Jordan Peele is having a very good few weeks due to the record-breaking debut of horror film “Us” and the upcoming premiere of his CBS All Access series “The Twilight Zone.” The latter is a reboot of Rod Serling’s iconic science-fiction series, which popularized the anthology format of each episode telling a standalone story with a brand new cast of actors. These days the sci-fi anthology genre is largely owned by Netflix’s “Black Mirror,” which has led some television viewers to question why a “Twilight Zone” reboot is needed in 2019. For Peele, the two shows aren’t exactly identical.
“‘Black Mirror’ is an absolute masterpiece, and we wouldn’t have moved forward with our show if we didn’t identify what is unique to ‘Black Mirror’ and what is unique to ‘Twilight Zone,’” Peele recently told Entertainment Weekly. “One of the easy rules that we made for ourselves is that we don’t have to explore technology — ‘Twilight Zone’ covers everything else the imagination can think of.”
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In the Kumail Nanjiani-starring “Twilight Zone” episode entitled “The Comedian,” the story centers around a struggling stand-up who makes a deal to achieve fame that backfires as aspects of his personal life begin to disappear. According to Peele, this technology-free story is what makes “The Twilight Zone” stand apart from “Black Mirror,” even if both series have science-fiction elements and explore themes of identity, human error, and more.
Nanjiani told EW there is an even bigger difference between “Black Mirror” and the new “Twilight Zone”: “At its core, ‘Black Mirror’ is cynical about humanity—that’s not a dig, I love the show. To me, ‘Twilight Zone,’ no matter how dark the episode, is ultimately optimistic about humanity.”
“Black Mirror” has been described by many as one of the bleaker shows on television. One reason the third season episode “San Junipero” gained so much attention is because it was the rare “Black Mirror” episode that shared an optimistic outlook on humanity, even including a somewhat happy ending. As “Black Mirror” fans wait for the next season to debut later this year, they can check out “The Twilight Zone” on CBS All Access beginning April 1.