Number 12 Looks Suspiciously Familiar

Most of you may already know that a Twilight Zone episode from 1964 is an early example of the dystopia presented in Uglies. It’s called “Number 12 Looks Just Like Me,” and is based on a short story by Charles Beaumont called “The Beautiful People.” Some enterprising soul has posted the entire thing to YouTube.


The poster has set the video to not embed, but click below to watch the three parts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Until last night, I hadn’t seen this gem since I was a little kid, so I’d forgotten all the details. Especially the phrase “pure perfection of pigmentation” (appearing 15 seconds into part 2), which is particularly creepy given how white everyone in the episode is. (Despite what the US covers for Uglies suggest, in Tally’s world everyone is racially averaged, or at least pushed toward the middle of the bell curve.) Note also the disturbing moment when the protag’s mother says to her braindeadmaid, “I don’t understand why you people have so much trouble with first names.” Hmm.

I’d also forgotten that in “Number 12” people look so much alike that they need name tags (obviously not the case in Tally’s world—my future is bell curvy, not cookie cutter). Here the facial choices are so limited that all fourteen characters are played by four actors. And what is it about the extreme minimalism of sf sets? Get some frickin’ posters for your walls, future people!

And some, um, better clothes.

Of course, compulsory plastic surgery is a venerable theme in sf. Not surprising, given that the first elective nose job occurred about a century ago, about the same time as H.G. Wells was writing War of the Worlds. (Fun fact: the earliest known skin grafts were performed in India 2800 years ago!) Other early fictional examples of compulsory cosmetic/brain surgery include L.P. Hartley’s 1960 story Facial Justice, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” (1961), and of course Ira Levin’s Stepford Wives (book: 1972; films: 1975, 2004).

But it’s great to see this classic again. Thank you, anonymous copyright-flouting YouTube user!

(And look! The episode’s Wikipedia page mentions Uglies!)

68 thoughts on “Number 12 Looks Suspiciously Familiar

  1. Wow, I’d totally forgotten about that episode. There’s another old episode in which the main character is described as having a birth defect of being hideously deformed, and she is undergoing treatment. Her face is in a cast, and the camera does not show anyone’s face until the end of the episode, when it is revealed that everyone but the main character has a distorted, assymetrical face, and the main character’s face is symmetrical. The title of the episode is “The Eye of the Beholder.”

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  3. OMG!!!!1 That was so scary how it was so much like Uglies!!! Didn’t they even say one of the quotes from the series that is at the begining of each Part in the books? The part when she said “Father once said, ‘If everyone is pretty, then no obdy is'” Or maybe that’s just in the book. But that’s what really reminded me of Uglies! That was cool, because the only other Twilight Zone I’ve ever seen is the one where the Aliens cut off all means of electricity and all the people of crazy and kill each other. But, yeah, that was pretty cool!

  4. That reminded me of Uglies, but the outfits were so unflattering. *shudders* But, yeah, they are more like “cookie-cutter” people.

  5. oh my gosh i actually saw this episode before reading uglies. When my friend first told me about uglies i was all wow that reminds me of an episode of the twilight zone. pretty cool.

  6. I remember that episode, I saw it about a year ago, after I first read Uglies. Thats probably why i like that episode so much.

  7. OMG that was freaky…..Marylyn reminded me of Shay! lol but it’s funny that what back in the sixties they thought was going to happen now…

  8. I resisted reading Uglies even though I’m a Midnighters fan because it seemed like a Twilight Zone ripoff. This episode was one of the six or so I remember from my 4-6 year old existence, when my dad let us watch the series “because it’s good science fiction” in spite of the fact that it was frequently terrifying. I put the Twilight Zone in my Netflix queue so I can finally watch those episodes again. The minimalist sets didn’t matter–the stories mattered. After we read Uglies, my son and I decided that Uglies isn’t a ripoff. The world is a better place because you write in it.

  9. Yeahh… friend was summing Uglies to me and I protested “RIPOFF!!” of that epi, being a twilight zone freak since I was quite young (which might explain some oddities of my personality). I dont really think its a ripoff anymore, because Uglies definately is so different and unique I dont think it was copied – and its not like its a theme thats never been used. heh, apologies, I actually put off reading Uglies for a whole year because I thought you’d ripped off a twilight zone epi. hehe….


  10. This makes me wish I had seen that Twilight Zone marathon.

    There is actually another movie that reminds me a bit of Uglies.
    Everytime I see Logan’s Run I think of the books.

  11. crap, does anyone know if the movie is coming out?
    i want to audition, and i want to know if i should ask my agent to find me the casting call….


  12. Am I the only one here that hasn’t watched Twilight Zone?Cause i feel so alone.(HaHaHa that rhymes.)

  13. I’m actually studying Brave New World for English at the moment, and when I started reading it I made the conection almost immediately. It is quite a good read considering I don’t usually appreciate older texts. Does anyone know if Scott used it as inspiration for Uglies?

  14. Ahhh. I’ll watch these later–as it is, it’s my birthday and I’m sick and wallowing in the depths of self-pity. And I probably need toothpicks to keep my eyes open any longer.

    But huzzah for the reaches of internet fame all the way to Wikipedia! That site can provide endless hours of entertainment, especially when you get into contests with your friends over who can keep it saying that L from Death Note is your love interest the longest without someone else changing it back.

    I have noticed a lot of shows sharing similarities with your general ideas in Uglies, though. Especially anime. xD Because anime never makes any sense.

    Ever seen The Melancholy Haruhi Suzumiya, Scott?

    It’s not my site or anything, I just think you should watch it. I couldn’t help but think of Shay-la. Or at least the concept of Shay from Uglies, while she seems to have more of Special!Shay’s looks. Aliens, time travelers, espers: it’s the kind of stuff that makes me smile.


    Who knows? Maybe one of these days you can do a blog-post about all of these awesome shows out there that share similarities with your even awesome-er (yes, you get a new word) books.

    Speaking of awesome books, I recommend The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor. No idea if you’re into any of that “down the rabbit hole” stuff, but while the reviews were extra harsh, I find the take of ripping up the tradition beliefs of Alice in Wonderland lovely. Hatter Madigan. Oh jeez. THE BEST EVER. Ahem. Besides Zane.

    😀 I’ll recess back to too many Advil and the wonderful escapes of the fandom world, now.

  15. this is so weird!
    i saw this episode on tv the other day and i immediately thought of “uglies”.

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