Anthology series Soulmates does well when it throws it’s questions at the audience, with the main strength of the show is the level of acting. Yet with patchy writing, not all episodes strike the balance needed.
Approximately 15 years in the future, a company called Soul Connex has developed a test that can determine the person you were most meant to love…with 100 percent accuracy. From crumbling marriages, the exciting possibility of new love, the grief of mourning a soulmate you never knew, and the leap of faith required to jump into a life with someone new, Soulmates asks the ultimate question: is love destiny or choice?
It is rather inescapable to ignore how Soulmates just comes across as a multi-episode iteration of one Black Mirror idea. Mainly because for the first few episodes, the concept of the episodes sticks so rigidly to the original premise with far too little wiggle room in the writing to stand out.
However, this series grows on you once it decides to loosen the reigns a little, with some very interesting concepts being thrown about with this idea that leaves you happily watching the series. If anything, the order of each episode is more an issue than anything if you are binging them. They are really episodes made to have some distance between them to let their ideas breathe. However, if you go through them like any modern viewer loves to do nowadays, then you may struggle a tad.
The patchy aspect of Soulmates comes from the strength of the individual episodes; there are some characters and stories that you could easily spend more time with and see where their story goes from there, especially in such an open-ended world. So, then their time comes to an end, you are a little disheartened as if we have been robbed of more. Compare this to one or two episodes where it never connects as well, and you wish you could return to the other characters from before.
We also have the issue and excuse the nit-pickiness of it all, but Soulmates seems limited in its own stories by not being as free as it wants to. Sure, there are comments about finding your soulmate is from another country, but that would be an excellent episode of two culture clashes trying to figure it all out. Also, what if, at first glance, you are not sexually attracted to your chosen mate? We get this a little in episode three, where a character is matched with someone of the same gender, but it isn’t enough. The world created has the chance to go wild with any scenario, and at times it does, but it also seems to refrain from going all out, and for an anthology series like this, it needs to. After the first episode, meanders far too much with ideas that work only in a far shorter format. Until we get to the fourth episode, we begin to see the handcuffs come off, and the show begins to have the fun we had been waiting and expecting it to be.
With that said, there are some great premises to be found in the anthology. What if you loved your partner and tried to make sure that the results of your Soul Connex were scrubbed from existence? What if your soulmate has already died before you could meet them? Do you give up on love, or do you try and find another way to be with your departed match? What do you do if your soulmate is a monster? The intimacy of Soulmates is what makes it work best; no big grandstanding viewpoints are being pushed out. It takes a simple (in this fictional world) premise and allows the smaller ideas and thoughts, and questions to appear and grow within the audience’s mind. What would you do in those scenarios? What would you do if the love of your life took the test? Would you even take one yourself?
By placing ourselves into the stories and contemplating from our own viewpoint as those characters, we are left to ponder whether the grass really is greener on the other side. Shows like this are inevitably better when pushing the question back at the audience, and for that alone, it is worth a watch. There is already a second season set for release sometime soon, so hopefully, we will get more of the great that was bubbling up within Soulmates.
Soulmates arrive on DVD and digital 7 February 2022, courtesy of Acorn Media International – just in time for Valentine’s viewing.
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