The mysterious feminine : set design and costume in the Season Two finale of Twin Peaks

Morris, M 2016, The mysterious feminine : set design and costume in the Season Two finale of Twin Peaks , in: Marterial Cultures of Television, March 2016, University of Hull. (Unpublished)

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Just as there is an archetype of woman as the object of man's eternal love, so there must be an archetype of her as the object of his eternal fear, representing, perhaps, the shadow of his own evil actions. (Enchi Fumiko 1983, p. 57) Vampiric femme fatales, fifties fashions, and Red Drapes in a Black Lodge are central to the ‘look’ of the season two finale of Twin Peaks. Although the narrative positions Bob, and therefore masculinity, as the evil destructive force, This paper explores the elements of costume and set design that invoke the idea of Barbara Creed’s ‘ monstrous feminine’ albeit in a sanitized fashion, therefore marking the show out as an important marker in the gender politics of television drama. Men and women both represent evil forces, reinforced by their costumes. Additionally, the environments in the world of Twin Peaks conjure up the cavernous ‘toothed vagina’ discussed by Barbara Creed. The drapes of the Red Room are indicative of this idea. This paper will specifically argue that Barbara Creed’s theory of the ‘monstrous feminine’ is useful in unpacking the complex power relationships between the sexes in the text. Additionally, the production design and costume for the series by Patricia Norris was revolutionary in the landscape of 1990s television. Norris did not ascribe to either of the two most prominent strains of thought, around costume, Hollywood television overdressing or the cheery conventions of the typical sitcom closet. Instead she strived to make the character’s clothing styles both distinctive yet unobtrusive. Two decades later, this filmic approach has become standard for television costume design. The finale was radically re-scripted by David Lynch in order to replace much of the dialogue to focus on the ‘look’ in order to create a rich visual template that experiments with not only gender politics but also with time, space and place. This is a timely paper given that Twin Peaks is set to return to the small screen on Showtime in 2017. This paper also marks out the finale as the threshold into a new era of filmic but also ‘gendered’ production and costume design and will consider how its legacy has shaped post-network quality TV drama ever since.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Funders: University of Salford
Depositing User: M Morris
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2016 10:45
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2022 15:13

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