Jordan Peele Reveals Writing Tactic Behind ‘The Twilight Zone’
Jordan Peele – still riding the wave of his satirical horror Us – now presents audiences with his reimagining of The Twilight Zone, which premiered April 1, 2019, on CBS All Access.
Jordan Peele is a master at interweaving seemingly inappropriate, but somehow exquisitely fitting, comedic elements into his horror movies (as he did in both Get Out and Us). However, both Get Out and Us were original screenplays, while The Twilight Zone is the Comedy Central alumn and horror aficionado’s first foray into the world of reboots. And as for this finicky revival realm, there exists a particular set of challenges.
Following in the footsteps of the legendary Rod Serling, Jordan Peele’s new venture will be met with high expectations. As the season progresses, fans hope that Peele succeeds at modernizing the material – bringing it into a contemporary social and political landscape – while still paying homage to the show’s original essence.
Previously speaking on behalf of The Twilight Zone, Peele revealed that he felt now was a better time than ever to reintroduce the sci-fi classic, as our current cultural landscape is demanding such material.
During an interview with The Independent, Jordan Peele explained what made the original Twilight Zone such an enjoyable spectacle, and the tactic inherent to the show’s format, and subsequent success. A tactic that he plans to uphold.
Jordan Peele: Use their assumptions against them
Jordan Peele, discussing a valuable lesson that he learned from watching the Serling series, told The Independent, “If you can predict where an audience thinks it’s going to go, you can use it against them. And they’ll love you for it.”
Jordan Peele explains the factor inherent to The Twilight Zone that typified the original series, and, in the end, mattered above all other aspects: the expectation violation.
The expectation violation is straightforward: take what the audience expects to happen, and violate it. Easy enough, right? No. The trick is that, while assumptions must be proven wrong, the ending must still be a logical conclusion. Meaning, in each episode, Jordan Peele has to weave a story that culminates to a finish that is surprising yet inevitable.
While the surprise part is simple, the inevitability has to be grounded in the short span of a single episode. The formation of inevitability must simultaneously lead viewers in the wrong direction and lay the foundation for the actual conclusion. The Serling series mastered this over and over again. Can Jordan Peele rise to the occasion?
Jordan Peele on his favorite episodes from ‘The Twilight Zone’
Jordan Peele explains to The Independent that the first episode of The Twilight Zone he ever saw was “To Serve Man,” in which viewers realize a seemingly benevolent alien race is disguising their human-centric cookbook as a bible. This is when Peele reportedly fell in love with the show.
Continuing on to discuss the type of episodes he found most alluring, he stated:
“I love the ones that, essentially, take someone’s tragic flaw and exploit it. You set up a character and you show their tailor-made worst nightmare.”The Independent
Jordan Peele seems to be a fan of the original series, which – given his knack for this flavor of horror and suspense – should mean that he is the perfect candidate for the daunting job ahead.