‘The One’: Netflix’s new ‘Black Mirror’ questions what would happen if genetics helped us find our soul mates
A singular hodgepodge of thriller, sci-fi style everyday ‘Black Mirror’ and soft romantic drama make up the ingredients of the new British series from StudioCanal distributed by Netflix. And without a doubt these are issues that affect us very closely, because just a few days after its premiere, the first season of this series has risen to the Top of the most viewed on the platform.
Its secret lies in the fact that under a general thriller plot and a structure with jumps to the past where we get to know more and more of the ambiguous protagonists, a series of secondary characters are displayed affected by the dystopian invention The One. Initially, they are only connected to each other by Very lightly, but each one experiences personal circumstances that the service / business that gives the fiction its title affects in very different ways. And in all cases, dIn the same way he did ‘Black Mirror’, it forces the reader to ask with each turn of the script “What would I do if …?”
The plot revolves around The One, a system that in just a few months has completely changed society’s perception of personal relationships. Is about a scientific method that is capable, without a doubt and using genetics, to determine who our soul mate is. Indeed, that category is not a matter of romantic poems, but pure science: who is destined to be a couple is a quantifiable question, and The One decides it perfectly.
We will meet in this first season Rebecca Web (an appropriately mysterious Hannah Ware), CEO of the company that markets this application of genetics, and that gets caught up in a criminal investigation when the body of an old friend turns up. Not only is she peppered with suspicion, but also a former partner and co-discoverer of the invention that has made them millionaires. Meanwhile, society tries to manage in very different ways the change without going back from the traditional ways of knowing and falling in love.
When genetics is the algorithm
There is a clear parallel between the method used by The One, based on genetics, and dating apps like Tinder, which analyze the tastes and affinities of users, and match those who use them with compatible people. How our way of seeing relationships is changing, increasingly mediated by the internet and because of our new uses and customs in the virtual world, in a world in which “going out to flirt at the bar” is almost out of date, is one of the questions that the series puts on the table.
To raise different points of view, ‘The One’ describes different relationships between various match, what are these ideal couples according to genetics, after a prior and voluntary request. What happens when only one of us knows what has done match with someone? What if they both know, but one of them is lying about everything? And the most interesting hypothesis, affecting a journalist investigating Webb: won’t the infallibility of The One cause cracks in seemingly happy relationships, but not blessed by genetics?
All this is exposed very effectively already in the original novel in which the series is inspired, by John Marrs, and which has been adapted for the screen by Howard Overman (‘Misfits’). The police investigation that reveals murky details about the origin of The One establishes a common thread for the plot, but what is really interesting is the slight sci-fi nuance of the plot, which shows how science is capable of modifying, for better or for worse, firmly ingrained social customs.
Without being a perfect production (there is a lack of logic in the sometimes very arbitrary police investigation, and the dangerousness of a database to cross with genetic data could be exploited further), ‘The One’ abounds in good ideas . Y some quite challenging, such as the concept that the “soul mate” is something that exists scientifically. The clash between faith (because that idealized vision of love, in the end, is a matter of faith) and reason has always been fuel for the best dystopias. ‘The One’ doesn’t go that far, but it’s certainly exploring in the right areas.