Twin Peaks became one of 1990's top-rated shows, a critical success both nationally and internationally. Reflecting its devoted cult fan base, the series became a part of popular culture, referenced in other television shows, commercials, comic books, video games, films and song lyrics. Declining viewer ratings led to ABC's insistence that the identity of Laura's murderer be revealed midway through the second season. In 1992, the series spawned a prequel, the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, a commercial failure in America, but a success in Japan. In 2007, Twin Peaks was listed as one of Time magazine's "Best TV Shows of All-TIME".
As with much of Lynch's other work (notably Blue Velvet), Twin Peaks explores the gulf between the veneer of small-town respectability and the seedier layers of life lurking beneath it. Each character from the town leads a double life that is slowly uncovered as the series progresses, as it attempts to expose the dark side of seemingly innocent lives. The show further resembles Lynch's previous and subsequent work, in that it is difficult to place in a defined genre: stylistically, the program borrows the unsettling tone and supernatural premises of horror films, and simultaneously offers a bizarrely comical parody of American soap operas with a campy, melodramatic presentation of the morally dubious activities of its quirky characters. Finally, like the rest of Lynch's oeuvre, the show represents an earnest moral inquiry distinguished by both weird humor and a deep vein of surrealism.