INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY ROB is sitting on his couch, second-screening and half paying attention to Episode 4 (or is it 40?) of the badly-reviewed THE ONE on Netflix, which is on the TV in the background. A voice on the TV can be heard clearly. WOMAN'S VOICE You see, when ants mate… ROB What? I wonder if anyone bothered to Google this before they wrote the screenplay? ROB reaches for his LAPTOP, which is next to him, and opens the screen. He types on the sticky keyboard for a few seconds ROB (talking while he types) Do… ants… mate ROB hits RETURN enthusiastically on his keyboard. He reads from the screen while the TV SHOW continues to play in the background. ROB Only the queen ant is capable of mating. She stores the sperm in a pouch until it is needed…
Yet another TV show which is science-fiction-but-not-really, yet another show about (waves hands), send us your DNA and we’ll find your perfect match.
I’ll start with my position on this whole ‘perfect match’ premise: bunk. Sexual attraction and falling in love are determined by two things: the first is proximity and the second is opportunity. There is no The One, no Platonic ideal. It’s just a bunch of people in a position to look at each others’ arses.
Netflix’s latest show has as its premise the idea that a frankly sociopathic, ambitious woman invents a technology that will help people ‘match’ through their DNA (you know, like ants). I don’t know why she wants to do this, other than to make money. It’s certainly not idealism.
In order to test her software, she steals a DNA database. As many reviewers have noted, the show kind of loses interest in its premise after that and is more or less a police procedural (only with the police even more useless, distracted and inappropriate than usual). It doesn’t quite lose that interest, though. It wants to explore what happens when people match (or don’t) – and there’s the rub. Because if it really was as simple of getting within pheromone range of the person whose DNA ‘matches’ with yours, there’d be no story. It’d be happy-ever-after. So, conflict has to be introduced, and peril, and doubt. And the problem with the show is actually this: every decision made by all the characters in the show is irrational and stupid.
It reminded me a bit of Deep Water, the ITV drama I just watched on Britbox. That Lake District-set show required everybody in it to make a series of seriously stupid decisions for its plot to move forward. In The One, characters tell loads of pointless lies and do all kinds of crazy things but nobody seems to be particularly bothered by it all. And the people who run the company, of course, are all single and lonely. Because if they’d found a ‘match’, they’d presumably be happy and not need to go around stabbing each other in the back and neglecting their work. If this all sounds a bit lost and incoherent, it’s because the show itself is.
One thing I did appreciate though: one of the cops investigating a dead body that turns up in episode one barely does any work on the case and actually phones in sick at one point. This was an exciting dash of realism and a change from all the obsessive must-solve-the-case can’t-sleep-won’t-sleep cops in the genre shows.
Anyway, it’s rubbish.