Rod Serling became a cultural icon, both in front of and behind the television screen, as the creator and presenter of The Twilight Zone. Now, Jordan Peele is reviving the series for a new generation but appears reluctant to take on Serling’s onscreen narrator role. We’re here to say: Do it!
In an interview with Variety, Peele talked about his fear and hesitation in adapting The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access. Even though Serling’s sci-fi anthology series is one of his favorites, Peele said he was “terrified” to tackle it himself, leading him to first reject the idea. He eventually came on board after talking over his enthusiasm for the speculative anthology genre (which has seen a revival thanks to Netflix’s Black Mirror) with co-executive producer Simon Kinberg, who had been attached to a possible CBS reboot for years.
“The realization, for me, was that it was an opportunity to attempt to continue with Serling’s mission,” Peele says. “If we approach it without ego and sort of bow to Serling, that will hopefully suffice for our fellow Twilight Zone fans but also bring back a show that I think is needed right now. Because it’s a show that has always helped us look at ourselves, hold a mirror up to society.”
Peele appears so dedicated to honoring Serling’s legacy that it’s actually leading him to the idea that he shouldn’t take on the narrator role that Serling embodied in the original series. Variety reports that Peele “has resisted—but not ruled out” the idea of serving as The Twilight Zone’s new presenter. You might think it’s because The Emoji Movie turned him off of acting, seemingly for good, but it’s actually because he’s concerned that his history in comedy will lead people to not take him or the show seriously, which would do a disservice to Serling’s vision. Peele said that the show will have an on-camera presenter, but it might not be him.
I’m here to say bollocks to that! Peele would be absolutely fantastic as The Twilight Zone’s new presenter. Not only would he be great, but it would also better serve Serling’s legacy by continuing the tradition he started. I can already see Peele embodying Serling’s warm and inviting—yet slightly disquieting—method of bringing people into a strangely familiar world for 30 minutes at a time. And a pox on anyone who can’t get over the fact that he often does comedy.
Jordan Peele, we trust you to honor and continue Rod Serling’s legacy, both behind the scenes and in front of our faces. We definitely hope you reconsider.