The Twin Peaks Effect

In which The Author fancies a girl half the time

My older readers will no doubt remember David Lynch and Mark Frost’s surreal TV series Twin Peaks, which was screened in the UK in the early 1990s. It was my favourite show at the time, and parts of Dodge This were influenced (consciously or otherwise) by it to some extent. However, I hadn’t realised how important it was until a couple of months ago.
Set in a remote logging town somewhere in the north-western USA, the story revolved around an investigation into the death of a beautiful and popular young girl. Nothing in the town was quite what you’d expect, and Lynch’s skewed view of small-town America was given the full treatment. But among the Log Lady, the cross-dressing FBI agent, the backwards-talking dwarf, the girl who could tie knots in cherry stalks using only her tongue, the sheriff named Harry Truman (with a photo of President Truman on his wall), the crazy psychiatrist, the psychopathic Bob, and all the other weird and wonderful creations who populated the town, the most important character was the murder victim herself – Laura Palmer. She was played by Sheryl Lee, and became a pin-up girl for the Goths of the time.
Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer
However, about halfway through the series a new character was introduced – Laura’s cousin Maddy Ferguson. She was also played by Sheryl Lee, but with dark hair.
Sheryl Lee as Maddy Ferguson
And, in spite of the fact that it was the same person in both cases, I only fancied Maddy. I call this the Twin Peaks Effect.
It’s become increasingly apparent in recent years, with girls I know changing their hair colour far more often than they used to. Emily alternates between blonde and black hair almost on a monthly basis. She turns heads either way, but I only look twice when she’s dark. Sara, who’s been blonde as long as I’ve known her, recently went dark brown and looked amazing. She’s very pretty anyway, but it was the first time I’d really fancied her. Della went blonde a while ago, and doesn’t look as attractive as when she was a brunette. Sophie’s put photos of her new hairstyle on Facebook today, and she too has gone blonde. I prefer her natural colour.
It’s not just friends who can manage to pull this stunt. It happens on TV as well – just like the original Twin Peaks Effect, in fact. In one episode of NCIS, the Goth forensic scientist Abby (played by Pauley Perrette) turns up in the lab dressed as Marilyn Monroe, her black hair under a blonde wig. Tony and Tim ogle her while her back is turned, unable to believe the transformation, but it’s the one episode where she didn’t do it for me. It also happened during the last episode of the recent Doctor Who season. Alex Kingston, who has been popping in and out of the series for a while, is a very attractive woman, but simply not my type. In ‘The Big Bang’, however, her character had to pass herself off as Cleopatra. In her black wig, she looked amazing!
I wonder if there’s a psychological case study taking shape here. With the image manipulation technology available today, it would be easy to change the hair colour of photographs of random women and see which ones the experimental subjects preferred. If (as some scientists have predicted) the genes for blonde hair are on the evolutionary way out, then obviously sexual selection is going to take a major part in determining the future of the genes.
Personally, I don’t go for blondes, so a large-scale study would be interesting. Do gentlemen really prefer blondes but marry brunettes, as Anita Loos had it? And what of the much-maligned redheads? I think the Doctor’s current companion Amy Pond (the tall, slim, pretty and very red-haired Karen Gillan) may have changed a few people’s opinions on the subject. My own preference for redheads may be some sort of weird mutation.
Or maybe I just like asking for trouble.

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