It is a binge as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between watching yet another season of Gilmore Girls and an ill-advised, impromptu viewing of The Grudge. Its duration lies between “No way do I have time for that!” and “Yeah, I’ve got an afternoon to kill.” It is an area of Netflix known only to your queue as… The Twilight Zone.
With Jordan Peele’s reimagining coming to CBS next month and four of the series’ five seasons currently available on Netflix, now is the perfect time to revisit the iconic 1960s sci-fi anthology The Twilight Zone.
But be forewarned, this is one streaming sleeper cell that can and will suck you into its twisted, black-and-white hellscape, an interdimensional place of obsession that you (and all of your spare time) will likely struggle to escape. I should know — I’m still there.
If you’ve previously caught Twilight Zone re-runs on the odd hotel channel, it is unlikely you regard them as particularly addicting. Clocking in at only 25 minutes a pop, these self-contained stories were designed to be seen one at a time by the series’ original weekly audience and, as a result, remain satisfyingly bite-sized for modern viewers.
However, when the anthology and its namesake universe are presented to you all at once as an illustrious wonderland of effective storytelling and deep-seeded nightmares, it’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the antiquated terror.
As Mashable’s Senior Entertainment Reporter Alexis Nedd explained, bingeworthy shows often provide juicy cliffhangers or twists at the end of each episode, developments that impose upon the viewer an immediate need to further uncover the series’ plot by watching the next chapter. While The Twilight Zone lacks a central storyline to employ this exact method of guiding viewers further into its clutches, it achieves the same effect through its unique formatting.
The anthology’s 138 episodes occasionally overlap to retread themes, but remain primarily connected by host and creator Rod Serling’s cryptic intros and outros. Serling and his bookend monologues act as a kind of central circuit breaker to the Twilight Zone’s horrors. His mesmerizing voice and chillingly calm demeanor weave these seemingly separate narratives into one carefully crafted world, designed to poach human fear with deft expertise while providing little explanation for its cruelty.
It will become increasingly difficult to resist breaking out the murder boards and tinfoil hats.
When you binge The Twilight Zone, you finish each episode under the ominous hang of the non-answers provided by Serling. You are repeatedly forced to believe that whatever terrors you have just witnessed occurred to these characters for some indescribable, yet cosmically justifiable reason — and, even more troublingly, accept that similar fates will soon befall others.
As the pressure to swallow the unforgiving nature of the Twilight Zone mounts episode-by-episode, it becomes increasingly difficult to resist breaking out the murder boards and tinfoil hats. In its complete form, The Twilight Zone demands answers with alarming urgency. Despite knowing such answers can never be found, you will want to suss them out, digging deeper and deeper into the series’ archived tales for non-existent clues.
Moreover, watching The Twilight Zone‘s grainy, black-and-white scenes unfold on a modern device adds to the unsettling yet gripping nature of the series. Watching actors and actresses in the 1960s, many of whom are now deceased, portray horror stories with no knowledge that you would be watching their performances decades later feels at best creepy and at worst voyeuristic. The sensation that you shouldn’t be seeing what you’re seeing quickly makes devouring episode-after-episode that much more tempting.
With all that in mind, it may seem as though your Twilight Zone binge is an inevitability. And while that may be true, I implore you, when you do take a moment of reprieve from your streaming marathon, take stock in reality. Appreciate the color of your surroundings, watch a few cat videos, order PostMates, or otherwise indulge in your 2019 luxuries.
If you don’t, the next time Netflix asks, “Are you still watching?” you may begin to wonder whether it’s you or the binge hitting “next” in… The Twilight Zone.