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The Eye of the Beholder

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Episode no.  Season 2 Episode 6
Written by  Rod Serling
Production code  173-3640
Directed by  Douglas Heyes
Featured music  Bernard Herrmann
Original air date  November 11, 1960

"Eye of the Beholder" (also titled "The Private World Of Darkness" when initially rebroadcast in the summer of 1962) is episode 42 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on November 11, 1960 on CBS.


Plot summary

Janet Tyler has undergone her eleventh treatment (the maximum number legally allowed) in an attempt to look normal. Tyler is first shown with her head completely bandaged so that her face cannot be seen. Her face is described as a "pitiful twisted lump of flesh" by the nurses and doctor, whose own faces are always in shadows or off-camera. The outcome of the procedure cannot be known until the bandages are removed. Unable to bear the bandages any longer, Tyler pleads with the doctor and eventually convinces him to remove them early. As he prepares, the doctor develops great empathy for Tyler. The nurse verbally expresses concern for the doctor and that she still is uneasy of Tyler's appearance. The doctor becomes displeased and questions why Tyler or anyone must be judged on their outer beauty. The nurse warns him not to speak so as it is considered treason.

The doctor removes the bandages. The procedure has failed, and her face has undergone no change. The camera pulls back to reveal that she is actually attractive (by the contemporary viewer's standards) and the doctor, nurses and other people in the hospital have large, thick brows, sunken eyes, swollen and twisted lips, and wrinkled noses with extremely large nostrils. Distraught by the failure of the procedure, Tyler runs through the hospital as what is considered normal in this alternate society "state" are revealed. Flat-screen televisions throughout the hospital project an image of the State's leader giving a speech calling for greater conformity.

Eventually, a handsome man (again by the contemporary viewer's standards) named Walter Smith arrives to take the crying, despondent Tyler into exile to a village of her "own kind", where her "ugliness" will not trouble the State. Before the two leave, Smith comforts Tyler, saying that she will find love and belonging in the ghetto and that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".


  • Maxine Stuart as Janet Tyler (under bandages)
  • Donna Douglas as Janet Tyler (unmasked)
  • William D. Gordon as Doctor Bernardi
  • Jennifer Howard as Nurse
  • Edson Stroll as Walter Smith
  • George Keymas as The Leader
  • Joanna Heyes as Nurse #2
  • Production

    The episode was written by Rod Serling, who recycled the theme for a later teleplay "The Different Ones" for his later series Night Gallery. This one takes place in a futuristic world where a disfigured hermit teenage boy is sent on a NASA rocket to a planet where the inhabitants are revealed to look like him. During the transfer he meets a handsome (by our own normal standards) alien youth, who is going to Earth due to his own "disfigurement."

    It was directed by Douglas Heyes. His primary concern, when he was casting the show, was to pick actors with sympathetic voices: to achieve this he cast the episode with his back to the performers.

    Heyes had planned to have Maxine Stuart, who spoke all of the lines of the main character Janet Tyler when her head is entirely covered by bandages, dub the single line spoken by Tyler when she is revealed, portrayed by the actress Donna Douglas. However, Douglas had been listening to Stuart's voice as she recorded her part, and was able to imitate her so successfully that she was allowed to speak the line on camera herself.

    The original title for this episode was "Eye of the Beholder." Stuart Reynolds, a television producer, threatened to sue Serling for the use of the name because at the time he was selling an educational film of the same name to public schools. Reruns following the initial broadcast featured the title screen "The Private World of Darkness." Because CBS consulted different prints over the years for syndication packages, the closing credits for this episode vary from one title to the other depending on which television station is using which package. In The Twilight Zone's original DVD release the syndicated version was marketed as an "alternate version". Other than the appearance of the title itself in the closing credits, however, there are no differences between the two "versions". According to The Twilight Zone Companion this was one of the hardest episodes technically to put on film.


    This episode was re-made for the 2002–03 revival of the series using Serling's original script (but discarding Bernard Herrmann's original score), with Molly Sims cast as Janet and Reggie Hayes as the doctor. The make-up was changed to make the faces look more melted, ghoulish and decayed with deep ridges. The re-make follows the original script more faithfully. The projection screens were changed to plasma screens and more of the dialogue from the Leader's monologue was used.

    This episode, much like other Twilight Zone episodes such as "Time Enough at Last" and "It's a Good Life", has been referenced and parodied on other television shows. A Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Pamela Anderson (credited as "Pamela Lee") features Anderson as the patient, though in a comic twist she and all the male doctors conclude that she is now "hot", to the ire of the nurse who keeps trying to explain why she is not (i.e., she “hangs a lantern” on the logic and message of the original story).

    The opening of the program was sampled and used in Dillinja's 1998 track "Hard Noise".

    This episode is also sampled in the 2010 song "Southern Comfort" by Envy on the Coast.

    This episode is also referenced in the Richard Linklater film Everybody Wants Some!!.


    The Eye of the Beholder Wikipedia

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