“It was forced parents? Was it the fame? Fashion? Was it the coffee to go, the oversized sunglasses and the cigarettes? Or is it nostalgia? What makes the Olsen sisters so mysterious? What attracts us? What’s up with them? Are you a Mary-Kate or an Ashley?” a voice asks out female at the beginning of the documentary essay The Twins (The Twins) about a series of images of the Olsen sisters from their childhood through their adult years. The voice belongs to British-Indian documentary filmmaker Sara Meerza, who seeks to understand and explain millennial women’s collective obsession with the Olsen twins, as well as their cultural influence and legacy.
Everyone knows the Olsens: child stars at nine months when they were barely crawling, thanks to the success of the series forced parents (1989) and later to children’s films Two for the price of one (Nine hundred and ninety-five). As they got older, they managed to grow up alongside their audiences, starring in teenage films about entanglements and chaste crushes, in which the sisters were already showing their two distinct and distinct personalities: Ashley was the good guy, Mary-Kate was the bad guy. In 2004, when they starred in the comedy new york minute, They were already 18 years old and had an estimated net worth of $137 million. As they came of age, they became fashion icons, carrying the style of the moment as their flag: the Boho chic At that age, while the world continued to watch, the harassment of the paparazzi and the press, as well as the extreme sexualization of the two sisters (the internet was counting down when it was legal to sleep with them). In 2010, Mary-Kate said in one of her few interviews with the magazine Marie Claire that “no one” wished her lived childhood, that she did not recognize herself in these old photos: “We were like two beautiful monkeys”. Today they have chosen the shadows rather than the spotlight and have become entrepreneurs in the fashion industry with their signature style The series, which won her the 2012 US Fashion Council award for best womenswear designer of the year, something of a fashion Oscar. His net worth is currently estimated at $500 million.
To this day, his fame cannot be compared to that of today’s stars. This was suggested by Meerza himself in a interview with the content platform We present, belonging to WeTransfer, where the documentary can already be seen: “With the rise of social networks, there is no longer any mystery about anyone. Our relationship with the Olsen twins is a kind of old-school fandom that no longer exists.”
Meerza was a fan of the sisters. Born and raised in London, she recounts how her father and relatives brought her collectibles from the twins that could only be found in the United States. Meerza, like many of her friends and women she has met in her life, was fascinated by them. In the documentary, she shares how much she admired that unbreakable bond, that brotherhood that doesn’t necessarily have to be between sisters, that bravery, that fun way of solving and overcoming problems, and also her style. But most of all, she admired this world of girls, where you could be who you wanted without being judged and feeling accompanied at all times: “There is something really powerful to be two pure individuals and yet to be so close .” Perhaps the key to it all lies in the last question at the beginning of the documentary: “Are you a Mary-Kate or are you an Ashley?”
In an episode of the animated series Bojack rider – a finely tuned satire on the Hollywood industry through a protagonist who became TV’s old-time glory and whose bright moment starred in one sitcom Family in the 1990s – several actors, writers and journalists perform an analysis during a dinner between two characters from a television show, which featured two twins, a reflection of the Olsens themselves. One was named Zoë and the other Zelda. As Mary-Kate, Zöe always played the rebellious character, the masculine girl who loved sports and always covered her mouth with spaghetti sauce, introverted, ironic and sarcastic, the Poorly. Like Ashley, Zelda was the good and sophisticated girl, the one with the good grades, sweet, outgoing, and optimistic. According to this series, the Zoë/Zelda paradigm can define everyone in the world (from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, from Britney Spears to Christina Aguilera), just as it did for those teens who are now millennial women trying to make their… to discover identity through the Olsen films, full of archetypes yes, but also full of possibilities.
The fascination of the Olsen twins goes beyond that forced parents, fame, fashion or images of smoking in the streets of New York: it’s about identity and transformation. Raised in her footsteps, Meerze sees herself as the girl who bought the magazines they appeared in and the discerning adult who aspires to be able to buy an outfit from The Row. Identity and transformation, given that they are twins, is one of Meerze’s main focuses: in the Ashley and Mary-Kate paradigm, women could reflect themselves in the two, so similar and at the same time so different. Or at least knowing that in the ideal case of a sorority, you would always have an Ashley by your side, even if you were a Mary-Kate.