Look for me in the Twilight Zone

You’re traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight, of sound, but of mind. That’s the signpost up ahead, your next stop, Divine Sinema!

Okay, so I’m no Rod Serling. But then again, who is? For years I would say the closest thing we have to Mr. Serling is the brilliant minds behind Netflix’s “Black Mirror” (and I still would); but now we have a singular face. Jordan Peele. Coming off his successful sophomore film Us, Peele has already made a name for himself with his sociopolitical commentary intricately woven throughout his stories. I can think of no one better to take on the legacy. But first, let us examine the said legacy for what it truly is, a radically hash critique of the powers that be from a Jewish man during the Civil Rights movement.

The Twilight Zone has always held a special place in my heart. I found the show the old fashioned way: I was home alone, bored, and there was nothing on TV. From that moment on my life was changed. Through my fingers, I watched terrified and amazed. It had the familiar feeling of old movies I watched with my dad, and a more unsettling feeling I couldn’t quite place. The series would serve as an intermittent afternoon treat, and later a comfort as I moved on in critical thinking and analysis in my undergrad and hopefully in my graduate program in the future. I believe that The Twilight Zone shaped my interests, as it fully encompasses everything I love. Its teleplay, the American Gothic tradition, and sociopolitical rhetoric, all rolled into one neat pop culture package.

Before creating, The Twilight Zone, Serling wrote a series of scripts to be performed on television (the forgotten art of teleplay), with the help of corporate sponsorship. Unfortunately for Serling, sponsorship came with censorship. Tired of seeing his scripts stripped of meaning and identity, he decided to create his own show. Not unlike Peele creating a space and telling stories by, about, and for black people. Be the representation you want to see.

The Twilight Zone; everyone knows the name, and some haven’t even seen a single episode. The Twilight Zone is the familiar made strange. It is fear, it is anxiety, and paranoia all rolled into one; bringing to light fears we hold so deep within ourselves we can’t speak of them. But The Twilight Zone is so much more than horror; and Serling is so much more than a tour guide through a museum of curated nightmares. Serling took a stand on fascism, Nazism, racism, antisemitism, bigotry, The Red Scar, war as a political ideology, and all the horrors man has created. Some episodes are a little more light-hearted than others, and the critiques hidden in metaphors are easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. However, by the end of the episode, Serling’s voice over spells it out for you in the simplest of terms. We may be watching the Twilight Zone, but “any place, and all places can be the Twilight Zone”.

Especially now, as we live in the darkest timeline. With a racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, transphobic, Islamaphobic, antisemitic bigot as the leader of the free world, that alone would be enough for an hour-long episode. There’s also the murders of black, specifically black trans women, and people of color at the hands of our police force. There are wars we started, pollution and deforestation, queer conversion therapy, gun violence, and the list goes on and on. Clearly Jordan Peele’s reboot has a lot of potential material. Peele has already assembled a diverse and inclusive writers room, and a cast to match. So then hopefully we are able to watch as a myriad of current topics are probed and dissected from all angles. And by all angles, I mean from the perspective of those directly effected, not the devil’s advocate. Unless, like in the original series, the devil and his advocates are beautiful white men and women sent to punish or tempt other evil white people with their just desserts.

With the premier of the reboot on April 1st, hopefully this will be the first of many episodes to come. With modern advancements in technology the vast potential for groundbreaking science fiction is there for the taking. I have high hopes, and I’m eager to see the stories they tell. From what I can see there will be modern iterations of the more classic episodes, with new stories from bright new voices. I look forward to Peele’s narrations and summations as I learn lessons after have my deepest fears exposed.

Watch The Twilight Zone on CBS All Access and tell us what you think.

-Always, Grace

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