If you could find out, scientifically, who your perfect match is…Would you? That is the question that sci-fi drama series Soulmates dares to ask. Across six self-contained stories, the anthology drama explores this dilemma from the perspective of people from all walks of life, both young and old, single and already romantically-involved – even those who are married. The result is a thought-provoking set of tales that certainly have a lot of great ideas, but sadly, can’t match them with the execution.
It may be unsurprising to learn that Black Mirror alum William Bridges is part of the creative force behind the series (alongside more surprising co-creator Brett Goldstein of Ted Lasso fame), as Soulmates is clearly modelling itself on Charlie Brooker’s much-loved anthology series. Indeed, the entire first series of Soulmates would’ve been better suited as one of Black Mirror’s feature-length entries. Stretching this premise over six episodes (with a second season to follow) does no favours, instead resulting in a tedious and frustratingly repetitive exploration of the show’s interesting premise. It feels like the same themes are dealt with on several occasions and it begins to become something of a slog, even at only six 45minute parts.
Performances across the board are terrific, with an ensemble cast all putting in superb work. One Night in Miami’s Kingsley Ben-Adir is superb alongside Succession’s Sarah Snook in the premiere episode, while Pennywise himself Bill Skarsgård reminds us once again he’s more than just a child-slaughtering clown. But there’s only so much the cast can do with the oft-mediocre dialogue and drawn-out narratives, while bland, by-the-numbers direction does very little to bring the material to life either. The whole thing just feels desperate and forced, with the stellar cast utterly wasted. Asking a lot of big questions and failing to even come close to answering them satisfactorily, Soulmates is another one of those poorly-executed ideas that could – and indeed should – have been far better than it is.
Soulmates’ biggest flaw is how derivative it feels of Black Mirror, and indeed how much it pales in comparison across the board. As the second season was greenlit before the first even aired, the powers that be had obviously hoped that this would be Black Mirror 2.0 too. Alas, it feels more like a copycat with far less of the former’s intelligence and thought-provoking impact.
Soulmates: Season One is a bland, derivative affair that quickly becomes a slog. Perhaps the second season will probe deeper into the premise’s rich potential and offer up something to really make us think – and not to reach for the remote to switch over to Black Mirror.