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No, I'm Not The Evil One: Twins on TV


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#1

Lauriestar

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 4:51 AM

From soap opera twists to procedural mysteries, twins are often used as a plot device on television. As a twin, I find myself often annoyed by these portrayals, but sometimes, the writers get it right. This is the thread devoted to discussing the good and the bad of TV twins.

So, to get things started, what were some of the more realistic shows that dealt with twins? I thought Nip/Tuck did a fantastic job in the episode about the conjoined girls.

#2

cheryl1213

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 10:01 AM

L&O (i think it was SVU) did an interesting episode where the twins were identical but due to a botched circumcision one was raised as a girl (and told they were fraternal).

Okay...not high on realism....

#3

Lauriestar

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 10:03 AM

Wait, what? Wouldn't the "female" twin notice s/he wasn't a girl when breasts and menstruation failed come a-knockin?

#4

Sunday Moon

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 10:09 AM

That's actually a true story.

David Reimer

#5

Lauriestar

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 10:16 AM

Jesus. I can't even imagine what that would have been like.

#6

Eegah

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 1:24 PM

The X-Files had quite a few episodes where one or both of a set of twins were evil. Perhaps the most notable was where the evil twin was just a misshapen mass of cells that somehow gained sentience and the ability to separate itself from its brother's body. I've seen a few posts on that board from twins who were unhappy about how often the show went to that well.

#7

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 1:47 PM

One of the lesser eps of Homicide:Life on the Street was when they had a killer driving up to Baltimore, and they arrest him, only to find out it was his twin brother who really did it.

#8

AimingforYoko

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 2:04 PM

Rules for TV Twins:
Male identical twins- The evil one has a goatee (See Knight Rider)
Female identical twins- Will sleep with each other's boyfriends (See any soap ever made)
Female fraternal twins- The quiet and studious one will be brunette and the dumb and slutty one will be blonde. (See Twins)
Male-Female twins- Will move to Beverly Hills from Minnesota and get into all sorts of trouble until the female one goes to England and is never heard from again.

#9

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 2:10 PM

Do chimera's count? Both House and CSI: Original Recipe had episodes last year about chimerism. That is the condition where two separately fertilized eggs, which should develop as fraternal twins, somehow merge and form one human being. In television land this rare phenomenom seems to happen more often than in real life, and the resulting human being is always evil or crazy.

#10

leew261

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 2:28 PM

It's funny that this thread started today, because my girlfriend and I were just talking last night about how both Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie and Samantha from Bewitched had twins (both characters played by the same actress, of course). We couldn't remember the name of Jeannie's twin, but my girlfriend found the answer online: Jeannie. Samantha's twin was named Serena. Both Jeannie II and Serena were troublemakers, if not outright evil.

#11

vildachaia

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 2:32 PM

One of the lesser eps of Homicide:Life on the Street was when they had a killer driving up to Baltimore, and they arrest him, only to find out it was his twin brother who really did it.

Wasn't that a L&O crossover, where the "good twin" was the bad guy?

Both Jeannie II and Serena were troublemakers, if not outright evil.

But Serena belies the blonde=bad girl and brunette=good girl hypothesis.

The weirdest of all still may be "identical cousins" Cathy and Patty Lane.

Edited by vildachaia, May 8, 2008 @ 2:33 PM.


#12

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 2:41 PM

On Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the family secret was that everyone in the family had an evil twin. Sabrina has to compete with her twin to see which is the evil one. Her evil twin gets sent away, but would show up occasionally to cause trouble.

#13

Lauriestar

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 2:45 PM

Or how about the fact that every TV show really hits home the fact that the two are, in fact, twins by having the actors dress in the same clothes.

#14

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 2:54 PM

Speaking of soaps, All My Children has Adam and Stuart, played by the wonderful David Canary. Yes, there are many of the conventions mentioned in this thread, but DC does such a wonderful job making the characters different and not just evil twin/good twin. Case in point: During the storyline where a gay teacher was in Pine Valley, Stuart, who was Forrest Gump years before the book was writren, much less the movie, unintentionally embarrasses his teen-aged adopted son by bringing him his lunch to school. Scott, the son, reacts badly and Stuart is deeply hurt by it. Adam talks to Scott and explains about Stuart's situation and also encourages him to support the teacher.

#15

Mack the Spoon

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 6:32 PM

Cool topic.

I'm a twin, and I'm one of those grumpy people who complains about the evil twins in The X-Files and on lots of (especially sci-fi) shows.

I don't think I've ever seen a show or even a movie where the twins were relatively normal people who happened to be born on the same day from the same mother. At very least, something terribly traumatizing has to happen to one or both of them.

I think the most disturbing "twin thing" I've ever seen on TV was that Cold Case episode where the little girl twins have an abusive father, and the mother tries to run away with them, and the father catches up. He threw one of the girls off a bridge while her sister and mother watched. My whole family was sobbing. I can't watch that show anymore.

#16

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 7:53 PM

In spite of the fact that "All My Children" has played a kind of roulette with the character of Stuart [he's a psychotic killer who Adam keeps in the attic to save him from prison/psychiatric confinement! no, he's severely retarded and never killed anyone! no, he's just simple and good natured! He's really the good twin and Adam is the evil twin! he's a floor wax! he's a dessert topping!] that David Canary does an amazing job in the dual role, and especially at conveying the deep and loving bond between the twins. Even when Adam is being portrayed as 'evil', it is never questioned that he truly loves Stuart and does all he can to help his brother, even if said help is often misguided. Canary has four Emmy Awards for his work on AMC and is up for another this year and as far as I'm concerned deserves them all and more.

#17

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 8:10 PM

There's one thing that sets David Canary's AMC work as Adam & Stuart apart for me. AMC has often had Stuart pretend to be Adam, or Adam pretend to be Stuart, as most twin storylines do - but David Canary makes those scenes work better than anyone I've seen. DC is able to subtly convey to the audience that it is indeed Stuart pretending to be Adam (or vice versa), while believably convincing the other characters in the scene otherwise. There's no need for wardrobe, music, dialogue or voice-over cues - DC always manages to slip in one of the many traits he's made a part of each separate character, in order to tip the audience off. It's a trick I've seen other actors attempt, but DC pulls it off better than anyone I've seen. I fully agree - his awards, past and future, are all well-deserved.

#18

leew261

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 8:54 PM

The weirdest of all still may be "identical cousins" Cathy and Patty Lane.


Actually my girlfriend informs me that Jeannie and Jeannie II were also cousins rather than siblings, although they were both played by Barbara Eden.

#19

MaggieCat

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 9:33 PM

Samantha Stephens and Serena were also identical cousins. Seems it was a theme in the 60s.

#20

JakeyIsSusan

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Posted May 8, 2008 @ 9:51 PM

I'm a twin, so this topic is interesting to me. However, my favorite TV twins will always be the one-dimensional Sherri and Terri from The Simpsons. They're just so MEAN.

The one time I ever thought the evil-twin scenario worked on soaps was Derek and Ben on Sunset Beach during the "Island Killer" storyline, but that may have been because I was in sixth grade.

#21

BondGirl

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 1:08 AM

Samantha Stephens and Serena were also identical cousins. Seems it was a theme in the 60s.


The 90's too. They did it with A Different World (Whitley), and with Martin (Pam).

I HATE episodes set up like that.

I think my favorite set of twins are the Mowry sisters from "Sister, Sister".

#22

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 2:17 AM

I like them too. I didn't care for Sister Sister, but one of them, I think Tia, did a great job as a regular on Strong Medicine, and Tamera guested once....Kayla's sister who was either a junkie or mentally ill and off her meds...very strong performance. Kayla was a little too much on the perfect side, but still a very good job in the role.

#23

Paul Austin

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 3:09 AM

Unfortunately "creepy" twins - and creepy children are still an effective plot device, so don't expect them to disappear anytime soon

#24

Ankai

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 9:04 AM

One thing about the portrayal of identical twins is how, if they are not interchangeable, they have to be so different in order for viewers to tell them apart. One will be good while the other is evil, One will be on the straight and narrow while the other is in the dumps. One is uptight while the other is a rebellious free spirit. They cannot have some similarities outside of accent or parentage. The one possible exception that I can think of off of the bat is that movie with Kim Raver where the child of one of her characters dies...but I did not watch that movie all of the way through, so I am not sure how that turned out.

Does reality television do this too? I have watched a few episodes of Jon and Kate + 8, and the fraternal twins come across as very different. One is relatively quiet, sporty, responsible, and rarely prone to outbursts; the other is obnoxious, devious, uncooperative, domineering, and a little violent towards her little siblings.

#25

cecilia jane

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 9:20 AM

(snip)

Edited by cecilia jane, Jan 14, 2009 @ 3:35 PM.


#26

isiscloud

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 9:47 AM

There was just a Twin plot line on Medium just this week where Miguel Ferrar played "good" and "bad" twins. The good, living twin could be inhabited by the dead, evil twin and the bad one could make the good one do bad things. Make sense yet?

There was also a show a long time ago called Double Trouble with Katey Segal's (from Married with Children) real twin sisters. One of course was quieter and more reserved while the other was more outgoing and a fashion student. It was a cute show.

#27

Lauriestar

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 10:34 AM

One thing about the portrayal of identical twins is how, if they are not interchangeable, they have to be so different in order for viewers to tell them apart. One will be good while the other is evil, One will be on the straight and narrow while the other is in the dumps. One is uptight while the other is a rebellious free spirit. They cannot have some similarities outside of accent or parentage. The one possible exception that I can think of off of the bat is that movie with Kim Raver where the child of one of her characters dies...but I did not watch that movie all of the way through, so I am not sure how that turned out.


So true. That drives me nuts! Like, have writers ever even met a set of twins before? If they have, they should know that twins are never exactly alike or totally different. 99% of the twins I've ever met fall somewhere in the middle. I guess the other 1% are all on TV.

#28

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 2:23 PM

My secret shame--which is probably a different thread--is the TV movie, Deceptions. Twin Trash! Barry Bostwick in all his wooden glory! Jeremy Brett totally slumming! Brenda Freakin' Vaccaro! Gina Lollobrigida for Christ's sake!

More shame--I think Stefanie Powers did a really good job of creating two personalities and working with the twist of the 'good' twin turning out to be the bad, and the 'bad' twin saving the day. Although I must admit I can't see how you can have a truly happy ending when you're taking over the life of your dead twin.

#29

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 3:00 PM

So, instead of just, you know, hiring a set of actual twins, do TPTB have the one actor play both to be cheap? Or for the wacky hijinks of trying to have one person play both people at the same time? Or both?

edited for clarity

Edited by Mussel Bound, May 10, 2008 @ 9:06 PM.


#30

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Posted May 9, 2008 @ 4:17 PM

We just lost one of the Hager twins from "Hee Haw"...Jim, I think. This could go in the Bad TV Movie thread, but they did a TV-movie or pilot or something in the late 70's called "Twin Detectives".

Also, weren't Alf and Ralph Monroe on "Green Acres" twins?