Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Twilight Zone: Number 12 Looks Just Like You

The great irony about modern society's standards of beauty is that with all the advances in plastic surgery and the overwhelming media representations of who is considered "hot," more and more so-called beautiful people are interchangeable. How many pretty, blonde pop singers can you tell apart, and how many CW actors can be described as blandly handsome and pale?

"Number 12 Looks Just Like You" takes the idea of beauty and turns it into a totalitarian regime of conformity. This is a future envisioned in which everyone undergoes surgery so they can look like one of a select few physically attractive models. Ugliness is eliminated, and with physical attractiveness comes conformity. Anyone who wants to be themselves must have something wrong with them.

That is Marilyn's (Collin Wilcox) problem. She sees no problem with her unaltered appearance, even though friends, family, and doctors pressure her to undergo "The Transformation." She argues for the dignity of individuality, saying if everyone is beautiful, than no one is. Ultimately, she is forced through the procedure, becoming a happy, brainwashed beauty.

The episode is a strong presentation of the idea of beauty standards and conformity taken to a frightening extreme, and it's disturbingly plausible. Today, the concept is arguably closer to home and worse off. This episode was made before eating disorders, body shaming, and miracle diets really saturated modern culture.

Unfortunately, while it is a cool look at a different kind of sci fi dystopia, dramatically, "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" is inert and predictable, hitting all the beats we expect and holding no surprises. Marilyn defies society, undergoes the treatment, and accepts it. The end. It's a fine episode, but it's more of an intellectual exercise, presenting an argument we have no trouble agreeing with, when what it needs is a punch to the gut, or more accurately, a slap to the face.

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