Twilight Zone Episodes Based on My Existential Suburban Anxieties
Who’s a Good Girl?: Two women stand in a park with their backs to the camera, their dogs playing in the distance. We hear two voices discussing the weather and sharing cute pet stories. One of the women throws a Frisbee and both dogs scramble to catch it as it flies into a wooded area at the edge of the park. As the dogs root around the woods, we hear the voices again, though there is no sign of the owners here. One is having trouble training her pet to wake up in the morning and feed her, the other wishes her pet’s offspring would stop leaving their smelly socks all over the floor at night. The dogs emerge from the wood with the Frisbee and approach their human “owners,” who we see from the front for the first time, scratching behind their ears and sniffing each other’s hair. A close-up of their eyes reveal them to be a solid, impenetrable brown — the eyes of an animal. They are the pets, we realize; the dogs were always the ones talking.
Latte for Becca: Half a dozen people stand around the bar at a Starbucks. When the barista announces a latte for Becca, no one moves. Again the barista calls out the drink, but still no one steps forward. The barista grows frustrated and the patrons attempt to help by asking each other questions that might reveal the identity of the mystery customer. As they do, they begin to discover oddly parallel details about their lives: They all had a dog named Rusty as a child, a scar on their left elbow, were all born in the same town, on the same date, to the same parents, and all of their names are Becca, a fact they all seem to realize at the same instant. They turn to inform the barista of their discovery, only to realize that they are looking into a multi-way mirror, and the person in each reflection is the barista herself, wearing a nametag that says “Becca.” She and her reflections all bang on the mirror as though each is trapped inside, then, terrified, they flee, knocking over the mirror-image cups, their contents spilling on the respective counters, the name scrawled on the side, misspelled with one “c.”
Saved By the Bell: A mother waits at the back of a long carpool line. The bell rings but no one emerges from the school. Assuming that perhaps there was an assembly that ran late, the woman waits in her car, listening to NPR Science Friday — which she doesn’t even particularly like — until her children emerge. After ten more minutes with no sign of anyone, the woman turns off her engine and gets out to investigate. As she walks up the carpool line, she peers into the other cars and finds them empty. She checks them one by one — the cars are running, in some the radio is still on (one is tuned to Science Friday, which makes her hypocritically judge the absent driver) but no one is there. She enters the school and discovers that it is empty too. She begins to panic, running from classroom to empty classroom. In the principal’s office she finds a phone receiver off the hook and beeping. She hangs it up then hears the faint sound of a voice in the background. She follows the sound to a television on a wheeled-in cart in the kindergarten classroom. A video is playing, and a man in a lab coat on the screen is describing the discovery of a weapon that can vaporize all human life in an instant, and warning of its imminent deployment by a rogue regime. She suddenly realizes that the episode of Science Friday she was listening to was a rerun.
Refresh Your Timeline: A woman wakes up to thousands of notifications to her tweet about The Bachelorette from the previous night. It’s been picked up by Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post, and, according to her timeline, Ellen even read it on her show that morning. She texts her best friend to tell her the news of her internet stardom, but the message doesn’t go through. She tries to call her husband but it goes to voicemail. She gets dressed and walks down the street to her local convenient store to tell the owner the story of her overnight semi-stardom, but he looks at her confused and says he’s never heard of anything called “Twitter.” She takes out her phone to show him, and he jumps back, terrified. When she holds out the phone to try to show him the app, he crosses himself and threatens to call the sheriff if she comes any closer. Confused, she runs out of the store and is met by a horse and buggy passing by on the street, and past it, across the street, a row of wooden buildings with signs reading “Hardware,” “Saloon,” “Apothecary.” She looks down and sees that she is dressed in a long dress and a shawl, and is newly aware of the sensation of a corset pressing against her ribs. She looks down at her phone in her hand. The top left corner of the screen bears the words “No Service.” She looks up again, and a single bright blue bird flies overhead.
A Whole New You: Upon entering her local barre studio for her first class, a young mother is welcomed by the staff with broad smiles and is asked to fill out a questionnaire that is, she notes in passing, remarkably detailed. As she walks into class, she notices that everyone looks eerily similar, but attributes this phenomenon to the transformative power of the proprietary workout. But after having three almost identical conversations with three different young mothers about how grateful they are for the opportunity that barre has given them to live the life they’ve always wanted, the woman grows suspicious. As class starts the teacher walks past, a small square of skin hinges opening to reveal what appears to be a tangle of wires inside. Terrified, the young mother attempts to flee, but is stopped at the front door by the proprietor who reveals the studio’s dark secret: All of the real women have been cryogenically frozen and replaced by robots who are able to live the lives they never could. The detailed questionnaire she filled out earlier will be used to program her robot to be as lifelike as possible. “My husband will save me!” the woman protests. “You fool,” The proprietor laughs, “he’ll be too grateful for the upgrade to notice.” The young mother screams as darkness envelops her. In the final scene, a woman arrives home from barre class looking just like the robots from the studio, though a close up of a family portrait reveals that it is the home of the young mother herself. Seemingly unfazed by her change in appearance, her husband asks how class was, and she replies that it’s given her the life she’s always wanted. They kiss. She smiles.