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Number 12 Looks Just Like You

"Number 12 Looks Just Like You" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

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 when science has developed a means of giving everyone the face and body he dreams of. It may not happen tomorrow—but it happens now in the Twilight Zone.

Synopsis

In a society of the future, Marilyn Cuberle chooses not to undergo The Transformation, which happens to everybody at the age of nineteen and makes them beautiful and immune to disease. To undergo it, a person must choose from a limited collection of models, labeled by a number, to transform into.

Many years before, wise men decided to try to eliminate the reasons for inequality and injustice in the world. They saw that physical unattractiveness was one of the factors that made men hate, so they charged the finest scientific minds with the task of eliminating ugliness in mankind. As they learned to reshape the features and remake the body, they also learned to eliminate most of the causes of illness, and thus to prolong life. Before The Transformation a person could expect to live 70 or 80 or perhaps 90 years, but with The Transformation a person can live two or three times that long. The Transformation must be performed when the body and the tissue are at the proper state, which is at nineteen years old.

Nobody else can understand why Marilyn does not want to undergo The Transformation, but the reason is this: by reading diaries and books (such as those of the Greek philosopher Socrates) owned by her deceased father, she comes to realize that when everyone is beautiful, no one is, because without ugliness there can be no beauty. The leaders of society don't care whether people are beautiful or not, they just want everyone to be the same. Despite the efforts by Marilyn's shallow-minded friend and her mother to coerce her into going through with The Transformation, they ultimately concede to bide by Marilyn's wishes to remain normal. This causes Marilyn to drop her guard, as Marilyn is quickly kidnapped and forced to undergo the procedure against her will. The episode ends with the grim, downbeat ending as it's revealed that the process has not only stripped Marilyn of her old face and body, but her very personality has been altered to make her just like her friends, making her "one" within the community of shallow-minded doppelgängers.

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.

Preview for Next Week's Story

Earl Hamner, Jr. brings his typewriter and his fertile mind back into The Twilight Zone next time with a program about visitors. On the surface they're beatniks - a few raunchy looking characters on motorcycles draw into town one day. But once you meet them, you won't forget them - they're quite different from what they appear. On The Twilight Zone, Lee Kinsolving, Shelley Fabares, and Michael Forest star in "Black Leather Jackets."

Critical response

The final season's "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", set in a future society where everyone is surgically altered to resemble fashion models, is the most insistent of anticonformist diatribia. If the teenage heroine's doomed rebellion against "the transformation" seems unnecessarily strident, the viewer is still brought up short by the original midprogram commercial for "new mild Thrill dish detergent"—a gently waving forest of arms accompanied by the crooning suggestion "How would you like to buy a new pair of hands?" In the context of such shameless advertising ploys, in which doing a sink full of dirty dishes becomes the occasion for entering some Brave New World, Serling begins to seem like a living-room Bertolt Brecht.

Cultural influence

See also

References

  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090

External links

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