Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

“Dead Ringers” claims to be about a pair of doctor twins trying to “change the way women give birth”, but it’s really about a psycho megalomaniac’s unhealthy symbiotic relationship with her sibling. Like the title of the show, the sisters are exactly alike and often swap places with each other.

Based on the 1977 novel by Bari Wood called “Twins” and David Cronenberg’s 1988 film “Dead Ringers”, the 2023 seven episode series have been tweaked for modern times by a bunch of writers. But despite a slew of wordsmiths, the show is slow-burn trash disguised with expensive sets and a dapper cast. Rachel Weisz excellently plays the lead twin characters Beverly Mantle and Elliot Mantle, both of who are assholes, one in a loud and obvious manner, the other in a subtle but insidious way. Weisz actually delivers an award-worthy performance, too bad the characters are terrible and the script gets increasingly frustrating. It took me almost a week to finish the show and I also needed to watch something more fun in between to mitigate the headache “Dead Ringers” gave me.

That’s not to say the entire series was terrible, some of the dialogue writing was fantastic, but a lot of it was irritating. The plot, centered around the sisters’ desire to revolutionize the childbirth process, can keep some viewers hooked until the end to find out if they achieve their goals. The cinematography is vivid, stark and the creators don’t hold back on the blood and mess that comes with deliveries. In fact, during the first episode, which features intense scenes of women screaming, bleeding, and ejecting bloodied babies, I found myself clutching my stomach while watching.

However, the medical aspects of the show take a backseat to the personal and psychological dynamics between the sisters, who live together and have never been in a stable relationship with anyone. Rachel Weisz skillfully distinguishes between Elliot and Beverly, both of whom are often described as “brilliant.” Elliot, portrayed with loose hair, is reckless, free-spirited, and constantly sleeping with new people, including the husbands of her patients. She lacks respect for others but excels at maintaining appearances and steering conversations. On the other hand, Beverly is more serious and inhibited, with a slightly stronger moral compass than her sister. But like their father says in one scene – they are both “awful girls”. The sisters’ relationship is put to test when Beverly begins to fall in love with Genevieve (Britne Oldford), a beautiful actor and starts to distance herself from Elliot.

One of the most intriguing characters in the series is Greta, portrayed by Poppy Liu; a young Asian-American, works for the twins but engages in some shady activities behind their backs. Jennifer Ehle is snappy as Rebecca, a corrupt capitalist businesswoman who invests in the sisters’ birthing center after a lot of unpleasant drama and debates about the duplicity of the “socially conscious”. Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine’s portrayal of journalist Silas Jordan is oddly annoying, as he is initially assigned to write a flattering piece on the brilliant Mantle twins but gradually uncovers their darker sides. At one point, the show pays tribute to the black women who were brutally experimented upon by the real-life doctor Marion Sims, known as the father of gynecology, during the 1800s. This acknowledgment of the historical atrocities committed by Marion Sims is commendable. However, the inclusion of this tribute feels somewhat exploitative, as it doesn’t significantly impact the plot, serving only to provide a superficial sense of weightiness.

“Dead Ringers” is categorized as a thriller/horror series, it lacks significant mystery and doesn’t possess the elements necessary to be a true horror show. At best, it may frighten viewers into reconsidering having children and potentially disturb those with twin siblings due to the portrayal of twins.

You can stream the series on Prime Video.

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