For those who loved Black Mirror‘s dark, dystopian view of the tech-dependent world we’re headed towards, Netflix has released a treat with all the same flavours in The One. The series, centred around the titular organisation The One which matches singles with their “one true love” using their DNA, has all the hallmarks of its predecessor, except the drama plays out for an entire season and not just one episode. While some viewers may enjoy that more than others, here’s what we thought of this compelling new show as a whole.
The One follows the story of businesswoman and cofounder of a service that uses as little as a single strand of hair to match users with the one person on earth with whom they’re genetically destined (and designed) to fall in love – Rebecca Webb ( played by Hannah Ware) – as well as the lives of a few of the service’s users. Their lives overlap and become more and more entwined, while the history of the organisation and all of its implications on relationships unfurl at the same time.
The show uses a time-hopping style that we’ve all become quite accustomed to – jumping back and forth to reveal to us new pieces of information about Webb and the sinister facets of The One – and it slips effortlessly from genre to genre. We start out intrigued by a sci-fi drama peppered with romance, to a full on psychological thriller, soaked in murder and mystery. As the eight-part series progresses, one is left with the distinct impression that matching couples according to their DNA wasn’t a very good idea after all.
While the show’s plot isn’t as intriguing as the last Netflix series we reviewed, Behind Her Eyes, it has a similar feel, and may scratch the same itch – minus all that weird astral projection stuff. It has, however, received a few mixed reviews, with some viewers claiming they were less interested in the murder itself, than in the plots of some of the more peripheral characters.
Indeed, Ware’s character – despite being the one we spend the most time on – is mostly unlikeable, and hard to relate to. Her storyline feels like an over-dramatic web of bleak events, all brought about by herself, and many of which she probably could have avoided. It’s much easier to sympathise with a few of the characters the show spends less time on – but we’re never really given the opportunity to do that.
It also feels like The One had a lot of room to move out of the realm of the cliche and the unpredictable, and chose not to. Instead of exploring the science behind the plot, or showing us more detailed consequences of The One’s growing success as a company, we’re forced to watch a murder investigation play out in all the ways we expect it to. It’s aspirations to follow in the footsteps of Black Mirror feel, sadly, less than stellar, and we’re not given much chance to understand why many of the characters behave the way they do.
Finally, at the end of the season – if you make it that far – you’re left with a lot more questions than answers. Admittedly, this unhelpful finale was the most gripping part of the entire series – which I had quickly begun to lose interest in. The massive cliffhanger we’re left with is perhaps all that will compel me to watch season two when it’s released. But no promises.
Whatever you think of it, we do at the very least learn one thing from The One. Finding your one true love using DNA is clearly more trouble than it’s worth. Better stick to doing it the old-school way. But then again, you probably could have come to that conclusion on your own, couldn’t you?