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They Live Remake Imagined by I Saw the TV Glow Director

They Live Remake Imagined by I Saw the TV Glow Director


  • I Saw the TV Glow
    director Jane Schoenbrun contemplates a remake of John Carpenter’s
    They Live
    , flipping the script to reflect late capitalism.
  • Schoenbrun’s proposed remake of
    They Live
    would portray a world where the aliens have won and everyone is resigned to the fact.
  • While
    They Live
    was panned at first, it’s now seen as a radical critique of capitalism and media influence — ripe for a doomer remake.

I Saw the TV Glow has just begun its slow theatrical rollout, with a much wider release coming May 17. There’s been a lot of hype about the hazy, anhedonic, post-vaporwave, anti-capitalist aesthetic of filmmaker Jane Schoenbrun after their first feature film, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair. Their next film is yet another original quasi-horror tone poem that elaborates Schoenbrun’s distinctive vision amid the cinematic landscape (so über-hip but anti-awesome). So it’s interesting that the director is toying with an idea for a remake, much-maligned as that word may be. Then again, the remade film would be a good fit for Schoenbrun: John Carpenter’s They Live.

they live

They Live

Release Date
November 23, 1988


Alive Films

Schoenbrun told Will Sayre of MovieWeb:

“I recently came up with an idea that I really liked for a remake. I’m always thinking like, ‘What’s the movie? What’s the property that I would actually have fun with?’
And I came up with a fun idea for a remake of

They Live

Here’s my pitch… The glasses do the opposite thing. Everyone in the world, those are f**king aliens. They’re controlling us. And then there are these glasses, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, these ads are awesome.'”

Call it post-Carpenter, an anti-post-hyphenate-remake of They Live… In the original film, a drifter discovers a clandestine revolutionary group that have created sunglasses which allow people to see the world as it is. In They Live, Earth (or at least America) has been infiltrated by aliens who’ve disguised themselves as humans and use television and media signals to put people into a daze of mindless consumerism. When you put the glasses on, advertisements and billboards are revealed to be subliminal texts like “OBEY,” and money is seen as a piece of paper that reads, “THIS IS YOUR GOD.”

While They Live was largely dismissed upon its 1988 release, it has come to be recognized as a radical work of art. Beneath the cheesy, synth-laden veneer is a searing critique of media consumption, Reaganomics, capitalism, and the police as authoritarian instruments of the state. Schoenbrun’s proposed doomer remake would show that the aliens have essentially won. We all recognize Mark Fisher’s idea of capitalist realism now, we’ve all accepted that we’re manipulated by corporations and political entities, and we’re resigned to the blackpilled realization that we can’t change anything. In this world, the sunglasses would allow us to see revolutionary optimism, or, at the very least, to enjoy the bars of our prison.

Watch Slavoj Žižek’s NYPL Lecture About They Live:

Schoenbrun Elaborates on Remaking They Live

Schoenbrun’s I Saw the TV Glow has been getting, well, glowing reviews from people who, well, saw it. You can check out some images from the film above. After our interview, Schoenbrun elaborated on the remake idea to Variety more coherently:

“Although, I did just tell Justice earlier today my idea for a They Live remake, which is to do it, but the glasses do the opposite thing.
Everyone’s like, ‘Yep, the aliens are controlling us. They’re telling us to obey.’
And then you get these glasses and you put them on, and you’re just like, ‘Whoa, those ads look awesome!’ Because that’s the world we all live in.”

I’m so viscerally disgusted by 95% of the things that I have to do to promote this movie.
To operate in these hallowed halls of capitalism and not feel absolutely insane, it requires some kind of taking the red pill. Or privilege-tinted sunglasses.”

A They Live sequel has been teased before by various people involved with the project. Time will tell if Schoenbrun will ever helm a remake of They Live (or They Die, or They Don’t Live, or We’ve Lived, or They Live 2 Die, or whatever the film would be called), or whatever their post-I Saw the TV Glow, post-sophomore film career will look like. It would certainly be more interesting than a typical studio effort. In the meantime, you can see I Saw the TV Glow in limited theaters now from A24, with a wider expansion on May 17.

I Saw the TV Glow poster

I Saw the TV Glow


Release Date
May 3, 2024

Jane Schoenbrun

1h 40m

Jane Schoenbrun

Smudge Films , Fruit Tree

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