Twins in Media: Fred and George Weasley

Screenshot of George Weasley (Left) and Fred Weasley (Right) from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, 2005, Oliver and James Phelps, Copyright of Warner Bros. Ent., Publishing rights to J.K.R.

Hey! Hallie here!

The only way to follow up a post about the great Hikaru and Kaoru is to go back to the roots of red-haired mischievous twins. Who else could it be but Fred and George Weasley? Now I will preface this by saying that my once giant love for Harry Potter, and I do mean giant, has dwindled these last few months. This post is not to go into that entire…mess. However, I will say that my love of these twins has also lessened over time. When I first entered the Harry Potter fandom, I absolutely loved Fred and George. They were close, like my sister and I are, and they stole every scene they were in. Whether I was reading the books or watching the movies, I knew their appearances meant something exciting was about to happen. So what do I think of the portrayal of these twins now?

The Bad:

  • The “Angsty Surviving Twin” trope. These two are the poster children for this trope. I don’t know about you, but when I see siblings like my sister and I get permanently separated because they are ‘too similar’ I get a little uncomfortable. Just me? In all seriousness, this trope has always, always, been a red flag for me when a writer decides to tackle twin characters. It seems to spread the message that twins are so similar that you really only ever need one. I’ll admit that “Harry Potter” gets points for waiting until the very end of the story to pull this move. However, it loses all those points for (SPOILER) the major tear-jerking element of Fred’s death not being that he was such an important character to the plot, but that he left George behind to grieve.
  • The “Mischievous Twins” trope. Obviously this one was going to pop up. I am in no way saying here that twins can’t be mischievous or play tricks on people. We absolutely can! Sometimes we enjoy it! It’s just important to keep in mind that twins don’t do it constantly, and we in no way have entire personalities revolving around the fact that sometimes it’s funny when people mix us up. Both Fred and George share the same story arc; they like playing pranks on people so much that they decide to dedicate their lives to opening a joke shop. Is this a painfully unoriginal way to portray twins? Yes. Yes it is.
  • The “Synchronized Twins” trope. The books do this a little less, but did the movies really have to have ALL of Fred and George’s lines be either saying the same thing at the same time or finishing each others sentences? Because no one does that. Not even twins.

The Good:

  • The slightly different personalities. This seems like I’m reaching. It’s because I am. I am continually frustrated with the lack of differences between these two characters. However, as usual, the books have a little bit more to go off of than the movies do. Fred is always more talkative and almost brutal when pranking others. George is always last to lose his cool, and he even apologizes for his brother on a few occasions. The best example of these different personalities comes when Fred and George get cheated out of the money they won at the Quidditch World Cup in the fourth book. Fred decides to resort to blackmail, which quickly starts an argument with the much more level-headed George. This doesn’t happen often enough, but it does happen!
  • Characters like them for more than just being twins. I know this sounds like the bare-minimum, but I would have appreciated this in high school. My sister and I ran into a lot of people who would only question us on what it was like to be a twin, and then leave. Fred and George have friends, such as Lee Jordan, who like them because they are funny and intelligent. Harry looks up to them because they have so much passion for the work that they do. While the books spend a lot of time pointing out that they’re twins who are always together, it also gives many reasons for the characters and the reader to appreciate their bravery and fun personalities.
  • The actors are actually twins. So this one doesn’t effect the story, but I can’t help but applaud when actual twins are cast as fictional twins. Believe it or not, twins, even identical ones, do not look completely the same. It makes a difference when I can recognize the subtle differences between James and Oliver Phelps and acknowledge that they are two separate people.

So are Fred and George Weasley good representations of twins in media?

I wish I could say yes here. I really do. But the bad definitely outweighs the good here. Fred and George are one of the major examples of bad twin representation in media. They are basically the same character. I have no problem with twins having the same interests, or even being in the same Hogwarts house, but there are so little differences that it becomes ridiculous (Riddikulus). Their entire existence revolves around stereotypes rather than their individual personalities. It’s not exactly surprising that this is yet another thing that Rowling got wrong, but it does hurt me in the childhood a bit. That being said, in no way am I asking you to hate these characters! They are absolutely fun to watch! I just hope that in the future, we can see something more accurate up on the big screen.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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