Warning: Contains Spoilers; just in case you haven’t seen a television show that aired in the 1960s.
My favorite television series of all time is Twilight Zone. It was extremely difficult to pick just 5 episodes for this list. I know I left out many fantastic episodes. This show has to be one of the greatest story telling mediums of all time. The guise of Science Fiction draws you in, and the lessons are so easily understood – yet so easily forgotten.
1. Where Is Everybody? Season 1, Episode 1 (1959)
This episode is extremely important, not only because it was the first episode aired, but because of its lesson of the human mind.
A man finds himself completely alone in an unfamiliar town. He tries to find any human being and runs around going crazy to find just one person to talk to. At the end of the episode, you learn that the man is actually an astronaut and has been hallucinating. It was test to see how long a man could go without any human contact – on a trip to the moon.
That’s the lesson here: human beings need other human beings. Just the simplicity of talking and being with others everyday, we take advantage of.
2. The Hitch-Hiker Season 1, Episode 16 (1960)
The Hitch-Hiker is one of the scariest episodes. A woman is traveling cross country from New York to California. However, everywhere she goes, she is followed by a strange hitchhiking man. Being followed by anyone can strike fear into anyone’s heart.
We learn at the end of the episode that the woman had actually died in a car accident and that the man was trying to lead her to the other side. The episode portrays the fear of dying and trying to escape from death, but even going across the country cannot stop death.
3. The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street Season 1, Episode 22 (1960)
I think this may be my favorite episode of this series. Electronics on a street named MapleStreet myseteriously stop working. The neighbors, while trying to figure out the cause, quickly turn coat and start to blame each other.
It is scary to think about how fast your family and friends can turn to mass hysteria and violence because of fear. At the end, we learn that aliens had started the experiment to show that humankind will destroy themselves and that they did not have to do anything.
This episode rings true at any time during our history and present times. Fear is an extremely powerful and dangerous emotion. It can destroy humankind.
4. Eye of the Beholder Season 2, Episode 6 (1960)
Currently, with the rise of the internet and social media, this episode is extremely relevant.
A woman has undergone several surgeries to make her ‘beautiful’. She is in the hospital after undergoing the last surgery, and if it does not work, she will have to leave and live with others who are ‘ugly’ like her. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that the doctors and nurses, to us – the audience, are ‘ugly’ pig faces. And the patient is quite beautiful. But she sees herself as ‘ugly’ and so does society.
At the end, the woman leaves with another man who looks like her – human. This is an important lesson no matter who you are, how old you are, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
5. The Obsolete Man Season 2, Episode 29 (1961)
This episode tells the story of a man, a librarian, who is deemed obsolete by a totalitarian government. There are no more books, so having a librarian is considered obsolete and must be execruted.
The important lesson here is that no matter how hard certain groups or governments try to erase love, happiness, history, art – they will never be able to rid the world of it. And how just one man can remind a ‘powerful’ group of that.
The other important lesson is how people who think they have power, who can deem someone else worthless, who can sentence people to death – how they can deal with the same labels and sentences.
The Twilight Zone is television show that portrays important lessons to all. Lessons that we all seem to forget. No matter how old, or how wise we think we are – sometimes we need a reminder.