★★★★★ 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.
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.
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…