Twins in Media: Dipper and Mabel Pines

Screenshot of Dipper and Mabel from ‘Gravity Falls’ portrayed by Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal. Copyright goes to ‘Disney Television Animation’ and ‘Disney Channel’.

Hi! It’s Annie!

TWINS! To those of you who just got that reference; thank you and I’m sorry that it was kind of cheap, but I had to go for it. Back to twins in media and this time I’m going for one of the most popular portrayals of twins recently. They also kind of fit with the Halloween season as we get into October! Dipper and Mabel Pines first came to my attention because of the unlikeliness of anything good coming out of Disney Channel for the past few years. When I first started watching some episodes of ‘Gravity Falls’, I was immediately shocked by the fact that the show was actually portraying twins. It wasn’t something I noticed at the beginning, I simply just thought of them as siblings. This having to be pointed out to me is one of the reasons I like these two so much. There are still a few concerning things (that may or may not actually have to do with the show), so let’s see how these two hold up in their portrayal of twins.

The Good:

  • Different personalities: They are not exactly the same, nor are they opposites. Mabel is adorable, loves all things adorable, and is very pleasantly insane. Dipper is more of a voice of reason, someone who is very inside his head, and is a bit quieter. Just different. They work well together but not in a way that is pointed out to have something to do with the fact that they are twins. They are just two different people.
  • Different lives: Mabel and Dipper have a lot of the same friends; which makes perfect sense. They spend a lot of their time hanging around the same people, so it would make sense that many of their friends would be the same. The important part here is that they each have different relationships with those people. Mabel and Dipper’s reactions to, Wendy for example, are extremely different. And in turn Wendy treats them both differently.
  • Realistic siblings: They don’t always get along or always fight. There is no example of the evil twin here. They fight sometimes, they get along at other times. They act like any siblings would. Which is just how twins act. We have similarities and differences and we react to each other based on those. They get along a lot of the time, but not all of the time. They also aren’t the opposite and all over each other either (like a certain superhero duo I talked about last week). They are somewhere in the middle, as most siblings actually are.
  • Best Friends: When you spend so much time around someone for almost all of your life, you’re going to have a close relationship with them. Dipper and Mabel are basically best friends, and it’s something I love to see. My sister is my best friend and it’s difficult when people tell me that I have to distance myself from my best friend in order to be seen as a different person. I shouldn’t have to. Just because we’re best friends, doesn’t mean we’re exactly the same. You don’t have to portray twins as being opposites in order for them to like each other. It feels rare anyways to see such a positive relationship for siblings. There are many siblings out there, not just twins, who are close in age and have become best friends in a way because they grew up with that person. You don’t see many depictions of that in media. It is definitely refreshing to see a pair of siblings who are just wholesome together and truly are also best friends. They care for each other, they’re able to have conversations without one of them getting annoyed very dramatically, and in the end they will always have each other’s backs. I will never be ashamed or embarrassed to call my sister my best friend, even with the idea that some people have that because I’m a twin it somehow means we are a one-minded entity. I would just really really like to be able to call her my best friend without anyone actually thinking that.
  • Twin representation: You want to know why the portrayal of twins is so accurate in this show compared to others? Because the creator of ‘Gravity Falls’, Alex Hirsch, is actually a twin. The series is written based on the childhood of himself and his twin sister Ariel. We have an actual twin writing twin characters, so of course this going to be more accurate than the average portrayal! Alex and Ariel have done several interviews talking about themselves and the show, which I highly recommend watching. It’s just incredibly wholesome to watch them both talk about their childhoods and you definitely see the similarities between them and their characters.

The Bad:

  • The Fandom: I’m not trying to attack everyone in this fandom, but there are a few groups in this fandom that concern me just a little bit. Of course, this has nothing to do with the show and shouldn’t be pinned on the show whatsoever, but it is still something that should be addressed. This fandom happens to have one of the biggest twincest ships I have ever seen in my life; and that’s with me being familiar with ‘Ouran Highschool Host Club’. No, it is not innocent to ship Dipper and Mabel together. It’s not in any way acceptable to ship any siblings together ever. If you are part of the group of people who ship these two, I would like to please ask you to reconsider. It’s sick and I’m really tired of seeing it. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of twins are really tired of seeing it. I have no idea why it is somehow more socially acceptable to ship twins together than regular siblings; but it shouldn’t be. The fact that it is, is another great example of twin fetishization. I’m sorry, but if you support any twincest you are a part of the problem here.

So, are Dipper and Mabel a good representation of twins in media or not?

Going exactly against what happened in my post last week, I am very glad and relieved to say that the answer is; yes, absolutely. Dipper and Mabel are some of the most realistic siblings I have ever seen in media, never mind twins. They are supportive of each other without being clingy, best friends without being exactly the same, and understanding of each other consistently throughout the series. The traditional twin tropes have been rightfully thrown out the window. There are basically none to be found here. That was probably clear by the fact that I didn’t even mention the show when I talked about the bad in this post. They are regular siblings who also happen to be best friends because they grew up having a close relationship. And growing up close doesn’t mean that they are the same. The word ‘twin’ for these two is a descriptor, it isn’t who they are as people. And that is how every single twin in the world is. It’s incredibly comforting to know that these two have secured themselves among some of the most popular twins to be featured in media. This is, without a doubt in my mind, the best portrayal of twins I have ever seen in my life. I hope more twins in the future will be written like these two.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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