This The Twilight Zone review contains spoilers.
The Twilight Zone Season 2 Episode 10
The Twilight Zone was always a little bit hokey and that is a part of its charm. It was often stylized, sometimes funny, frequently heightened and not always realistic. We can’t criticize it for that. But season 2 episode 10 ‘You Might Also Like’ is a melee of all of the above in ways that largely speaking don’t work at all; the humor doesn’t land, the story requires Bond-villain-style exposition for it to even make sense and the satire is heavy handed and mean spirited. A low point for a show which overall has had more hits than misses.
Gretchen Mol stars as Janet Warren, a wealthy housewife and mother whose husband and kids don’t seem to be in the picture. She’s suffering from black outs – moments where she hears strange sounds and wakes up in bed fully clothed with time missing. Meanwhile her social circle is obsessed with a new release – their ‘family’s egg’ a mysterious new…. something…. that will apparently make ‘everything ok again, forever’. Each family is appointed an ‘hour of fulfilment’ at which time they can collect their family’s egg – what is it and why would anyone want it? No one knows, and, well, just because ‘it’s coming out’, we’re told.
A satire on consumerism which imagines advertising is now so subliminal that it’s in fact beamed into our unconscious minds by aliens who want to kill us, it’s a very broad point to make, and also quite a basic one which sees humans as vapid machines, buying stuff to make up for the sadness and injustices in the world. A subplot around a stillborn child feels insensitive, heavy handed and out of place in an episode with no gravitas whatsoever.
That it’s venturing into Black Mirror terrority, aping Apple ads, doesn’t help either – it just reminds you how much more nuanced Charlie Brooker’s take on the subject would have been – though of course that show owes a debt to the original Twilight Zone. It’s also vaguely reminiscent of not very good Buffy Season 2 episode “Bad Eggs” though even that had a slightly less bleak outlook on the human race. Though to take “You Might Also Like” seriously as an indictment of consumer culture is perhaps unfair – the episode never really plays as anything more than fluff. If series one of The Twilight Zone was criticised for being too woke, there’s none of that here. In fact one ‘take me to your supervisor’ moment feels like it’s directly in dialogue with the social media concept of a ‘Karen’.
Mol and Greta Lee (the ‘sweet birthday baby!’ woman from Russian Doll) who stars as her judgemental frenemy, play for laughs in a heightened reality largely confined to Janet’s house and garden which takes place over a day. Meanwhile Janet’s alien abductions are a reference to the 1962 episode of the original Twilight Zone ‘To Serve Man’ and involved the alien race the Kanamits who in ‘To Serve Man’ purport to be saving the world with their advanced technology but instead are farming humans to eat. Now they’re using their superior intellect to destroy humanity altogether.
It’s a cute detail for fans of the original show who should get a kick out of finding out what the Kanamits have been up to all these decades and a not-funny-on-its-own joke about KFC works better with context.
This episode is written and directed by Oz Perkins who made decent Shirley Jackson influenced Netflix movie I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House and understated but very effective horror The Blackcoat’s Daughter and it feels quite far removed from his other work which errs on the side of subtle and atmospheric. While it’s a loving tribute to the show that launched a thousand sci-fi anthologies it feels like it’s hewn to the letter of the original but perhaps not the spirit. It’s playful at its best but at its worst it’s a clunky story lacking tension or atmosphere that’s told rather than shown. That it looks like those involved had a good time with it doesn’t mean the audience will have the same experience.