WandaVision can be seen to parallel many shows from the past, but its ties to one especially unsettling episode of The Twilight Zone may take viewers by surprise. In fact, surprise seems a key aim of the show, given the Disney+ series began as a somewhat confusing sitcom-esque show – which just happened to feature the somehow revived Vision – and slowly descended into chaos as it became clear what was going on behind the scenes.
Though it’s not been made explicitly clear what is happening in Westview, it is clear that the residents are being controlled to behave in cheesy sitcom-appropriate manners, and that Wanda is responsible for this to a worrying degree, even if she ultimately isn’t the mastermind behind it all. It appears Wanda has set up this universe in accordance with what she’d wanted from her life, explaining Vision suddenly being alive, the pair having twins that age up in the span of a few days, and explains why the town is so eerily quaint. However, based on the breakdowns of several of the town’s residents – from Herb cutting through a brick wall accidentally to an unnamed woman at the town’s edge weeping while she repetitively is forced to do the same inane tasks like a background character in a sitcom – it’s clear Westview’s residents are both aware of their situation, and horrified at it.
The whole scenario bears a striking resemblance to one of the most terrifying episodes of The Twilight Zone to ever air – that of season 1, episode 73, “It’s A Good Life”. The episode revolves around the town of Peaksville, which has been separated from the rest of the universe by the reality-warping powers of the six-year-old Anthony Fremont. Due to his abilities – and his habit of sending anyone who displeases him to a cornfield they cannot return from – the town lives in fear of Anthony, although find themselves unable to express this in order to avoid his wrath. In order to appease the child, Peaksville’s inhabitants pretend he is their hero, constantly praising him for doing things that realistically upset them. With this in mind, both WandaVision and The Twilight Zone show a surreal but decidedly uncomfortable setting wherein a seemingly wholesome town actually has the frightened residents pretending to be content with their lot to avoid facing punishment by the reality-warping individual who controls their lives. Worse yet, neither of these individuals fully appear to understand that what they are doing is wrong – as Wanda appears to consider any bad aspects of Westview a fair trade for giving those in it “happy” lives, and Anthony physically doesn’t understand that his actions are that of a pint-sized tyrant.
Admittedly, Wanda is somewhat better of a force to face than Fremont, as she merely ejects Monica from Westview back into the real world after she becomes displeased with her – whereas Anthony turns a man into a jack-in-the-box, which seems a significantly worse fate. However, WandaVision’s reality-warper isn’t morally superior to Anthony, because she knows far better than a child that forcing other people to bend to your whims and removing their control over themselves is diabolical behavior. This can be partially excused with the fact that the show makes it very clear Scarlet Witch is suffering through a lifetime’s worth of trauma during this time, but it doesn’t change the fact that she knows she’s not doing anything for the right reasons. She’s aware that Vision would never want something like this to take place, even if it was the only way to keep him alive, and thus her actions in regards to Westview’s residents are both tragic awful.
It’s unclear if WandaVision intentionally made itself similar to this episode of The Twilight Zone or not – but given its current track record for referencing and resembling other popular shows of the past, it’s either a wonderful homage or a happy accident. That said, hopefully the residents of Westview are at least allowed a happier ending than the doomed inhabitants of Peaksville, or WandaVision will be the MCU’s darkest work to date.