The One: Netflix's new DNA-based matchmaking drama lacks subtlety, suspense

REVIEW: Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware) always knew her parents loved her, but didnt love each other. That resulted in her growing up thinking all marriages were like that.
Gradually, she worked out that wasnt the case, but, even while in relationships, she kept wondering if she could do better.

Dating constantly felt like rolling the dice and I was getting threes, maybe a four, if I was lucky, the co-creator and CEO of The One tells a packed, captivated audience. We all deserve a six the fairytale. And no-one has to settle anyone, because weve loaded the dice. A single strand of hair is all it takes for us to help you make a match with someone you are guaranteed to genetically fall in love with. It works it REALLY works.

Yes, for the second time in two months, heres a drama focused on a DNA-based matchmaking service. But while Amazon Prime Videos Soulmates is an anthology series featuring a smattering of well-known stars (Malin Akerman, Sarah Snook, Charlie Heaton, Betsy Brandt), The One (now streaming on Netflix) is very much a British thriller in the vein of Bodyguard, The Capture or Behind Her Eyes.

Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware) is the mysterious co-creator and CEO of DNA-based matchmaking service The One.

* Predestination: Sarah Snook's star-making, genre-bending sci-fi hits Netflix
* Tracks: Lose yourself, alongside Mia Wasikowska, in this haunting Netflix tale
* Bombay Rose: Why Netflix's Indian animated blooming marvel will melt your heart
* The body positivity doco Aussie censors didn't want tweens to see hits Netflix
* Neon's New Amsterdam, TVNZ's Six Angry Women among great shows to stream

Based on John Marrs 2017 novel of the same name, its set in a world where Webbs company has become akin to a cult. Those matched have become The Ones most passionate advocates, eulogising how it has transformed their lives.

However, the very existence of such a love test has led to tension and conflict within relationships. As the count of those matching has risen (10 million so far), so has the divorce and separation rate, as couples wonder if they really are with the right person.

Worried that such a now wealthy and powerful company is leading us down a dangerous path, the government has launched an investigation into whether the business should be allowed to continue. Thats something Webb cannot countenance, especially if they start digging into how the company started. Bigger, more immediate issues loom though, when the body of her former partner, long missing, is discovered in the Thames.

Not everyone is a fan of the services The One has to offer.

Theres a touch of the magnificent Years and Years about the interconnected characters (other key players include a journalist profiling Webb and a detective investigating the bodys discovery), futuristic, but frighteningly potentially realistic conceit and atmosphere of foreboding.

But whereas Russell T. Davies series was a tautly written, magnificently paced descent into future hell, this eight-part series sets its stall out early and is filled with blunt, portentous dialogue (sooner or later one of your stunts is going to blow up, Webb and the audience is warned at one point late in the opening episode) that narrows its scope to a will she get away with it? conceit.

This is a show, created by Misfits and Future Mans Howard Overman, where you can see the seams (a dissonant, unsettling soundtrack just one of a number of pointers) and are just bracing for the next mad twist to sweep the story along.

Amazon Prime
Soulmates is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

That doesnt mean its not entertaining, the conceit will be enough to draw in a large curious crowd, and the side-stories about those taking the test are certainly engaging and emotion-inducing, but whether its a dalliance that will leave you satisfied after near six-hours investment, Im not so sure.

If you only watch one science of love series this autumn, it may pay to make it Soulmates.


Our Partner