Back in 2012, Jordan Peele, along with his friend Keegan-Michael Key, debuted the hit sketch comedy show “Key and Peele. ” After a three-year run on Comedy Central, the show ended, and the pair went on to produce and star in Keanu, with Peele receiving a writing credit as well.
With “Key and Peele” alone, the two had achieved their place among the greats of sketch comedy, but this was just a launching point for what Peele was capable of. His masterful blend of horror, absurd comedy and social commentary creates marvels that can connect with all kinds of audience members.
Since his childhood, Peele has been fascinated with the genre of horror. His horror influences run from the absurd “Gremlins” to the chilling “Jaws.” These classic horror and thriller movies set the stage for the kind of atmosphere Peele tries to achieve, with bits of his classic humor sprinkled in for levity.
The audience’s suspense toward what they don’t know is the perfect place to get a laugh, Peele said in an interview with Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show.”
The humorous moments in his films are expertly placed for maximum laughter or meant to portray a relatable concept to the audience, such as the character of Rod from “Get Out.” This approach to horror sets his two critically and commercially lauded films, “Get Out” and “Us” apart from the pack. However, Peele is not content with his films just standing out; his films make statements
His directorial debut, “Get Out” was not only horrifying but also tackled the tough topics of subtle racism and the larger issues in interactions between black and white people.
Peele depicted the “white liberal” in the Armitage family. One of the standout moments in the movie is when Dean Armitage, the father, tells the main character he would’ve voted for Obama for a third time. This line, while on the surface a humorous attempt by one person to relate to another, is also poking fun at how easy it is to be unintentionally patronizing. Lines like these and others also assist in building up to the horrific revelation of what the Armitages truly intend to do with the main character, Chris Washington.
Following up the masterpiece of horror and social commentary that was “Get Out” seemed to be a daunting task, but Peele arguably one-upped himself with “Us.” Tackling prevalent social issues again, but on a larger scale, “Us” shows the audience the consequences of our inherent fear of the “Other,” said Peele at the post-premiere Q&A at SXSW. By having the home invaders in the film be doppelgangers of the main characters, Peele said, we come to understand that the evil may not lie in the outsiders we don’t understand but in ourselves.
Peele’s presence as a director is strong and the anticipation for his third film will be awaited with bated breath, but the other projects he is at the helm of further supplement his legacy.
As a producer for the reboot of “The Twilight Zone,” he pays homage to a television show that captivated his childhood. While certain episodes certainly outshine others, the pilot episode, “The Comedian,” tells a mesmerizing tale of the loss of humanity that can come with immense power. The second episode, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” tackles the apprehensiveness many Americans have toward foreigners present in air transport. While none of the subsequent episodes have hit the high marks of the first two, the show’s renewal for a second season provides hope for Peele’s faithful tribute to the classic television show.
Aside from the second season renewal of “The Twilight Zone,” Peele is set to produce a remake of the horror classic “Candyman” and a television adaptation of the novel “Lovecraft Country.” With these two screenplays on the horizon and a catalog of thought-provoking movies and television shows in the books, Peele has more than earned his spot as a revered master of entertainment and will continue to do so.