Netflix’s Emmy-winning series was inspired by the classic Twilight Zone, and is arguably the only anthology sci-fi show since the 1960s-era classic to compare favorably to it (as previous efforts to reboot The Twilight Zone itself were seen as disappointments and other shows with the format were similarly viewed as less-than).
Peele and Kinberg note they’re big fans of Black Mirror and had to get it clear in their minds what made their show distinct and created at least one rule for themselves when choosing scripts.
“One of the questions that comes early on when you’re thinking of doing The Twilight Zone is: In a Black Mirror world, what is the show?” Peele says. “Black Mirror is an absolute masterpiece, and we wouldn’t have moved forward with our show if we didn’t identify what is unique to Black Mirror and what is unique to Twilight Zone. One of the easy rules that we made for ourselves is that we don’t have to explore technology — Twilight Zone covers everything else the imagination can think of. Black Mirror is f—ing nailing the dystopic state of technology and how mankind fails when submitting to it. I appreciate the darkness of Black Mirror. I think Twilight Zone has a darkness, but it has a spectrum of tone in terms of how it’s meant to make you feel at the end.”
Added Kinberg: “We’re all huge fans of Black Mirror, so there’s that going in. We don’t feel nervous about competing with Black Mirror — we feel daunted enough about being compared to the original Twilight Zone. But we are aware that there could be a comparison. Black Mirror stakes out different territory because it really is so focused on modern technology. We’re really much more focused on moral, social justice, political issues that don’t necessarily rely on new technology.”
Actor Kumail Nanjiani, who stars in the new Twilight Zone episode “The Comedian,” had some thoughts as well. “At its core, Black Mirror is cynical about humanity — that’s not a dig, I love the show,” he says. “To me, Twilight Zone, no matter how dark the episode, is ultimately optimistic about humanity.”
For more on the new Twilight Zone, read our full story going behind the scenes with Jordan Peele and the cast.