The thing is, we don’t have to imagine it: The spread of the novel coronavirus has brought about a new status quo, where social distancing is vital to the health of the population. Every new headline is a reminder of how the world has shifted overnight.
For those who haven’t seen Rod Serling’s original anthology series, the show asks its audience: “What if?”
What if aliens invaded your town, and it was impossible to discern humans from extraterrestrials?
What if a nuclear explosion gave you all the time in the world, but no one to share it with?
What if no one believed you when you said something very dangerous was on the wing of your airplane, while you’re already cruising at 20,000 feet?
Each episode of The Twilight Zone came with a moral lesson — often a dark one. People, no matter how crazy the circumstance they are put in, tend to behave as humans tend to do. For better, or for worse.
Yet I don’t feel particularly cynical when I watch The Twilight Zone, even during these less-than-uplifting times. Holding up a mirror to humanity means we can recognize when we’re not at our best. We can correct course as necessary. We don’t have to panic, turn other people into scapegoats, or, alternatively, pull the wool over our eyes and pretend nothing is happening at all. Serling created a way to check our most basic human tendencies, ideally, so we can rise above them.
So wash your hands and then watch these surprisingly relevant Twilight Zone episodes and mull on exactly the lessons Serling wanted to teach us. They’re all on Netflix.