Twins in Media: Thing 1 and Thing 2

Art of Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Suess’ “Cat in the Hat”. Copyright goes to the Dr. Seuss estate.

Hey! Hallie here!

Let’s carry on this classics week with another representation of twins! This one is one my sister and I have been compared to more than any other set of twins in media. It’s a normal thing to refer to twins as Thing 1 and Thing 2. Sometimes even regular siblings get called Thing 1 and Thing 2. The reason why we’re counting this pair as a representation of twins is because these two look exactly alike and helped normalize many tropes regularly used for twins. You can probably already tell what my opinion of these two will end up being, but let’s go more into depth and see just how problematic they are. Also, just to keep it in the Halloween theme, I’d highly recommend checking out the Cat in the Hat ride at Universal Studios Florida on YouTube. There are very few things more terrifying than Thing 1 and Thing 2 looking a lot like Chucky as they try to push a piano on top of you.

The Good:

  • They’re cute? I guess? I mean their smiles are kind of adorable. Their dimples are hard to resist. Unless you’re talking about ‘The Cat in the Hat’ 2003 film starring Mike Myers. They are outrageously terrifying in that movie. Dr. Seuss’ original art style makes Thing 1 and Thing 2 almost huggable, though. Plus they’re wearing what looks like pajamas, which makes them seem cuddly. I wish there was more I could say here.

The Bad:

  • Synchronization: These two do literally everything in unison. They don’t speak, but they’re constantly side by side and act as a unit. And what’s to be surprised about there? Their names are literally Thing 1 and Thing 2. They wear the same outfit. It isn’t like there’s any sort of attempt at making them individuals in any adaptation of this story. This is exactly why these two are constantly used as a comparison to twins. Nothing they do is separate from each other. It isn’t surprising that they act as if they’re operating with one brain.
  • Mischievous Twins: This is what Thing 1 and Thing 2 do in any adaptation of the story. They’re brought out by The Cat to help everyone have more fun and instead absolutely wreck everything in the house. This trope is really commonly used for twins and I can’t help but point to these two as one of the reasons it’s so popular. If my sister and I looked like we were doing something even slightly mischievous when we were younger, it was always grounds to compare us to Thing 1 and Thing 2. It’s a weird thing to expect of twins and still it’s been carried on through most forms of media since.
  • Abnormal: These two are presented as being different from the human characters, and even different from The Cat. They’re drawn differently with tufts of blue hair, white skin, and shorter heights than everyone else. And yet, what’s stuck with audiences hasn’t been these features, but the fact that they look the same. They’re a constant when it comes to mentioning pairs of any kind, especially twins, because they look so similar. Whether of not Seuss intended for them to be a representation of twins or not, audiences have since made them popular twins in media. So, regardless, it’s important to acknowledge that these characters are shown to be nothing more than entertainment and trouble for the lead characters without true characteristics of their own. This has been common in the representation of twins in media. Twins are used as nothing more than an interesting thing to observe for personal entertainment. It’s definitely a harmful stereotype that these two characters contributed to.
  • Same Story: It’s not like you get much of these characters in the story at all, but it should be mentioned that they have the same storyline. They create trouble with The Cat, ruin various things, and then clean their mess up at the end. They both do all of these things together. They serve the same purpose in the story. The only thing that alludes to any sort of difference between them is a number. So why were there two of them anyway? I couldn’t tell you. Maybe for rhyming purposes? Who knows? All I know is that the lack of differentiation made them more harmful than helpful. Two different people acting as one unit is a common view of twins and it simply isn’t accurate.

You know what I’m going to say here. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are bad examples of twins in media. Also, most twins don’t really like it when you constantly compare them to this duo. However, these two are an interesting case. There’s no clear evidence that these two were originally intended to be twins. They just happened to fit many people’s view of twins. It’s less because of Dr. Seuss and more because of the audience’s misconceptions about twins that made Thing 1 and Thing 2 so harmful to twins in the long run. This week of classics was kind of a downer, so I’m going to close with at least one positive thing we can take out of this look into Thing 1 and Thing 2. If there weren’t two of them, you wouldn’t get to hear both of their terrifying laughter on either side of you as you ride the ride in Universal Studios Orlando. Ok less positive, more entertainingly horrific.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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