Friday, August 28, 2009

The “Evil Twin” Meme Sucks

The “Evil Twin” Meme Sucks

wonders-if-i-has-evil-twin-muhahahaha Meme: A postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena.* (Wikipedia)

You’ve all seen it or read it. The main character is somehow “split” into a good and evil part. Or a long lost twin reappears for an episode or chapter, and is nothing like the original character. Ever since TV and movie directors discovered that they can overlay the same actor twice in the same frame, they’ve explored in nauseating repetition every possible angle and variation of the Evil Twin Meme. It all started full steam with the “Evil Kirk” ST:TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror”. This Wikipedia entry has more details.

Evil Obama The latest series to fall victim to this craptastically unoriginal concept is Warehouse 13. In the latest episode (stop reading if you haven’t seen it and want to), Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) is trapped in a mirror and an evil, possessed version of herself emerges. Our hero Pete Lattimer (Eddie McLintock) supposedly discovers the switcheroo when they kiss. “She would never kiss me, even if the fate of the world was at stake.” Hey, guess what Pete? Maybe your clue should have come from the stinky derivative writing! At least she didn’t have a goatee like Evil Obama over there. Ever notice that Evil Twins of women are sexier than the original? Why is that? At least they got this meme over with early in the series (Or have they??).

Are all the good ideas gone? Is there nothing new? I’ve complained about this before. I know that when you have to crank out a 13- or 26- week episodic series, you need to use whatever ideas are out there.

Moving right along, I have a confession to make. I have a concept for a novel or short story where a person lives in two universes inhabited with the same cast in different roles. One is a “light, happy” universe, the other is “dark, deadly”. You know, Utopia vs. Dystopia. So, like my concept with Dawn’s Rise where I include as many disasters as I can into a disaster novel, maybe in this case I’m going to do the Evil Twin meme to death, the ultimate Evil Twin novel to end all Evil Twin novels. Maybe the Evil Twins will have Evil Twins. Yes, that’s it! Evil Quadruplets! Start lining up the publishers!

halloweenTaking this even further, I can’t wait to come up with a Paranormal concept. I will find every repetitive and overused meme in the genre and overdo it completely. I’ll have vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies, skeletons, monsters, demons, witches, spirits, angels, devils, sprites, fairies, and haunted houses up the wazoo. It will be frickin’ Halloween on every page. And of course I’ll have to make it an urban romance as well, because apparently you can’t sell fiction unless it’s a romance nowadays. Another meme I’d like to kill. Well, you gotta write to the audience. Paranormal urban disaster evil twin romance market, here I come!

*Forgive me for using the LOLcat meme. And note the new category “Random Rants.”


  1. Warning! Boring tweets ahead.

    I received a response from @SyFy:

    Syfy: Just FYI, there was no evil twin Myka. That was Alice from Alice & Wonderland who used Myka's appearance as a disguise.

    I responded:
    @Syfy If an actor plays 2 roles in an ep, esp when "twin" has opposite morals, it's the "Evil Twin Meme". Doesn't have to be actual twin.

    They said:
    Syfy: We'll agree to disagree then. Thanks for pointing out your piece.

    @Syfy That's fine to disagree over Evil Twins. I assume this is because you're leaving the possibility open. Woot! Myka in a goatee!

    So like, do they really not understand the concept? The Evil Twin is just a lookalike with an altered if not completely opposite moral compass. It's not just you on steroids, or some Dr.Jekyll/Mr. Hyde/Incredible Hulk type of thing. It's a mostly identical facsimile. A Doppelgänger if you will. It can be an evil spirit in disguise. It's all semantics.

    The point of the Evil Twin (in case you somehow missed it) is to create a clever antagonist who assumes a protagonist's role in order to achieve some evil objective. The twin uses the trust that people have for the original against them. It's just an overused, stereotypical plot device that every SF series gets to at some point (and it's common in soap operas as well). Call it what you will, but it is what it is.

  2. Uh, as your wife, who is a fan of the paranormal romance genre and a potential future author of various forms of chic lit including the romance and paranormal romance genres, I have to take a bit of exception to your comment about it being "another meme [you'd] like to kill".
    Just because you don't enjoy reading it and you aren't inclined to write it doesn't make it an irrelevant or invalid genre.

  3. I do not want to kill romance (although it looks like I have in a way :( ) but it does seem it's spilling over into a lot of other genres.
    Remember, a "meme" is a belief system. The meme that I want to kill is the idea that you have to include romance to sell your book. Not the concept of romance itself. You're confusing meme and genre.

  4. How about Ollahween where everyone is beautiful and hands out toothpaste? Oh yeah, no one wants to read it.

  5. Sorry I confused genre and meme, but I'm not suprised. I'm confused about a lot of things right now.

  6. I agree with you - the evil twin storyline is so overplayed now and most of it is just lazy writing. I find your concept of one person living in two different universes intriguing. It would seem to me that there is a lot of room to work there. You could pursue the question of if a person is defined by their environment or by their own moral by seeing if that main character begins to act differently in one world than another and if they start to develop a split personality from it. I would love to read about it if you choose to pursue it. Write on!


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