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|Index||15 reviews in total|
I think this is an underrated episode. It rails against the cookie-cutter suburban uniformity that was running rampant in the late 50's and early 60's by taking it to its logical extreme at a time in the distant future. It also speaks to now, with shows like What Not To Wear on TLC being popular. I'm not saying that What Not To Wear is bad or evil, but it walks a very fine line between being a makeover show that helps people be more confident about themselves and being like this episode of the Twilight Zone. It wouldn't take much to make a show like What Not To Wear cross the line, and episodes like this one make us aware of that fine line and alert us to the dangers of crossing it.
I just saw this episode for the first time since I first saw it back in the 1980s. I remember loving it back then, but now, probably 25 years later, and more than 40 years after it originally aired, I'm completely floored by it. I even teared up. It is probably more relevant now than ever before. Society -- and not "the state", as another commenter said but, rather, our consumer, corporate-profit-driven society -- pressures people, particularly girls, through their friends, media images, products, even their own families, to look and act a certain way. Now, young people don't read Shakespeare and Keats, and it's not because the works have been banned -- they don't read them because society tells them it's incredibly uncool and completely unnecessary. Collin Wilcox gives a subtle, convincing performance of a girl who is certainly, very, very beautiful on the inside. This is the Twilight Zone at its very finest.
The irony of watching this episode of Zone today is really rich, now that television has morphed from high-minded, ambitious tele-plays like this one into a virtual 24-hour celebration of just the sort of shallow inanity being satirized here. True, the prospect of switching to "America's Top Model" after this episode ends is good for a giggle. But while the episode itself is tongue-in-cheek in places, the message is dead serious. I was truly moved by this one, and really struck by its relevance to todays corporate television, with its population of vapid, look-alike suits and silicone-and-botox enhanced Barbie dolls. Even the slightly silly, Nazi-like "Sigmund Friend" character who psycho-analyzes Marilyn in the middle doesn't kill the momentum much. That segment could have deteriorated into farce, but doesn't, thanks to the razor-sharp, insightful dialog that runs through this whole episode, and the picture-perfect acting of young Collin Wilcox. And even for a show whose stock in trade was the Big Ending, the final 5 minutes of this episode pack quite a whallop. Wilcox delivers an emotionally wrenching performance as a normal girl slowly realizing that the "transformation" changes more than just physical appearance. The technical aspects such as music and photography are all at the high level you would expect for this show. True, the episode draws on some familiar Zone themes (the totalitarian post-literature society, the obsession with youth and appearance). Still, this episode serves as a reminder that "Twilight Zone" at its best was perhaps as good as television ever got. As a veteran Zone watcher, I think "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" might be one of its very best episodes.
It's one of my favorite episodes and spotlights how beauty is rewarded
in our culture. It's also something that is happening today with
plastic surgery and our youth. It was before it's time (1964) but it
shows how plastic surgery is so common today. It's scary and shows
where this country could be headed.
I recently found out there is a young adult book (actually a series) entitled "Uglies" written by Scott Westerfeld that is eerily similar to the Twilight Zone episode. See the book's plot line below. The episode was written by Charles Beaumont. Mr. Beaumont died in 1967.
The book is spotlighted in the September 20, 2007 issue of "PW Children's Bookshelf". Here is the plot line "....set in a futuristic world where mandatory surgery at the age of 16 ensures that everyone conforms to an ideal standard of beauty. The novel's premise and heroinea rebellious girl named Tally who has not yet undergone the operationappealed to teen readers, who eagerly followed her evolving saga...." I have not read the book but it sounds like this Twilight Zone episode.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Number 12 looks just like you" relies on a familiar theme that
Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling was very much interested in. That is,
how society (i.e. "The State")has a tendency to control and conform the
individual. In this tale of the future, a young woman is forced to
undergo a radical surgery technique that will change her dull ordinary
looks into a stunning beauty. The problem is that everyone (men and
women) are subject to undergo the procedure. The young woman (Collin
Wilcox Patton) rightly surmises that the underlying purpose for the
procedure is to ensure conformity of the masses and is hardly for
appearances sake. Worse, she soon becomes aware that not only does the
surgical technique change one's face and figure, it also alters the
mind. If a person isn't thrilled about having the procedure performed,
they will be after it's finished.
The other featured players in this story all look like they came out of a modeling agency. In fact, the statuesque Suzy Parker, who plays the mother of the young woman, was one of the country's most famous models of her time. Pamela Austin, another beauty, is cast as the "Number 12" girl. Serling's commentary at the end of this tale touches upon society's current views of beauty, and the drastic steps people take to stay young. Serling was a firm believer in the old saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." His disdain for plastic surgery and the Beverly Hills/Hollywood way of life is quite apparent in this tale of the future.
At the heart of this episode is a future where skin deep is all that matters.Conformity is mandatory and everything is dumbed down.Never has The Twilight Zone portrayed the future more accurately than this. One of the best aspects of the show was an ability to present a cogent argument about what is normal anyway and why should it always be considered good? In some ways Marilyn Cuberle is like a daughter of the Serling written 'Obsolete Man'.Marilyn is interestingly caught between following the example of her free thinking late father and joining the 'normal'. Attributed to great sci-fi writer Charles Beaumont (suffering from Alzheimers by then), really written by John Tomerlin. I don't think anyone could satirize modern culture today better than this early Sixtie's vision of a youth obsessed world.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Conformity was a recurring theme in the series, always treated as a
problem. Well, consider the period. The 1950s were enjoyable in many
ways -- the streets were safer, all the girls were virgins, divorce was
uncommon, our goals were clear, we had a common enemy. But its downside
was that, when all was said and done, everybody held pretty much the
same values and aspired to the same life style, at least until
challenged by the Beatniks and existentialists. Nobody wore a beard
except bums and ancient professors. This story reflects the values of
Collin Wilcox Paxton is a 19-year-old girl whose time for her physical and mental transformation has come. Paxton isn't exactly ugly but she's no beauty either. You may remember what she looked like when she was Mayella, the false accuser, in "To Kill a Mockingbird." The time is now here for her to choose what she will look like and think like. She has her choice of about a dozen models, apparently, all of them beautiful and shallow.
The men undergo transformation too, but they all seem to have chosen to look like Richard Long. As a result, Long has to play three or four different roles of varying importance. The central role is that of the guy who manages the transformation unit. And Long does something odd with the character. He makes him effete, almost a stereotype of a gay hairdresser. Not too obviously, of course, but in the pitch of his voice, his port de bras, the way he tucks his pinky into the corner of his mouth. I assume this was deliberate because he's never done any similar bits of business in other roles, either in this story or in his films. It's a neat touch that enables us to tell that although the characters are similar after their transformation, they're not identical.
Paxton objects strenuously. Love and internal strength and curiosity and talent are more important than looks. Her father was a great man despite his ordinary appearance. He gave her Aristotle to read. (If he'd given her Plato, she'd be carrying on about accidents and essences.) But she reluctantly chooses to look exactly like her friend, Pamela Austin, which isn't a bad choice if you ask me. Suzie Parker is the lovely mother whose age doesn't show.
It's all a morality tale, of course, which none of us here in the present need. We're far more mature than these stick figures of the future (2000 AD). We're all satisfied with the way we look and think. That's why we have buns of steel, rock-hard abs, thigh gaps and thighmasters, surgically enhanced breasts the size of basketballs, liposuction, anorexia, collagenic lips, Grecian formula five, hair transplants, Viagra, Niagara, steroids, beta testosterone, and about half of high school seniors can't name the correct half century in which the American Civil War was fought.
What a relief that Serling's warning turned out to be unnecessary.
This is truly one of the best Twilight Zone episodes. I absolutely love
every last bit of it. It is eerily similar to the world we live in
today, and for that reason I find it incredible to be from the sixties.
It is almost as if Rod Serling and his wondrous cast of writers had a
crystal ball with which they looked into the future.
As someone said before, there are a series of books by Scott Westerfield entitled "Uglies", "Pretties", "Specials", and "Extras". I read them when I was younger before I ever saw this TZ episode.
It is identical in every way. In fact, I whole heartedly believe Westerfield's mind was sparked by this episode. Otherwise he and this episode's author must have been smoking the same. LOLZ only kidding.
Nevertheless, one of the best TZ hands down--and that is coming from a true fan.
I totally recommend you to watch it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most of the reviews focus on the obvious here, the concept of beauty
and the extremes that people will take to achieve it, as well as the
importance the state or society put upon it. Actually if beauty was the
only thing going on here, the other episode, Eye of the Beholder is
really a much better episode.
But I have always felt that there is a lot more that is going on here, besides the desire to be beautiful. In the end, what was the real shock, was that it wasn't enough just to be beautiful, one had to be forced to believe it. THAT was the scary part.
The girl just wanted to be herself. Yet, in this futuristic society, being oneself was no longer allowed, you had to be what others expected of you. That's the real danger in society, as the dregs of the 60's slowly disappear and we all through the internet and mass media get more and more into group-think, where we're told what we like and don't like, what's appropriate to wear or not, who is to be considered a celebrity or not. That episode was a warning of what may happen in the reaction to the liberal times when it was aired. That we're letting society dictate more and more of what we are to be, shows that much of the message here has been lost.
As we learn more and more about our genetic makeup and what genes can cause problems, and how they can be re-manipulated, the desire to also reduce any future individuality will go hand in hand with the advances of being beautiful. And we won't even realize it.
Here's something I wrote after watching this episode for the 20+ time. It never gets old! Let's conform! "Forced conformity, another ant in the hill. You are one of us. We are all of you. Drink your cup of smiles, take your happy pills. Life is pretty, life is fun! I am all and all are one. Marching to the drum machine without any beat. Matching clothes, matching eyes, matching morals, matching lies. Homogenization will make you complete. Mirror image, carbon copy, plastic nose, a Xerox Barbie! Christian automatic plastic GI Joe gun. March and be saved! Dig a deep grave! Petroleum children in their school uniforms. Don't be different, don't be dumb. Be afraid like everyone! Life is pretty, life is fun! I am all and are one. YOU HAVE LOST YOURSELF!
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