth of references from brief mentions to more sustained treatments, analysing how Twin Peaks appears, to very different effect, in material as varied as the light comedy drama of Psych’s ‘Dual Spires’ episode, (2010), the You Tube lego short ‘Twin Bricks’ (2007), or the Silent Singer from season two of the UK’s Psychoville (2012).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReturn to Twin Peaks: New Approaches to Materiality, Theory, and Genre on Television
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781137563842
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Twin Peaks
  • parody
  • mash up
  • homage
  • intertextuality
  • television drama
  • user-generated content


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