Number 12 Looks Just Like You
|"Number 12 Looks Just Like You"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Marilyn after transformation
|Episode no.||Season 5
Episode 17 (137 of series)
|Directed by||Abner Biberman|
|Written by||John Tomerlin (adapted from Charles Beaumont's 1952 story "The Beautiful People")|
|Featured music||Stock (from Bernard Herrmann's score for the 1956 CBS Radio Workshop production of "Brave New World")|
|Original air date||January 24, 1964|
In a future society (approximately year 2000 per Serling), all young adults go through a process known as "the Transformation," in which each person's body and face are changed to mimic a physically attractive design chosen from a small selection of numbered models. The process gives everyone a beautiful appearance, slows deterioration due to age and extends a person's lifespan, and makes the recipient immune to any kind of disease.
The motive of the Transformation is social harmony. According to Professor Sig, a psychologist with the Transformation service, "Years before, wiser men than I . . . 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."
Eighteen-year-old Marilyn Cuberle decides not to undergo the Transformation, seeing nothing wrong with her unaltered appearance. Nobody else can understand Marilyn's decision, and those around her are confused by her displeasure with the conformity and shallowness of contemporary life. Her "radical" beliefs were fostered by her now-deceased father, who gave Marilyn banned books and came to regret his own Transformation years earlier, committing suicide upon the loss of his identity. When Marilyn becomes upset, talking about how the transformation makes everyone beautiful and therefore the same as everyone being ugly, they offer her a glass of "Instant Smile".
Despite continued urging from family, doctors, and her best friend, Marilyn is still adamant about refusing the operation. She insists that the leaders of society don't care whether people are beautiful or not, they just want everyone to be the same. Her pleas about the "dignity of the individual human spirit" and how "when everyone is beautiful, no one will be" have no impact. After being driven to tears by the inability of anyone to understand how she feels, she is put through the procedure and (like all the others) is enchanted with the beautiful result.
Dr. Rex, who operated on Marilyn, comments about how some people have problems with the idea of the Transformation but that "improvements" to the procedure now guarantee a positive result, thus indicating that there may be modifications made to the mind as well. Marilyn reappears, looking and thinking exactly like her best friend Valerie. "And the nicest part of all, Val," she gushes, "I look just like you!" The last shots are of her, admiring herself in the mirror and smiling.
This episode highlights Hollywood's age-obsession and youthful looks for women. Although Collin Wilcox (b. 1935) and Suzy Parker (b. 1932) had only a three-year age difference, Wilcox played the daughter of Parker's character.
The 2005 novel Uglies shares several themes with this episode. It also takes place in a future where teens receive an operation to look 'perfect' and live healthier and longer and centers on a girl who initially refuses the operation.
The band The Number Twelve Looks Like You took their name from the title of this episode.
- When Marilyn first walks into Dr. Rex's office, part of her arm is cut off by the split screen process used to enable Suzy Parker to appear on screen as two different characters.
- 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 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0