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The Show Women Have Been Waiting For — Dead Ringers (TV Review)

3 min read

How many times have women been told they “can't” — and how quickly has that become boring?

Whether that's in an actor's career, a sentiment felt around the writer's room table, or something uttered by a dollar-crazed millionaire to two identical twins who want to change the world of birthing, the answer is a short fuse. and 's , however, has had enough. Following gynecologists Dr Beverly and Elliot Mantle (also known as Rachel Tweisz) in their efforts to open an independent birthing centre, the show isn't only a graphically detailed examination of an altogether immaculate conception, it's a visceral layer cake of existence. When female representation is of a high calibre in a film or TV show, we're often quick to comment on why it scratches a typically superficial social itch. Dead Ringers uproots that concept and disrupts it from its core. 

Fans of the original 1988 film of the same name needn't be concerned. Its TV counterpart serves as its own unique animal, resembling nothing of the traditional adaption we've come to be collectively wary of. In hindsight, it makes complete sense for the Mantle twins to always have been women. By taking away the construct of patriarchy (though it's still looming in the background), Weisz 1 and 2 subconsciously critique and comment on a woman's existence just by being authentically them. Beverly, the inwardly inquisitive twin who has unexpectedly fallen for actress and patient Genevieve (played exquisitely by ), puts her morals and science first, with her sister's happiness not too far behind. Elliot, the unpredictable and barrier-breaking second twin, is hedonism wrapped in human form, indulging in pleasure in every form it comes in. Both twins are publicly criticised for their natural-feeling choices, being told their dreams are too boring, or too far-fetched. Their love for the other is written off as unnatural, or too much of a distraction to industry profit. In retaliation, the Mantles have their cake and eat it — which is even true of their disastrous downfall.

Women — like all of us — are flawed. Aside from its beautifully twisted visual style and wicked 80s soundtrack, Dead Ringers excels itself by spilling its guts on the table. Babies' heads are reared from vaginas in full view, cocaine is consumed on toilet fixings and laboratory surfaces, and falafels from a truck are inhaled without taking breath. Visually, the show is not a spectacle for the faint-hearted, yet in some way, neither is its narrative. It's possibly the first time an audience is able to see women effectively be everything, and it's not always a pretty sight. Elliot is cruel, jealous when not able to consume Genevieve in the way her sister has earned the privilege to do. Beverly is withdrawn, often unable to stand up to the matters that need setting straight. Their benefactor Rebecca () is an abhorrent being without empathy, assembling an inner circle which reflects the notions of making quick hard cash without morals. A hard pill to swallow for a format that prefers the Elizabeth Benets to the female Logan Roys. 

This co-existence of womanhood and discomfort is completely down to the piping-hot partnership of writer Alice Birch and actress and producer Rachel Weisz. Birch clearly revels in her craft, particularly capturing the heightened potential of a dinner scene with effortless aplomb. Rachel is everything we'd expect from her and more, never showing the creative difficulty that must have come with acting alongside herself. Whether it's through subconsciously normalised queer representation, pushing the boundaries of hedonism, or being unafraid to descend into nonsensical chaos, Weisz, Birch, and Dead Ringers prove that everything is best left on the table — even the bits we've been conditioned to shy away from. 

Dead Ringers launches on on Friday 21st April.