"The Twilight Zone" Number 12 Looks Just Like You (TV Episode 1964) Poster

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This episode looks just like the 21st century
darrenpearce1112 December 2012
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.
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just as relevant now as ever
jcravens428 July 2008
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.
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AaronCapenBanner7 November 2014
Collin Wilcox stars as 18 year-old Marilyn Cuberle, who is pressured to undergo an operation to transform the way she looks into one of several possibilities. This occurs at 19, but Marilyn doesn't want the operation, feeling she is beautiful the way she is, and because of her late and much loved father, who opposed it. Sadly, he is gone, and Marilyn learns to her existentialist horror that no one in her life, or indeed in society itself any longer, can understand how she feels, and how unbearably alone she really is... Stunning episode turns its sparse production to its advantage, portraying a future society where everyone is expected to be the same in chilling detail. Wilcox delivers an entirely heartfelt, believable performance that makes its inevitable outcome all the more devastating, and may bring a tear to the eye. A perfect companion piece to the more famous 'Eye Of The Beholder', this episode is a masterpiece, whose reputation has at least risen with time. One could substitute beauty with thought and lose none of its point. Holds a mirror to our modern society like no other...
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Great morality play on the value of individuality and the dangers of conformity
jbrooks2-129 May 2006
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.
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Topical episode regarding conformity
chuck-reilly4 January 2008
Warning: 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.
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A High Point of Twilight Zone's Final Season
Aldanoli29 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
By its fifth (and what would become its final) season, Rod Serling's landmark series had grown a bit tired. Many of the season's episodes are either retreads of what had gone before, or are almost unwatchable (think, for example, of "I Am the Night -- Color Me Black," in which a good idea about the spread of evil is rendered hopelessly didactic). The subtlety Serling showed in the early years too often gave way to on-screen homilies.

Yet, there were a surprising number of bright spots -- "In Praise of Pip," "The Masks," "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," "Living Doll." And there is this episode, which has lost none of its thought-provoking power more than 50 years after it was produced.

The show is set, somewhat amusingly today, in the year 2000 -- although the date is less important than the society that writer John Tomerlin has constructed. (The episode is credited to Charles Beaumont, but at the time Beaumont was already overwhelmed by too many writing commitments, not to mention the onset of a frightening mental ailment that could have been a variation on Alzheimer's Disease, even though Beaumont was only in his mid-30s. Beaumont farmed out the script, based on his own short story "The Beautiful People," to Tomerlin, who shared credit with Beaumont even though the script was entirely his.)

In the society depicted in the episode, the main character, Marilyn, brilliantly played by the late Collin Wilcox, is surrounded by people almost too good-looking to be true. Everyone who turns nineteen can undergo a "Transformation" to make them as handsome or beautiful as every one of their friends and neighbors. This sounds like an improvement over the usual dystopian worlds depicted in science fiction (such as in "Logan's Run," where everyone gets killed after a certain birthday) . . . but the effects of a society that places such a premium on good looks is corrosive in subtler ways that are only hinted at for most of the episode.

To save money on actors with speaking parts, the creators cleverly had each actor or actress play several parts, differentiated by name tags; this not only saved money, but had the added benefit of making it seem as if there were only a limited number of "body models" to choose from. So, while one can become "beautiful" after the Transformation, you'll likely end up -- as the title implies -- looking just like your best friend or neighbor.

Wilcox, although hardly unattractive, is still what might be called "plain" compared to the other players, from whom she gets great support. All of the male parts, including her late father as depicted in a photograph, are played by Richard Long, who would go on to "The Big Valley" and "Nanny and the Professor" before his untimely death in 1974. Her best friend Valerie is portrayed by sometime model and occasional actress Pam Austin, who certainly came closer to what might be called an ingénue than Wilcox. And in a clever bit of casting, producer William Froug had the bright idea to hire Suzy Parker. Parker is largely forgotten today, but in the early 1960s was the highest paid model in the United States, typically earning $200 an hour for her work -- which, as the saying goes, was serious money back then.

As the story progresses, Marilyn, who is on the verge of 19, resists undergoing the Transformation, because she was schooled by her father to resist pressure from society -- including the pressure to become beautiful merely because it's what everyone else is doing. Marilyn also suspects that the Transformation will change more than her appearance, and so fights for her right to remain as she was born -- much to the consternation of her mother, her best friend, and her doctor, all of whom cannot understand why a young woman would not want to become stunningly beautiful.

Unlike some episodes that relied on now-primitive-looking special effects, what makes "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" special is that it really relies on no special effects at all (except for a few split-screens that allow the same actor or actress to appear to be in the same scene twice). The story is all in the dialogue and the psychology, as Marilyn resists this supposedly wonderful Transformation, while everyone around her seems to believe that she must simply be a little addled, and just needs to "see the light."

And unlike some of the series' later episodes that descended into preaching, the message here comes across quietly, allowing the viewer to reach his or her own conclusions. It also brings up some disturbing questions about the ongoing importance of personal appearance in our real world -- a message more pertinent today than in 1964, with ever more effective means of plastic surgery, botox, hair restoration, and the like, the better to "improve" what nature has given you.
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One of My Favorites
chelseamccarty-cm12 August 2013
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.
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Prescient Futuristic Tale
MichaelMartinDeSapio11 December 2015
This dystopian tale of a future society dominated by superficiality and conformism hits very close to home. Much of what was presaged on THE TWILIGHT ZONE has come to pass, and one feels this particularly acutely with "Number 12 Looks Just Like You." Never mind that Collin Wilcox' appearance and hairstyle eerily foreshadow the '70's (the episode was made in 1963); the more crucial point is that we are fast evolving into a society very much like the one depicted in the episode. True, we haven't gone as far as signing into law mandatory cosmetic "transformations." But we are not much less stultified than the zombie-like human beings portrayed here. Obsession with youth? Check; see middle-aged mothers trying to look like their teenaged daughters. Narcissistic? Check; walk down a city street today and see the young people: pale androgynous figures ambling along in unisex clothing (rather like the spandex jumpsuits worn in the episode), eyes fixed upon their electronic devices, anesthetized in total self-absorption. Lack of emotion? Check; as television and movies attest, we are evolving into a culture wrapped in a gauze of snark, in which sincerity of feeling barely exists. A post-literate age? Check; bookstores are closing down, libraries are doubling as computer labs, and school children are fed political propaganda instead of the classics. Our motto could well be Val's in this episode: "Life is pretty, life is fun, I am all and all is one."

It has been often said that "Number 12" is a meditation on beauty and individuality. I would argue further that it is a meditation on the true *nature* of beauty. Is beauty merely a pleasant symmetrical arrangement of features; or are character and personality essential elements? The synthetic kind of beauty represented by Lana and Val, while outwardly alluring, turns out to be vapid because it is not animated by feeling and intelligence - qualities possessed in abundance by Marilyn. Marilyn is a lone flame burning in the encroaching darkness; will the darkness overcome her?

The episode maintains a successful balance between futuristic camp and serious socio-philosophical content. Among all the principals, Wilcox shines brightly as Marilyn, and it's a pleasure to see Richard Long again (after his buoyant performance in Season 3's "Person or Persons Unknown"). I can't go so far as to say that "Number 12 Is Just Like You" represents TZ at its very finest as another reviewer stated; visually I find it a bit flat and lacking the pure cinematic brilliance of other ZONES. But whatever the episode's shortcomings from an aesthetic standpoint, it jumps to the head of the pack of the most prescient, ahead-of-its-time episodes the series produced.

In sum: unsettling as it may be to say, "Number 12" looks just like us.
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Another Take on Conformity.
Robert J. Maxwell25 April 2013
Warning: 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 the 50s.

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.
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The Beautiful People?
telegonus25 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I just happened to catch Number 12 Looks Just Like You last night, almost by accident, had seen it many times before and always found it decent enough but too typical of The Twilight Zone to be truly memorable. This time it played like one of the best of the entire series.

The story is simple: set in the not too distant future, a plain looking woman, Marilyn, is being urged by everyone she knows to undergo a medical procedure of some sort that will transform her into a beautiful person. Better still, she'll be happy all the time, or so she'd told; and she'll live longer and be healthier than if she doesn't undergo the procedure.

Alas, the young woman doesn't want to be changed or altered in any way. She may not be the happiest of campers but she values her identity, even if it means not being beautiful, more than her outward appearance. Marilyn is an individualist, and she names a few authors who influenced her decision and is criticized for not being with it. The great thinkers were yesterday, and it's a different world now.

It's a strange, topsy turvy world we see in this episode: everyone looks like everyone else but Marilyn, the plain jane. On the one hand, Marilyn is told she has the freedom of choice,--this is insisted upon--and yet people continually to badger her, urging her to get the happy life that lies ahead by changing the way she looks.

Marilyn, for her part, cares less about how she looks than who she is. The others don't understand this. It's an odd case of the "grownups",--just about everyone else--telling the "child", Marilyn, that she's not only wrong but that the wisdom she values is actually holding her back, inhibiting her "development". For all this, Marilyn comes across as the most mature person in the episode even as she's treated like a stubborn child by all the others.

When this episode was new, a little more than fifty years ago, it must have played as rather dull and preachy (all talk, plain sets, no aliens, no action sequences), and indeed it is a moral tale, not a fun one. However, this time around it chilled me to the bone. We're far closer to the dystopian world presented in the episode than one would ever have imagined a half-century ago.

Appearance is everything, television commercials tell us; and so many ads are youth and beauty oriented these days as to make one wonder if the average viewer thinks of anything else. Talk shows, when The Twilight Zone was first broadcast, often actually featured conversations, of intelligent people discussing ideas. Now they're mostly celebrity driven, with the talk, such as it can be called, consisting largely of one-liners.

Viewed from 21st century perspective, I find Number 12 Looks Just Like You disturbingly prescient. The future it presents isn't much like today outwardly, but inwardly,--psychologically, emotionally, spiritually--it's spot on as to predicting what will be preoccupying people's minds in the future.

No, the world hasn't gone to the dogs, nor to hell in a handbasket, not literally; but those values humans once held dear do seem to be slowly slipping away. We're a far more conformist society than we ever were in the past, and even throwaway, seemingly innocuous turns of phrase ("get with the system", "not on the same page") can have ominous implications when directed at a person's individuality and sense of self.
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Young rebellious girl does not want mandatory plastic surgery in order to confirm to society
apassionforbooks28 September 2007
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 heroine—a rebellious girl named Tally who has not yet undergone the operation—appealed to teen readers, who eagerly followed her evolving saga...." I have not read the book but it sounds like this Twilight Zone episode.
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No one can make you go through the transformation...
aliases-5333418 February 2016
But what is wrong with you if you don't want to? This is the social price that we pay for not conforming, when people are buffled with our unwillingness to take part in something that is mainstream. The idea depicted in this episode, is merely an example for the perils of an individual mind in our society. The story of Marilyn is so easy to relate. In some societies you would be an outsider if you did not want to have plastic surgery to achieve a certain standard, and in other societies you would be an outsider if you did not want to get married or have children... It all comes down to people being judgemental. And perhaps the story of Marilyn is so sad because it is too familiar.
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"Am I very homely now?"
classicsoncall11 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Most of Serling's Twilight Zone stories had a way of making us think and did so in an entertaining way. Every so often, he would offer a tale that involved multi-layered meanings, like "Eye of the Beholder" which is similar to this one. Approaching the half century mark since this first aired, I'm truly impressed by Serling's vision here, along with writers Beaumont and Tomerlin. Not only does the story serve as a warning against the encroaching power of the State, but it levels a warning alarm against those who rally for social justice by advocating not for equal opportunity, but for equal results. They would have you believe that 'Life is pretty, life is fun, I am all and all is one'.

The reality, as our protagonist Marilyn Cuberle (Collin Wilcox) sees it, is that being the same as everybody is like being nobody. The 'Transformation' is designed to eliminate personal defects (those revolting skin eruptions!) while instilling a renewed sense of confidence and self esteem. As long as that's the only thing one has to worry about, all those pesky works by Shakespeare, Keats and Shelly are merely an annoyance and distraction that might as well be banned. Because she can think for herself, Marilyn is deemed a subversive. But don't worry, Big Brother, Dr. Sigmund Friend is here to help you.

I wish this all didn't sound so familiar going on a half century since the episode first aired. 'Number 12 Looks Just Like You' sounds an awful lot like redistribution of wealth ('When everyone is beautiful, no one will be...') and health care for everyone (equal results, not equal opportunity). Serling's indictment here is just as powerful as the finale of the second season episode 'The Obsolete Man', but sugar coated for less refined tastes. Not to despair though, you can have it, if you wish, with a cup of instant smile.
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Beauty is only be skin deep, Mind control is to the bone.
mhlong2 June 2011
Warning: 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.
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Twilight Zone #12 Looks Just Like You episode ...(SPOILER WARNING) *
dweilermg-19 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
* Gee, I thought Collin Wilcox was cute in a kind of hippy chick way ahead of her time. I found it indeed sad when she was apparently brainwashed losing her integrity when after the transformation she was happy to look like Val. Aa a viewer I respected Marilyn's integrity and wanted her to keep her own look but then TZ usually had a surprise ending sometimes happy, sometimes not so happy. This ending was indeed open to interpretation of viewers.
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Another take on the future of humanity ...
Ray Caliendo4 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
One of my favorite aspects of watching TZ episodes that dealt with the future is to see how close they came, if at all, to actually predicting future events, trends and/or shifts in the human condition. We're now a half-century past the original writings and broadcasting and I find it fascinating to evaluate these episodes in that light.

I'm not sure how prevalent plastic surgery was in the early 60's, but this episode - even if unintentionally - is spot on in terms of it's - albeit oversimplified - view of the future of human superficiality and vanity. Although not quite at the level at which they speculated, our technology now permits vanity to reach unchecked levels.

One look at a "housewives of so and so" show, where most of them seem to have been surgically and cosmetically altered into one prototype or another may convince you that the TZ, at least on occasion, really did have a uncanny gift for future insight.

The only disappointment and mystery, for me at least, is how quickly the girl, after being portrayed as some paragon independence and integrity, morphs into lock step conformity.
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Interesting idea but not enough for the length of the episode.
MartinHafer4 October 2009
"Number 12 Looks Just Like You" is a sci-fi episode where people are expected to get plastic surgery when they are teens. Instead of just making you look better here or there, people are able to choose which of about a dozen different models they can become. Then, they are remade EXACTLY like these models. Naturally, this would be very confusing and there would be millions of you walking about the planet. And, what happens when a plain looking girl is happy with how she looks and says 'no' to the procedure?!

While I would never argue that "Night Gallery" was a better show than "The Twilight Zone" (mostly because Rod Serling didn't write most of the Night Gallery segments--he was there only to introduce them), one advantage "Night Gallery" clearly had was its format. Within its one hour format, episodes could last anywhere from five minutes to the entire episode. So, ideas that could be told quickly were not stretched out to ridiculous length. However, there were quite a few episodes of "The Twilight Zone" that had wonderful ideas (like this particular episode and "Eye of the Beholder") but stretched for the length of the full episode they seemed to lose much of their punch. So, had this story been shorter, I might have scored it a 7 or 8.
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Let's Conform!
leekostik1335 January 2015
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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Another Brave New World Ripoff
Hitchcoc16 December 2008
This episode is fine though some may find it unsatisfying. In it, all people are made to look like clones of one another, right down to their hair styles. Of course, there's a rebel in the ranks who has been reading Plato. She wants to avoid the requirement that everyone must go through. The state doesn't like this very much. Brave New World and 1984 were books that were widely read in the sixties, a rebirth of government invading every facet of our lives. It may be true that we do spend way too much time on looking good, and we do reward beauty too much, but there is a trade off for these things as well. Would we every want to be a society of porcelain dolls? It is a tribute to Rod Serling that he doesn't take the easy way out on this issue. It's just we've seen this general theme a couple times in earlier episodes.
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Welcome to Idiocracy, Folks, we've arrived...
ARNK12 December 2016
"When a butterfly flaps its wings in Alabama, it ends up causing a storm in.....umm, a different part of Alabama. And when the link on a chain breaks, we end up being greatly amused at the antics of our friend." - Bubble Wrap For Brains

You didn't weigh the chain did you doc? Fitting in is weak if it's not who you are. What are you, the master of chains? Slavery ended long ago, don't try and control other people with chains simply because you're the one who actually feels them.

You have to belong..that's as weak as your "butterfly in Alabama" analogy. You're what the episode was about, and that's tragic.
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