All the questions we have always asked ourselves about love – and a lot that would never have occurred to us – are cleared in the six episodes of the anthological story. Soulmates (currently on Amazon Prime Video). Created by Brett Goldstein (star of the sports series Ted Lasso, one of the spearheads of AppleTV +), it adds to the sentimental tradition of the platform already successfully established with Modern Love, which instead explored the different types of love and relationships.
In this case the couples – or presumed such – are chosen on the basis of a test that, after the discovery of some “ingredients” of the human soul, establishes who he is soul mate of an individual. Each episode tells a different story, by age, social background, ethnicity and geographical origin. They all have in common the very strong desire to have a confirmation on the love they think they have found or on what they might experience but have not yet crossed. A huge database contains all the data of customers who have undergone the very fast and painless procedure, for the most diverse reasons, from curiosity to loneliness.
The amazing assortment of the cast gives the stories an even higher level of suspension of disbelief. In these events set “only” in about fifteen years, David Costabile (Billions), for example, plays an ambitious college art professor, David Maddox, who is married to the daughter of the most powerful man on campus and with a rising future before meeting Allison (Sonya Cassidy). Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) is a provincial kid, Kurt, who meets Martha (Malin Akerman of Billions), a divorced woman a little in disarray, in a moment of great fragility for both. Bill Skarsgard (IT) it is Mateo, on his way to South America to meet the man with whom he will have to share the rest of his life even though he has never seen him in person. He doesn’t know that someone else, Jonah (played by Misfits’ Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), has other plans in mind for him. Franklin (Kingsley Ben-Adir, recently seen on Netflix in the award season frontrunner film, One night in Miami) is married, apparently happily, with daughters but when his wife Nikki (Sarah Snook from Succession) decides to take the test everything changes. This is not the only union in the bond of marriage before the discovery of the match: even Adam (Shamier Anderson) and Libby (Laia Costa) have found their equilibrium as an open couple, at least until the “truth” reshuffles the balances . To close the saga of love united by science is the story of the submissive and sweet Caitlin (Betsy Brandt), whose soulmate is Nathan (JJ Feild), a charming knight ready to save her in an expensive double-breasted suit.
Recapturing the happy ending
The scenes from everyday life in the series show lovers on the street they hug, kiss, hold hands or glance at each other while whispering romantic phrases. Looking at them, it really seems that the formula for happiness is at your fingertips, just a click away a pre-packaged and established recipe that creates a “match” with a complete stranger, designated on paper as the other half of the apple. Flash marriages, last minute cohabitations and radical decisions to change city or even continent for someone who has never been seen live are flocking.
Blind faith in technology replaces common sense, ambitious and plans, resetting everything to start over, with a new partner who, in turn, carries more or less cumbersome emotional baggage. Divorces, separations and extended families multiply with complete strangers at the door, ready to become the love of someone’s life on the spot.
Did they really live happily ever after?
It seems simple, easy, incontrovertible, like an equation, but when it comes to humanity and feelings, the variables become unpredictable. What if the soul mate dies before meeting her match? What if she was already engaged and turned down the meeting? What if he doesn’t settle for someone special in his life? What if, in order to confirm compatibility, it forces itself to make impossible choices?
All these “what if’s” translate into showy cracks in the system which, having to adapt to humans, is far from perfect. Here is how, then, the series questions the meaning of family, predestination, relationships and co-dependencies. In short, it shows how many compromises you are willing to undergo in order to receive a shred of attention, how many shortcomings you are ready to make up for in order not to find yourself alone at the end of the day and even how many abuses you get to keep silent to hold on to a semblance of stability.
The series, already confirmed for the second season, starts from reassuring premises to lead to increasingly questionable and less clear-cut scenarios. The test that was supposed to help humanity find itself, protect itself and love each other – not unconditionally, but on the condition of scientific compatibility – leaves it more confused, ambiguous and disoriented than ever. A condition, this, very familiar at the present moment and that sometimes brings with it the desperate need for well-defined rules, codes and limits, which simplify interpersonal relationships through an instruction manual. Pay attention to what you want because even the so-called “perfection” created in the laboratory or on the table can become a boomerang. As this little gem in installments shows in a lucid, creative and unsettling way.