With The One, Netflix reworks the concept of the soul mate through the prism of genetics. Between its ambitious concept and the reality of its realization, can this science fiction succeed in making us fall in love?
The search for a soul mate is a universal theme that has been used for centuries in all possible genres of art, from literature, to painting, including cinema and series. This theme obviously inspired Howard Overman, to whom we owe Misfits and now the new Netflix series: The One. Released on March 12 on the platform, the series seems to be a hit at the moment. And for good reason, the frame of The One is based on the promise of finding a soul mate through genetics. This is what Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware) is trying to sell with her company also called “The One”. In this series with an ambitious scenario, the stakes are raised from the first minutes. First, does genetic love compatibility actually work? And then, what can be its impact on society? For these two questions, the answer seems rather vague in the first episodes, which does not fail to arouse the curiosity of the spectator. In this genetic and social conflict, comes a detective intrigue, which adds even more suspense to the main plot.
Indeed, it seems that a heavy secret is hidden behind the idyllic image of the company The One, and especially that of its CEO Rebecca Webb. Adapted from the eponymous novel by John Marrs, The One offers the promise of a thrilling series, mixing science and love, with a slightly dystopian vibe in the genre of Black Mirror, the series briefly reminding us of the episode “Hang the DJ” of the fourth season. Except that in reality, The One did not have exactly the desired effects. Whether this is the result of insufficient adaptation work or a script that does not meet our expectations, the first season of The One shows a certain potential but which has not been sufficiently exploited. The result: a mixed series.
A mix of genres a little messy
The One takes its inspirations as well in science fiction, the thriller or the romantic series. However, by wanting to pay homage too much to these different genres, the series cannot find its way. If this jumble can sublimate a novel, in the case of the series it is a little more complicated. It’s rough, not very original and ultimately a bit off the mark. The series does not sufficiently exploit its strong point, to make us discover the impact that science could have on love. The One can be summed up in a love triangle between crime, romance and science. But, it’s well known, in every love triangle there is always someone left behind. Unfortunately here it is science. It is put aside in favor of the romantic and detective dimensions of the series, which they are much more developed. Finally, The One has science fiction as its starting point. If you expected a production in the vein of cultism Black Mirror, it missed. It lacks that little dystopian detail that calls into question the use of science or technology to excess.
A dynamic achievement but too uninviting
As for the direction, we are delighted to see that the talent of Howard Overman did not fail with The One. First of all, he made the timeline dynamic through flashbacks and back and forth between the stories of the different characters. It is therefore not linear, which prevents us from completely stalling. In itself, the story is not completely uninteresting, the suspense being quite present in the plot itself, but the editing clearly reinforces this impression. The transitions are very well executed and they are often sublimated by the musical accompaniment. It emphasizes each scene aptly, both in dramatic or more hectic situations.
Fortunately, the cast saves the day a bit. Each in their own way, they are endearing and convincing. Exploring their personal stories allows the series to gain intensity and also make them more human, as The One tends to think of them as walking DNA data.