Everyone’s Talking About ‘Twin Peaks,’ So Why Are Ratings So Low?

Let’s say an alien — or an electric talking arm tree; whichever — were to visit Earth for the first time. The alien knows nothing about the human race, other than what it reads on Twitter. (In the alien’s language, “Twitter” loosely translates to “spaghetti topped with birthday cake,” so it’s a little confusing at first.) Based on what’s been trending over the past week, the alien would think a) we’re doomed, and b) that Twin Peaks is the most popular show ever.

The alien is half-right.

Twin Peaks‘ pilot, which aired on ABC on April 8, 1990, was an incredible success, with over 34 million curious viewers. But as the show went on, and the plots got weirder (especially in the polarizing second season), the audience flew away like an owl hunting its prey. Twin Peaks was done after two seasons, and a movie, but remember what Laura Palmer said:

“I’ll see you in 25 years.”

More like 26 years, but close enough. Showtime miraculously resurrected Twin Peaks, with nearly the entire cast and creators David Lynch and Mark Frost in tow, for an 18-episode limited series. The hype was massive — with seemingly dozens of teasers, playlists, remixes, vinyl re-releases, pop-up dinners, and posters — and totally deserved: the two-part premiere was as strange as you remember, and just as stunning. But no one watched.

The heavily hyped return of Twin Peaks on Showtime didn’t draw much of an audience Sunday, with scarcely more than half a million people tuning in to the two-hour premiere. The premiere, which came nearly 26 years after the show last aired on ABC, drew just 506,000 viewers and a 0.2 rating among adults 18-49. It finished well out of the Top 25 original shows on cable for the day. (Via)

That’s lower than even the notoriously poorly-rated The Leftovers (770,000 viewers), but Showtime shouldn’t be worried. According to Deadline, “After [the premiere], Showtime offered episodes 3-4 of the 18-episode reboot to subscribers of its streaming service, Showtime Anytime and Showtime On Demand. The network said it sparked the single biggest day and weekend of signups ever.” Once DVR and on-demand numbers are added, ratings will rise.

It’s worth remembering Twitter is a bubble — what seems popular in 140-character bursts is often barely acknowledged by the outside world. Twin Peaks is a deeply odd show, now more so than ever. Despite all the pre-premiere buzz, it was never going to be the next Game of Thrones or fellow blast-from-the-past Fuller House (both Twin Peaks and Full House aired a quarter-century ago, but Nick at Nite only devotes daily nostalgic reruns to one). Showtime is still pleased, though, because Twin Peaks is bringing attention (and an unquantifiable cool factor) to the network, and we, all 506,000 of us (who probably like the Velvet Underground), are happy because new Twin Peaks(!).

You don’t need a clairvoyant log to know that’s a win for everyone.

(Via TV By the Numbers)