Choosing who to spend your life with is one of the most important things people take. Soulmates, the latest anthology from AMC, takes place in a world where science has theoretically removed any barrier to this choice.
Over the course of six independent episodes, this first anthology season builds a dramatic framework around the existence of what everyone in the conversation refers to as “the test,” a technological development that accesses a person’s genetic makeup to determine their ideal partner. This test (and the results that come from it) leads people to calculate the actions they take in the face of this knowledge. Married couples decide whether or not to stick to their current relationship, single individuals spend their time until the intent to test occurs to them as well, and newly matched couples argue about the relative speed of their commitment to one another.
In theory, that’s all a TV show would need. This tension is the intended vector force for “soulmates,” but in many of these episodes there is a creeping need to stand on another hook. There is nothing inherently wrong with using the test as a guide more than an anchor. But all too often, “Soulmates” spends so much time building from its theoretical premise that it does not always give the viewer a reason to be interested in the times when they seem inside.
Authors / Authors William Bridges and Brett Goldstein seem aware of and study the fundamental questions that will arise from this new reality: “What if a ‘soulmate’ is already married / Is a close friend more than a romantic partner / Is a sociopath / Does not have a chance to meet me Start? “
Often “soulmates” focus their stories in this concrete and familiar dilemma. These characters’ anxiety about how to move forward in a world over which they lose control makes perfect sense. It’s strange then to see the show go “This guy isn’t what he looks like” again and again, especially when this revelation has some amazing results.
The assertion that when searching for a life partner every person is at least slightly anonymous at least one thing. It’s another thing to literally make this on a show that appears over time intent on building its dramatic foundation on the rug tension. This is a world where people are already dealing with the possibility of scientifically proven happiness. Breaking down this point with the weak-compulsive exercises feels like a miscalculation of why the core parts of this series are promising in the first place.
However, a number of these episodes are saved by a collection that fills the emotional and psychological feel that it otherwise would have lacked. The opening chapter is possibly the strongest in the series: With support from Sarah Snook, he makes the best use of the internal turmoil and military turmoil that helped make Chef Roy one of the main pillars of the “Caliphate”. If the Willing / Presumptuous final endpoint between the two main characters in Episode Two is anything other than a tonal catastrophe, it’s because of the subtlety of David Costabelle and Sonya Cassidy. It is the dynamic between Laia Costa, Georgina Campbell and Shamier Anderson that can definitely keep their season special if the episode here doesn’t look like a required preamble. (Meanwhile, here’s another excuse for saying “trigonometry” is still one of the year’s best shows.)
All this makes for a series that enjoys decent acceptance for the characters who choose to audition and very few others. When these stories center on these first-person experiences, there is definitely something to pay attention to. Soulmates touches the raw nerve of loneliness and watching as everyone seems to find satisfaction, if not outright bliss. If there is another common thread to these stories, it is the search for an excuse, alert, or signal from the world, and then the desire for much to go along with the first thing embodied of that desire.
Soulmates has also escaped most of the sci-fi trappings one would expect of showing a boy from such a specific innovation. Aside from slightly more transparent digital displays, virtual screens, and voice commands than usual, this is happening in a reasonably close future environment. For all the distractions the show calls for, an effort is underway here (at least at the start of every episode) to keep this in a somewhat recognizable world.
Although there are episodes with changing scenery – one of the three episodes extending from the Palisades to a Mexican getaway to a country farm – there is still an overall sense of resemblance to the season. For a show that wants to express love as that unpredictable, etheric power, only one of these six stories ends with anything other than a cute streak and a little bow. The more these rings give the sensation of a person outside the edges of the ring itself, the better the show. Often times, though, the “soulmates” program ends up being a case study in two puzzles, and offers no real reason to invest in any ultimate fate of their relationship over the other.
Perhaps the most egregious error in the appreciation that “soulmates” make is the assumption that the audience will not make essential narrative connections within each story. There are enough flashbacks in these episodes to hint that Bridges and Goldstein aren’t actually expecting the audience to pay enough attention over the course of 45 minutes. For every climax that revolves around Chekov’s biographical details, there is a clear response to what anyone watching was supposed to follow the first time he appeared. Many of the characters in “Soulmates” are looking for confidence. This might mean researching more if the show around them contained more of it.
Grade: C +
Season 1 of “Soulmates” airs Monday at 10 pm on AMC.
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