Twin Peaks wasn't the first high school noir — 1988's Heathers proved murder needs no hall pass — but it mined the disturbing, unsettling world of adolescent sexuality later explored in Buffy (in which a heroine loses her virginity to her vampire boyfriend, who, in short order, turns evil and starts picking off her friends) and Veronica Mars. (When I first watched Twin Peaks, I was 12, and already terrified about starting high school; Peaks did nothing to assuage my fears. I also almost choked myself at a sleepover while trying to replicate Audrey's trick of tying a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue.)
+ Still Wrapped In Plastic: 'Twin Peaks' Turns 20
Twin Peaks smuggled avant-garde into prime time, brimming with a surrealism you just didn't encounter back then. Remember that weird room with the dwarf who talked backwards? It took cultural stereotypes — the straight-arrow FBI agent, the teen hottie, the wannabe James Dean, the corrupt small-town businessman — and pushed them until they exploded. The result was an often-hilarious show bursting with raw emotion.