‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’ Will Fill the ‘Twin Peaks’ Void in Your Heart
Twin Peaks: The Return has ended with an eternally haunting shriek, almost certainly the final chapter in David Lynch’s opus that began two decades prior. At times utterly disturbing, hilarious, confusing, and deeply human, The Returnwas an assurance that, in its wake, no series could accurately be described as “unlike anything on television” going forward. The original Twin Peaks was incredibly influential to television’s thriving Golden Age; you can still see traces of its DNA on shows as disparate as The Leftovers, Atlanta, The Young Pope, and Riverdale. As Elijah Wolfson posits for Quartz, it’s likely we’ll see The Return‘s imprint on the medium in the next quarter century as a new style of prestige TV.
That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t help voracious consumers of all things strange and surreal suffering Twin Peaks withdrawals in the now. Luckily, a series premiered Sunday that is a worthy salve: SundanceTV’s Top of the Lake: China Girl.
Of course, it’s worth noting that no show can match Twin Peaks‘ specific brand of weird (it’s probably not a spoiler to say China Girl features exactly zero atom bombs birthing unspeakable evil). But the resemblances between Jane Campion’s project—which included the original seven-episode 2013 miniseries, Top of the Lake—and Lynch’s Twin Peaks are nonetheless uncanny. Both are twisted whodunits that are less interested in the actual crime than the aftermath that spills from it, and both use a picturesque setting to reveal the inherent darkness lurking within even the quaintest hamlets. Ultimately, China Girl is a worthy follow-up, offering a moving and surreal exploration of sexuality, toxic masculinity and domestic abuse—themes familiar to Lynch’s work—while adding the complex layer of motherhood.