[Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for Twin Love on Prime Video and Amazon Freevee.]
Amazon dating competition Twin Love — not to be confused with the two recent docuseries about Twin Flames Universe — begins with a statistics lesson. "Studies show that identical twins start dating, lose their virginity, and get married later in life than everyone else," hosts Brie and Nikki Garcia (formerly known as the Bella Twins) explain, as they tend to "prioritize [their] twin" over their own needs. In an attempt to break that cycle, the show divides contestants into two different houses "so that these 10 sets of identical twins can learn to live, and love, on their own." For the first time in their lives, the siblings are unable to communicate, leaving them to form meaningful connections without relying on assistance or advice from their other half.
While many of the twins are emotional about being split up, the process encourages them to grow as individuals, and some even feel freer without their sibling chiming in with comments about their new relationship. Garden House's Sabella Radostitz spends the first night crying about being separated from her more outgoing sister Hanna, but after getting over the initial shock of the experiment's structure — the siblings were told they'd be participating together — she comes out of her shell and admits that her dependence on Hanna is "not healthy."
Over in Vista House, Whittnay James has a similar experience. Initially, she's so overwhelmed by her separation anxiety that she tells the other girls she's prepared to go home single, but when a rare "Twinformation Session" reveals her sister Brittnay is thriving, it gives her enough reassurance to begin looking for love in earnest. At the nightly cocktail party, Whittnay reintroduces herself to the group and forms a strong connection with David Cabello, the twin of Brittnay's love interest Aaron. As the season progresses, David breaks down some of Whittnay's walls, and before long, they take their relationship to the next level in the "Twintimacy Room."
But Twin Love's supposed commitment to helping these siblings become more independent exists in conflict with its other priority: producing as many "identical twin couples" as possible. Nowhere is this clearer than in the show's elimination process, which turns each sibling duo into a "package deal." During each elimination, one house has control over the entire group, and whoever doesn't have a partner at the end of voting must collect their twin and head home. As Brie and Nikki tell the cast, "We have to do this to keep both houses identical for this experiment."
In theory, this rule furthers the idea that contestants must choose between their own happiness and that of their sibling, and it often plays out that way. Early on, before Whittnay and David spark, Aaron is faced with the difficult decision of continuing on this journey with Brittnay, his day one connection, or saving Sabella in order to protect David's burgeoning relationship with Hanna. A few episodes later, Baelee Bogard finds herself in a similar situation when the elimination comes down to Samir Akel, her strongest relationship in the house, or Seth Banks, whose brother Luke has been coupled up with Baelee's twin Zoie since the beginning.
Though Aaron and Baelee both pick love over their sibling, linking the twins' fates undercuts the show's claim that it wants contestants to "learn to live, and love, on their own." If that were really the case, relationships that seem strong enough to survive beyond the bounds of the experiment, like Zoie and Luke's, wouldn't be put on the chopping block in the name of creating reality TV chaos. These "package deal" eliminations also encourage cast members (whether consciously or subconsciously) to follow their sibling's lead and couple up with the other twin, as doing so ensures they will be safe at the next choice ceremony, regardless of which house controls the vote.
That becomes the case with Ceara McKegney and Andrew Beatty, who get together after learning that their twins, Cameron and Matthew, are dating. "With Andrew, I definitely am catching a vibe," says Ceara. "But it also makes me think, am I just catching a vibe because Cameron and Matt were?"
Even beyond its elimination process, Twin Love's emphasis on keeping the houses "identical" proves unfair to the contestants, almost all of whom appear genuinely interested in finding love. (In a smart twist that ensures everyone is "there for the right reasons," to borrow a Bachelor phrase, the hosts keep the $50,000 prize a secret until the finale's closing minutes.) When Maddie Capozza laments her lack of meaningful connections and expresses a desire to leave, Brie informs her twin Gaby that she must "go home, too" in order to preserve the integrity of the experiment.
Gaby isn't happy about the rule — which was concocted by a producer and thus could be voided at any point in the competition — but it leaves her with no choice but to cut her blossoming relationship with Samer Akel short. What's crueler, Gaby isn't allowed to say goodbye to Samer; he learns of her sudden departure from a note slipped under the door. "To be honest, it's heartbreaking," he says in a confessional. "I thought in my head it might be the one. I just wish I could've spent another day with her."
Twin Love's unwillingness to commit to its original premise is particularly frustrating because the question of whether codependent people can achieve a better balance in their lives is worth exploring, and this diverse group of people has no problem conveying that theme. The cast, daily challenges, and the relationships that develop are compelling enough that even if the houses were no longer identical, the show would still work, although it would require a few obvious tweaks (the first being the "Twintegration" that takes place in the final two episodes). It's a shame that the promise of hot, identical twins in hot, identical relationships distracted Twin Love from its stated aim, because a version of this series that sticks to its guns would be one of the more "twinteresting" dating competitions out there.
Twin Love is streaming on Prime Video and Amazon Freevee.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.