Twilight Zone – Number Twelve Looks Just Like You

★★★★★ January 24, 1964 Season 5 Episode 17

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Personally, I think this is one of the most important Twilight Zone episodes ever made. It could have been made now. 

This one is deeply disturbing and not in a monster or twist sense…it tackles an issue that still is going strong. Did Rod Serling have a crystal ball or did he see where everything was going?  This episode takes place in the 21st century and yes, it is very relatable now. In a time now where our cars, houses, and clothes look the same you could see this coming and with plastic sugery it is essentially here. On our phones, computers, tv’s, and magazines we are hit with a barrage of advertising aimed at beautifying ourselves. We are obssessed with celebrities looking perfect and mimicking them. We can lose our identity if we are not careful as a whole. 

There is a line in the episode where the lead character says “Is that good being like everybody? Isn’t that the same as being nobody?” and that line speaks volumes. The episode is about when a person turns 19, he or she must choose which body and face they want to go through life with. All the choices are basically models and they are forced to go through with this operation. However, it’s not only the body and face that is changed, it’s their outlook and personality. They are always shallow and happy because no deep thoughts are allowed. The lead character Marilyn Cuberle is billiantly played by Collin Wilcox and you feel like she is alone in the world.

The episode is not about beauty. It’s not about if you are beautiful you are automatically shallow. I think people have misread it through the years. It’s about conforming to the social norm. There is the social price that we pay for not conforming, but I would rather pay it with intrest than go along with the crowd. In a world where everything is beautiful, nothing is. 

*** I apologize for interupting here but this is a personal reflection on what this episode means to me. The quote at the top “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson is the most important quote I’ve ever read. I found it in high school and later on I was wrote up at work (I don’t work at that place now) because I had it on my computer desktop. I was not “part of the team” with thoughts like that. ***

IMDB Trivia: All the characters are named after conventionally beautiful film stars of the day: Lana for Lana Turner, Marilyn for Marilyn Monroe, Grace for Grace Kelly, Rex for Rex Harrison, Eva for Eva Marie Saint, Valerie for Valerie Allen.

Three separate characters – Uncle Rick, Dr. Rex, and Dr. Sigmund Friend – were identical in appearance, but were distinctly different as portrayed by Richard Long. Uncle Rick was kindly and down-to-earth; Dr. Rex was eerily good-natured, with some peculiar mannerisms; and “Sigmund Friend” was a Freud-like, ominous and shadowy character with a thick German accent.

This episode is reported to be the inspiration for “Uglies”, a 21st Century series of young adult science fiction novels by Scott Westerfeld.

When Marilyn shows her mother Lana a picture of herself (Lana) before her own “Transformation,” the picture is of Collin Wilcox with a different hairstyle. Wilcox was herself twenty-eight years old when she made this episode (and just two years younger than Suzy Parker), but the premise made it possible for her to be credible as a nineteen-year-old.

This episode is based on Charles Beaumont’s short story, “The Beautiful People”, which first appeared in the September 1952 issue of the science fiction magazine “If”.

This show was written by Charles Beaumont, John Tomerlin, and Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Given the chance, what young girl wouldn’t happily exchange a plain face for a lovely one? What girl could refuse the opportunity to be beautiful? For want of a better estimate, let’s call it the year 2000. At any rate, imagine a time in the future where science has developed the means of giving everyone the face and body he dreams of. It may not happen tomorrow, but it happens now, in The Twilight Zone.

Summary

As Marilyn Cuberle approaches her 19th birthday she faces a momentous decision. Like everyone else in this futuristic society, she must choose which look she will adopt in the transformation process. Here, all men and women look like one of a series of approved faces, all are beautiful or handsome. Marilyn doesn’t want to change her appearance and is happy to look different from anyone else. Everyone assures her that she is under no obligation to undergo the transformation – but they go out of their way to make it difficult for her to say no.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Portrait of a young lady in love – with herself. Improbable? Perhaps. But in an age of plastic surgery, body building and an infinity of cosmetics, let us hesitate to say impossible. These, and other strange blessings, may be waiting in the future, which, after all, is The Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Collin Wilcox…Marilyn Cuberle
Suzy Parker…Lana Cuberle / Eva / Doe / Grace / Jane / Patient / Number 12
Richard Long…Uncle Rick / Dr. Rex / Sigmund Friend / Dr. Tom / Tad / Jack / Attendant
Pam Austin…Valerie / Marilyn (after transformation) / Number…

 

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

18 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”

  1. Max, I love this episode also. I like how they go into what happened with her dad, who was a “nonconformist.” As I read through your post something stood out about the transformations of the females vs. the males. With the females, after transformation they were all the same, happy and shallow, but you point out that the males, they all looked the same but had very different personalities. Things that make me go hm? About what happened to you at your old job, wow is all I can say. Actually written up is danged scary. I remember how important it was to conform when I was at work; it’s a miracle I survived 25 years there. That and the union and meticulous documentation!

    You’re right, the pressure to conform is greater than it ever was. I see Serling as a prophet. Ironically it is the machines themselves (tv, computer, phone, radio, mass-printed magazines) that are promoting that idealized image of what is beautiful, ugly, acceptable, unacceptable, etc.

    What the machines can’t stop is our independent thought, and also ironically, it is via them that us non-conformists can connect with each other in blogland (at least as long as we have electricity!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right…her dad told her this after he changed. He seemed to be an exception…the other men there were different but didn’t read or have many interests…they did portray them different though than the women. The hired help… that is one thing I saw….she treated that lady awful with rolling her eyes.

      Oh I had a new boss…before him I hung the moon with these people…he didn’t like me….he acted like a used car salesman. He and another person saw that on my computer and a week later called me into HR. The HR person looked confused but went with it. I was in shock…but I would not bend in my belief in the quote. Around 2 months later I left for where I am now when they offered me a job for 15 grand more a year.

      It is much worse now….I never mentioned social media…that makes it that much harder.

      As I grew up…I found out that my music taste was the start of it..it was a decade behind and it started from there. When in High School I felt more in tune with my teachers than my peers for the most part…but I had great friends!

      I have taught Bailey…it’s alright to be different if that is what you like and follow your own drummer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you are your own person and that you and Jen have passed that on to Bailey. I have tried to teach my own kids the same way. Their dad had different lessons to teach them and I think for the most part we did ok by them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. high praise from you, given how good many episodes are, but sounds relevant … one I will be looking for for sure. At first I thought it was the one where the girl is really cute but the others hate her because they think she’s ugly, but I see this is a different one.He put out a lot with great morals or bottom-lines that were thinkers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes…I love the message he was getting across in this one. I think in today’s world with social media…people have more pressure to conform…especially teenagers….and they shouldn’t.
      It is similar to the other one but not in a shocking way like unveiling her face etc.

      Like

  3. Great episode. I remember it. TZ had a few that were exceptional, Shatner on the plane, James Colbourn in the town after a holocaust and Burgess Meredith alone with his books, and of course Agnes Morehead killing the small astronauts on her roof. The actress, Collin Willcox was also the daughter that was supposedly assaulted in the movie To Kill A Mockingbird. She played her parts well.

    Like

  4. Excellent quote. Excellent commentary. There is a reason we get along.

    I never was good at fitting in. I’ve always been a square peg. I remember my mother taking me to get a hair cut. She wanted me to have the Dorothy Hamill style. The poor girl could not make my mother happy as my hair was far too thick and wavy for that cut.

    My mother was the conforming type…bleached hair, boob job… She so disliked herself and she tried to teach me to do the same.

    I can’t believe you got written up for a quote…

    This is very applicable to today…just add in mask zombies and vax nazis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Vic

      With me I think it started with the music I liked and worked from there when I started liking things out of time with everyone else.
      If a new thing…whatever it might have been…came out…if I liked it then fine but most of the time I didn’t.

      Yep a quote…I couldn’t believe it…that made me believe the quote even more.

      Yea…I’ve known people who would change personalities just to date a person they wanted to date…no way for me.

      Like

      1. Thanks to my mother’s personal psychosis, as an early teen, I would change myself a bit for a cute boy. It wouldn’t last long…my square peg corners would always come out. 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea I know one guy who started to listen to Hank Jr because a girl liked it not him…I laughed my ass off at him…it lasted all of a week lol.

        Like

  5. This sounds like a great episode. The theme reminds me a bit of the Stepford Wives.

    So many people are obsessed with physical beauty when all that really matters is what’s inside of you. Plus, who defines physical beauty in the first place? Frankly, tall and skinny Caucasian models aren’t my thing – strictly physically speaking!

    Liked by 1 person

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