By Andrés Muñoz
Warning: Contains spoilers for Netflix’s “The One”
Have you ever taken an ancestry test that reveals your origins through your genes? In Netflix’s “The One”, genetics meets our craze for dating apps in a world where people have found their perfect match according to their DNA.
The Dark Past Of A Promising App
The story begins in London, where the DNA analyst Ben Naser’s aged corpse appears in the River Thames and, geneticist Rebecca Webb, CEO of The One, is running a service matching ideal partners based on their genes. The app’s success and Ben’s death intertwine as Detective Inspector Kate Saunders unravels the intricacies behind the murder, and we witness the twists and turns the dating service causes in individuals’ lives.
There are several subplots: the schemes behind the app; Rebecca using her influence to prevent the investigation from moving forward; and a peek in on the lives and experiences of the app’s users. One such user is Detective Kate, who matched Sophia, a woman from Barcelona who falls into a coma due to an accident before their first date. Kate discovers that Sophia is married, making her have to face the realities of her match’s life before meeting her.
Another subplot explores the fear of losing someone you love due to this service. Hannah Bailey secretly takes her husband Mark’s DNA to see who his match is. Dramatic tension ensues when she befriends the matched woman and struggles to keep Mark away from her at all costs.
Somewhat similar to a Black Mirror episode, at its core, it delves into the implications of new technology and its disruption of longstanding cultural traditions. What if the person that you have matched with is married? In the show, divorce rates increase rapidly due to people ending their marriages to be with their respective matches. It gets you thinking: is technology ruining our relationships?
The Leading Ladies Of “The One”
Rebecca Webb is a fascinating character. From the start, we learn that she has a dark past but is committed to protecting “The One” against anything—or anyone—that stands in its way. Her iron will and steely determination make her backstab, betray, and bribe people related to the investigation to prevent the authorities from cracking the case. She is also trying to protect a secret about a man she fell in love with when testing the application before its launch.
In a similar way to the lead character in Netflix’s “I Care A Lot” (you can read my review here), Rebecca is Machiavellian and ruthless when necessary. That being said, her desire to promote her position of power comes at a very high personal and emotional cost as the investigation draws ever closer. On wanting control and success, Rebecca says in a pivotal scene: “Yeah. I’m supposed to apologize for that? Men never do.”
The story orbits around the struggle between the show’s two lead characters: Rebecca and Kate. Rebecca, trying to keep her position in the company while fighting the demons from her past, and Kate following the case’s trail while juggling her emotions with the situation involving her match.
Strong women rule the roost in this show, yet I get frustrated every time I look at Hannah’s character. The trials she experiences are the consequences of her actions and her actions alone. Had she not been insecure about her relationship with Mark, she wouldn’t have used her husband’s DNA to get his match without his permission. This insecurity heightens when she starts attending the other woman’s yoga class and tries to mimic her and figure out why she is such a good match for Mark.
All’s Fair In Love And War!
This series explores the levels of happiness and romantic achievement that one can reach. In the show, the divorce rates were spiking because people had found their perfect match and wanted to be with this person, throwing away their current partner. Does this make the marriage between original couples less valuable or worthy? It highlights the hypothetical struggle between organic relationships versus the feelings experienced when you meet the person evolution has engineered to be your—or your husband’s, in Hannah’s case—perfect partner.
While the story is peppered with several elements such as the emotional, psychological, and human ramifications of an app like this being available to the public, the plot focuses heavily on the murder investigation and the subsequent fallout. The premise of having a match that is genetically perfect for you is powerful and alluring. So, in my opinion, the series stays too long on the murder intrigue when it should zero in more on the storylines of people using the app and how it affects their daily lives.
If criminal thrillers and romantic tension are your thing, go forth and stream it! If not, “The One” might not be the right match for you.