The internet went wild when the first trailer dropped for the Dead Ringers series, starring Rachel Weisz (now streaming on Prime Video), and all that attention is incredibly deserved for this intoxicatingly terrifying show.
What is ‘Dead Ringers’ about?
The Dead Ringers series is based on Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg’s 1988 thriller film of the same name, which stars Jeremy Irons. That movie’s story stemmed from the novel “Twins” by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, and the story of real-life American twin gynecologists, and barbiturate addicts, who were mysteriously found dead in a New York apartment in 1975.
In this take on the story, Irons is essentially replaced with Weisz, playing Elliot and Beverly Mantle.
Elliot and Beverly both work at a hospital but are aspiring to open their own birthing centre, where they can provide more treatment options and conduct more complex and sophisticated research, with some questionable ambitions in terms of medical ethics.
The birthing centre pitch gets the attention of investor Rebecca Parker (Jennifer Ehle), whose family founded a pharmaceutical company. Very much like the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycotin.
While these twins share absolutely everything, when Beverly begins a relationship with Genevieve (Britne Oldford), a rift is caused between the twins.
Is ‘Dead Ringers’ worth watching?
There is no denying that Cronenberg has a uniquely thrilling and horrific style with his films, but this Dead Ringers series takes that to a different, but incredibly effective, interpretation. There’s definitely room for both the Dead Ringers in the world.
Right from the beginning, the series establishes that it will push its audience to embrace the uncomfortable and disturbing. Just around five minutes into the first episode, we see Beverly discover she had a miscarriage, something she has experienced repeatedly. Birthing scenes are shown in great detail and there is a realism in the moments that demonstrate that giving birth can be terrifying, particularly in a rather dehumanizing health system for women.
If you’re tempted to think that making the lead characters women was just to bend gender roles as a tool to modernize a story, that would be an extreme oversimplification. Created by Alice Birch, who was also a writer on Succession, there is something even more enticing about the biology of these two women being accessible as a stronger component of this story.
You don’t see any sanitized depictions of childbirth, like we normally see in TV and movies.
Dead Ringers also tastefully doesn’t shy away from its criticism of Elliot and Beverly’s work at the birthing largely just servicing wealthy, white women, which exposes another aspect of this often capitalistic health system.
Weisz is an absolute force as both Elliot and Beverly, with Elliot being the more brash twin, while Beverly is often more demure. The characters communicate and respond to each other seamlessly. There is absolutely no compromising in the look or feel of these roles, being played by the same actor.
Dead Ringers has an intensity and depth that amplifies the thrill at every turn.