Interview: Happy Town

We talk to the show’s producers about its links to Twin Peaks.

abc-happytownHappy Town may be more or less cancelled, but the show’s final episodes are going to be airing soon. We sat down with the producers at Wondercon to talk about its similarities to Twin Peaks, among other things.

Is there anything you’ve consciously avoided, mistakes that maybe Twin Peaks did make?

JOSH APPELBAUM: One thing that we really focused on in the show is giving answers in a swift fashion. Every time we raise a question, I would say for the most part, by the next episode, you will be getting an answer to that question which, of course, will open up into another question. I just remember being a huge fan of [Twin Peaks]. As amazing as it was, there was a sense of fatigue that wore in after a while. With this, the idea is to really be giving individual satisfactions within each episode to reassure the audience that answers are coming and that it’s not just going to be dragging something else.

STEVEN WEBER: And no one drinks coffee at all. It’s a Twin Peaks reference.

Do you think people have shorter attention spans?

SCOTT ROSENBERG: I don’t know if it’s about shorter attention spans. Although, I think that audiences can tend to be frustrated if every episode is utterly enigmatic. So basically our mantra, as Josh said, is to answer a question. By the end of the episode, we will give you the why, but we won’t tell you the where, the when, or the how. Then maybe the next episode, we’ll give you the where, but we won’t tell you how – you know what I’m saying? So you’re getting answers, so you feel like by the end of each episode that you have eaten a meal, but you’re still hungry for the next.

APPELBAUM: It’s worth saying, in Twin Peaks, one of the things was the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer extended into the second season, and we will answer the question of “Who is the Magic Man?” by the end of the first season. In the final moments of the first season, that answer will be revealed, which is, to us, playing fair with the audience.

And then what do you do?

APPELBAUM: First off, the audience is going to find out who the Magic Man is. That doesn’t mean the rest of the ensemble will. When you find out, it’s a shocking revelation, so it will really turn the show on its head in a great way. It’s not going to be as simple as, “Oh, now let’s go arrest that person.” It’s going to have cataclysmic repercussions for the fabric of the town.

Is it going to be a little more realistic?

APPELBAUM: It is. It’s really worth saying. Twin Peaks was very much set in a world that was wholly bizarre, and Happy Town is much more the real world, and of course there’s dark corners to all of that and there’s certainly surreal moments that pop up through the show, but it’s very grounded in the real world, for sure.

ROSENBERG: When we came up with the idea, the basic notion was we were thinking that there really isn’t a scary show on television that doesn’t fall into one of two categories: the forensic porn, which is guys gloving up and the horrible bodies and women being abused and mutilated and all that stuff, or vampires and X Files and that kind of stuff. What about doing a show that’s scary but that is, at least on its presenting, is very earthbound, is really sort of grounded in reality? That was the jumping-off point.

This article originally appeared in the print edition of SciFiNow, issue 41 by Sarah Lucy May. To buy a copy of the magazine or subscribe, go to, or call our subscriptions hotline on +44 (0) 844 844 0245.