This Classic Television Episode Inspired Jordan Peele: “It’s terrifying”

Jordan Peele

There was nothing quite like being in elementary and middle school, commemorating the start of a new year with an evening marathon of The Twilight Zone on the Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi, I miss it) channel. Over the years, I’d wager I’ve seen every episode, from the famous (The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street) to the more underrated (An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge).

I mean, it’s The Twilight Zone. What more is there to say? For his part, Jordan Peele not only revitalized the series on CBS, developing and producing a new iteration (the third such revival since the 1980s), but he also drew inspiration from one particular episode when working on his sophomore feature, the criminally underrated Us.

Per Tubi: On a vacation in Santa Cruz, California, a family fights for their lives against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.

It’s controversial, I know, but if I had to rank Jordan Peele’s three genre outings, it would have to go Nope, Us, and Get Out. Now, make no mistake since they’re all incredible, but Us and Nope especially just hit differently. There’s a scale and brazen creativity that I feel more inclined to return to time and time again. All three of Jordan Peele’s features cull from The Twilight Zone in some capacity, but Us has one of the more curious sources of inspiration.

In an interview with Rolling Stone before the premiere of Us, Peele shared that the Season 1 episode Mirror Image was central in his mind as he developed Us. “It’s terrifying, beautiful, really elegant storytelling,” he said of the classic episode in which Vera Miles fears a copy of herself at a bus station plans to replace her.

The Twilight Zone does a lot well, though it’s those paranoia-fueled episodes (especially those starring Golden Age icons) that really resonate. Peele continued, adding that the episode resonated so deeply, that he feared the idea of encountering his doppelganger, thus accounting for the trust of Us whereupon a family is besieged by their underground doubles.

It’s remarkable storytelling from Peele, inspired by a remarkable episode of classic horror television. What do you think? Where does Jordan Peele’s Us rank for you? How do you feel about The Mirror? Let me know over on Twitter @Chadiscollins.



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