Twin Peaks was one of the most popular shows on television during its first season, aired in 1990. The show was based in small town America, and was easily related to by young and middle aged viewers. The series begins with the murder of an American icon, the Homecoming queen Laura Palmer. The entire series spawned from the single image of a young beautiful girl's dead body that washed up on the shore. This image led to others similar to it- the violence and contempt towards women. The women of Twin Peaks all seemed to have something in common, where they were all either murdered, portrayed as weak, deceptive, and/or abused by the male characters. The dangers that stem from showing such images on national television are that the audience, typically composed of males, would become desensitized to these images, and further, believe that the bold stance that Twin Peaks takes on femininity is true.
Twin Peaks treats domestic violence and abuse with a creepy insensitivity. The incestuous relationship between Laura and her father Leland is almost ignored- being blamed on the possessive spirit, BOB. 'After Leland's confession and suicide, Agent Cooper asks Sheriff Truman whether he would prefer to believe that BOB worked through Leland or 'that a man would rape and murder his own daughter.' At this moment Twin Peaks articulates a revision of the seduction theory. Little girls are not abused by their fathers; if they meet an unhappy end, the reason must be sought outside the family circle'; (Desmet 98). This reinforces societies urge not to directly face its problems, but rather turn away in a convenient manner. Twin Peaks expresses this urge by hiding Leland's identity as the rapist/murder so well, until it is finally showed to the audience when Leland brutally murders his niece Maddy. Could it be that the reason it is impossible to identify Leland as the killer, is because the viewer does not want to? The audience knows that Leland is capable of murder after he is seen murdering Jacques Renault, but they still do not want to believe that Leland would kill his daughter.
There are clues, however, which do point the blame towards Leland, but these are never directly mentioned or formally addressed. Laura is seen crying out for help, but is too scared to come out and say anything, even to the ones she loves. This addresses American society's will to have its women be passive and voiceless. '[Laura's] cocaine habit, her involvement in pornography, her career as a prostitute at One-Eyed-Jack's, and her desire to find a father substitute or male protector in Doctor Jacoby and others, all identify Laura Palmer as an incest victim asking for help'; (Desmet 94). It is typical in America for males to ignore the needs of women because they would rather help themselves and others of their gender. Twin Peaks reinforces this belief by feeding this idea to a mass audience, which, in this case, is typically composed of males.