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The Twilight Zone: "Not All Men" S1.E7 (Review)

The science fiction anthology The Twilight Zone has returned to television, CBS All Access' streaming service. Originally aired in 1959, The Twilight Zone has been revived twice, and this is the third attempt to recreate the magic of the original series. We'll be reviewing the first season. Today, the seventh episode, "Not All Men."

Mark Twain once said the essence of good writing is a simple story well-told. That's what I thought about the episode "Not All Men," and it's probably my favorite of the new series so far. It does what the original Twilight Zone did, which is tackling a social problem through a sci-fi lens, allowing you to see it from a new perspective. For instance, Cold War paranoia was filtered through the lens of an alien invasion in "The Monsters Are Due On Mulberry Street." With "Not All Men," we get a story about women and toxic masculinity.

The story follows Annie (Taissa Farmiga) who works in a small-town office where she tends to do whatever is asked of her. When she agrees to have dinner and watch a meteor shower with a co-worker Dylan (Luke Kirby), he starts getting too aggressive, and she leaves. As she flees the house, she sees him yelling and punching in frustration. She's relieved to have gotten away, but the next morning at work, she discovers that Dylan will be supervising her, and she dreads having to interact with him.

This would all make a setup for a really good story about workplace dating and sexual harassment. But this is the Twilight Zone, and that innocent meteor shower brings strange rocks crashing into the town that causes people to grow more aggressive.

No, not people in general. Men.

It's not long before Annie and other women in the town notice that the male citizens seem to be getting angrier and fighting more until the whole community explodes into a full-blown riot. As men everywhere seem to be screaming, punching, and killing everything in sight, Annie is forced out of her comfort zone to try to survive.

This episode is brilliant in its simplicity: what if you made a horror movie where the monsters are men? Not drooling male monsters with claws and fangs. They're just...men. Men with red eyes, but men who cheer on violence, enjoy beating people up, grabbing women's body parts, and yelling at their wives for not listening. In other words, the men become the worst expression of what women fear most about them.

Within this story, the writers managed to get a surprising number of hot-button issues rolled into it. There's the "nice guy" who turns out to be a jerk. There's the date that goes too far, and the uncomfortable desperation of a woman trying to get out of it without getting hurt. There's the "fight club" mentality of men who hurt each other for the fun of it. There's the question of whether masculinity itself is harmful. And then there's the title where Annie and the other women struggle to find out which men they can trust, and whether all the men have been infected or "not all men."

I'm sure the Red Pill crowd would call this episode nothing but anti-male propaganda by feminists, and would immediately blurt out "Not all men are bad," and that's kind of the point. The episode invites discussion and debate which is what Twilight Zone is supposed to do.

Also, while I found the episode scary and fun, "Not All Men" had my wife white-knuckled with terror, showing me that "Not All Men" tapped into a very real fear that all of us need to deal with. I could easily see it becoming a full two-hour movie because I thought it ended too soon.

What did you think of The Twilight Zone? Let us know in the comments below!

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