The Twilight Zone and the Human Condition
Eliane Mitchell

18 May 2018

In 1964, The Twilight Zone, aired its last episode, "The Bewitchin' Pool," on CBS. Some argue that the major themes of The Twilight Zone still resonate with modern audiences. What are these themes then, and how are they philosophically driven?

As J.W. McCormack writes in The New York Review of Books, the show's most prevalent themes distill to the following: "'you are not what you took yourself to be,' 'you are not where you thought you were,' and 'beneath the façade of mundane American society lurks a cavalcade of monsters, clones, and robots.'” 

The Twilight Zone is well-known for its twist endings but, for this, he writes, we should not mistake it as espousing a chaotic vision of the world. Rather, the show explores issues of the human condition and even lives by a kind of ethos — of "cosmic order," "social justice," and "benevolent irony." In each episode, these elements often deliver "truths," in new lights, about the world that the protagonists live in.

If you have not seen The Twilight Zone, take caution as this review spoils the endings of a few key episodes; however, if you are familiar with the show, take delight. This review beautifully articulates the historical context from which The Twilight Zone arose and sheds light on how different episodes commented on the nature of American political and social life at the time. You won't regret reading it.

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Comments (1)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, May 18, 2018 -- 12:48 PM

True Story:

True Story:
When my brother attended Ohio State University, in the 1960s, he lived near the campus for a time. The home in which he had a room was owned by an elderly lady by the name of Caldwell. One spring (or summer, I don't remember which), he came into the house and saw a visitor whom he had never met. The gentleman looked eerily familiar, yet Larry could not quite place him with any memory. Later, all became clear, when my brother learned that the stranger was the grandson of his landlady---a man name of Rod Serling.