Look hard enough at certain scenes from a David Lynch joint, and you can interpret them to mean virtually anything you need to suit your needs. So when we needed a TV show from which to draw parenting tips, of course we thought of Twin Peaks, Lynch’s sole foray into network television and a precursor to the X-Files, Millennium, Lost, and other shadowy serialized dramas.
These days, Lynch spends about as much time on thoroughly ominous electro-lounge pop as he does moving pictures, which makes us pretty dubious about those rumors of a looming Twin Peaks season three. So let’s take a mental jaunt to a tiny logging community in Washington State, and find out what kind of parenting advice David Lynch might have given in 1990.
(Spoiler alert: What follows blow a handful of surprises, including the solution to the show’s big riddle: Who Killed Laura Palmer?, so proceed with caution.)
DON’T ASSUME YOU CAN’T TURN A BAD PARENT/CHILD RELATIONSHIP AROUND
When a Twin Peaks aficionado thinks of Bobby Briggs, it’s likely that the first image of the high school football hero that pops to mind is the baby-faced Briggs barking like a rabid Rottweiler from a jail cell. He never did follow through on his threat to end James Hurley’s hopelessly romantic existence. Perhaps he was too busy selling tons of coke, sleeping with cutie waitress Shelly Johnson behind her sociopath husband’s back, and being the only character on Twin Peaks who ever tied the sleeves of a flannel shirt around his waist because he knew it was the 90z. Needless to say, his relationship with father Major Garland Briggs wasn’t always warm and fuzzy.
But the General respected Bobby’s youthful misanthropy, and only smacked him once, even though he probably deserved several smacks for being a little bastard. The Major even experienced a nighttime vision, which reassured his “confidence” and “optimism” for what the future holds for young, rascally Bobby.
It’d be a stretch to say Bobby’s turned into a swell, upstanding citizen by the end of the series. He took a job working for the insidious Ben Horne, and continued to court women who weren’t his girlfriend. On the upside, he stopped selling drugs and threatening people in jail. He even heroically rescued Shelly from getting hacked to pieces by her husband Leo after he snapped out of his coma. Most importantly, he and the Major had about as sentimental of a reconciliation as a military man and a badass are capable of having after the Major resurfaced from his mysterious disappearance from the ever mysterious forest just outside Twin Peaks proper.
Partially as a result of his father’s reluctance to give up on him, juvenile delinquent Bobby Briggs took steps in the direction toward becoming a better person. So don’t be too quick to write your kid out of your will, even if he or she is peddling hard drugs to high schoolers and suspected of murdering Laura Palmer.
TAKE A REASONABLY ACTIVE ROLE IN YOUR TEENAGE CHILD’S LIFE
Upon reaching the age of 13 or 14, virtually every kid demands significantly more independence than their parents are likely accustomed to giving them. And damn it, teenagers need all that extra breathing room to find their own identities and develop into adulthood. But it’s certainly possible to go too far when it comes to letting your little Billy and Suzy go their own ways.
Just look at the sad case of the Haywards. As the only doctor in Twin Peaks, William Hayward provides a lovely home and ample financial support. But after he performed the autopsy on Laura Palmer, he and Harriet completely drop out of their daughter’s life until the very end the show.
Donna Hayward certainly wasn’t well-served by her elders’ indifference. She starts smoking at the beginning of season two, nearly gets cut to pieces when she comes a wee bit too close to solving the mystery of Laura’s death, and breaks up with her motorcycle-riding badass with a heart of gold boyfriend, James.
Later years weren’t much kinder to Donna. Before long, she embarked on another humiliating and short-lived relationship with public access TV host Wayne Campbell. By 2002, she had mutated into a cannibalistic metamorph alien bent on the destruction of Earth, only to be foiled by the MIB agency. In just recent days, celebrity bloggers mocked her for a misguided adventure with plastic surgery.
Did William or Harriet ever warn Donna about the dangers of smoking or being an extraterrestrial world devourer? Were they too busy being irrelevant characters? Could any of Donna’s troubles have been prevented with a more present mom and dad? Would she have been better off raised by Ben Horne? We’ll never know.
BEFORE YOU PROPOSITION A MASKED HOOKER, ASK HER TO TAKE HER MASK OFF SO YOU CAN MAKE SURE SHE’S NOT YOUR DAUGHTER
At the start of Twin Peaks, shifty business tycoon Ben Horne was an obvious suspect for the murder of Laura Palmer. He was never the answer to The Big Question, but boy was he ever up to all kinds of other nefariousness. Almost none of his misdeeds were as heinous as the co-proprietorship of “One-Eyed Jacks,” a brothel full of teenagers.
Unfortunately, Horne’s precocious daughter Audrey knew perfectly well what kinds of business her father was involved with, and much like the television audience, figured he might’ve had something to do with Laura Palmer’s demise. As a result, she followed Palmer’s trail of former employers: the perfume counter at Horne’s Department Store, and then One-Eyed Jack’s.
Audrey might have been one of the least effective prostitutes in the history of history’s oldest trade, and was predictably kidnapped and held for ransom as soon as Canadian gangster Jean Renault and madam Blackie O’Reilly figured out who her father was. But before that happened, Ben made a visit to One-Eyed Jacks, encountered a masked Audrey, and what unfolded is one of the top five most incestuous moments in all 30 episodes of Twin Peaks. Had it not been for Audrey’s signature quick thinking, it would have been tied for first.
Completely by accident, Ben raised a girl with incredibly thick skin who’s able to shrug off her father’s sloppy, oblivious attempt to screw her. Audrey even becomes instrumental with helping Ben overcome his venture into La La Land later in the series. But it’s fair to say that she’s the exception, not the rule, when it comes to 18-year-old women whose fathers try to nail them in a coked-up, drunken frenzy.
Speaking of incest…..
DON’T GET POSSESSED BY EVIL INCARNATE, THEN RAPE AND MURDER YOUR OWN DAUGHTER (OR YOUR NIECE)
And for that matter, don’t watch Fire Walk With Me. It adds little, if anything, to the Twin Peaks canon, and Laura Flynn Boyle isn’t in it.
If you’d like to look for more parenting lessons from Twin Peaks, the complete series (Definitive Gold Box Edition) is available here.