Twins in Media: Twitches

Screenshot from ‘Twitches’ (2005) starring (left) Tamera Mowry and (right) Tia Mowry. Copyright goes to Disney Channel and Buena Vista Television.

Hi! It’s Annie!

More Halloween themed twins in media! When I was really young I used to watch ‘Sister, Sister’ starring Tia and Tamera, but for some reason this never extended to watching ‘Twitches’. I had always heard a lot about this one, but for years I just wasn’t interested. I really have to be in the mood to watch Disney Channel movies, and if I do it’s always the ones that I’m nostalgic for. But obviously, not covering roles played by Tia and Tamera in a twins in media post would be a crime. Their Halloween movie was absolutely perfect for this week, so I finally decided I had to sit down and actually watch the first ‘Twitches’ movie. To be honest…I didn’t have many expectations, but this isn’t really a movie I’d return to. Even though, I did think it was funny that my sister and I are twenty-one watching this for the first time while the characters are also twenty-one during the events of the movie. Regardless, this is one of the most interesting portrayals of twins I’ve seen in a movie in a while. But is it interesting in a good way?

The Good:

  • Separate actors. Tia and Tamera are two different people rather than one person playing two people! Yay! This is always an important distinction for me. I don’t care if the actors are twins (though it’s awesome if they are!), I would just like for two different people to be playing two different siblings. Having one person play two people fuels the idea that twins are the same or two halves of the same whole. We are two different people and having two people with slight differences in voice, appearance, and other realistic things actually gives the audience a glimpse into how different twins can actually be. My sister and I don’t actually think we look a lot alike and our voices are completely different. I have a slightly higher pitch to my voice than my sister does along with the way we speak being different. No twins, even if they are identical, are EXACTLY identical. Especially not in personality and mannerisms. For example, when I’m feeling anxious I bite my lip, play with my hair, and massively over-think. When my sister is anxious she’s more likely to clench her fists, choose something else to focus on, and try to move on.
  • Realistic reactions. This movie, unfortunately, is one of the many that has the separated at birth twin trope. However, I want to give props to their separate reactions when they figure out the other exists. Firstly, it isn’t all immediate joy. Secondly, they react completely differently to the news. While Cam is excited and has obviously grown up with a lot of the media’s ideas and tropes surrounding twins, Alex has a much more realistic reaction. It would be odd to find out you have a long-lost sister, and just because they’re related doesn’t mean they suddenly know each other. Though Cam’s reaction is based off of tropes, the movie points Alex out as being more rational and realistic about the situation. The reactions of the friends and family around them are also great. They don’t treat either character differently after suddenly discovering that the two are twins; they just check up to see how the situation is going. From experience, I can tell you that this depiction can be better than real life. I once didn’t tell friends in a class that I had a twin sister (not on purpose, it just never came up), and when they eventually found out, the way they treated me was definitely different. They no longer would check up on me and would just ask me questions about my sister all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about my sister. She’s awesome. But I don’t want to talk about her all the time. I’m really glad that most of the family and friends of the girls in this movie didn’t do that.
  • Different lives. They have different friends, even different family, and have different relationships with the new people they meet throughout this movie. Even when they know the same person, their relationship to that person is different. It’s always nice to see this distinction in the personalities of twins in media. They also have different hobbies which I really liked. One of them really liked drawing while the other was more prone to writing, which really reminded my sister and I of the two of us when we were younger.

The Bad:

  • Opposites. I love that they have different personalities, and this trope is certainly better than the hive-mind trope, but it’s still problematic. Because the next best thing for media if they can’t portray twins as exactly the same is, for some reason, treating each character like they’re each a half to a whole rather than whole people by themselves. Portraying twins as opposites is a good way to do this. Cam is influenced by the sun; she gets up early and has a more cheerful and emotional personality. Alex is influenced by the moon; she stays up late and has a more rational and laid-back personality. The movie takes every opportunity to point out that they’re opposites. Not different, but opposites. Portraying something as different and opposite of each other is very different.
  • Supernatural powers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad they didn’t go with something stupid like twin telepathy. But the sun and moon opposite twin powers was still trope-y and definitely cheesy. Although, this is a Disney Channel movie so cheesy is what this kind of movie does best. I’m glad that they did point out through dialogue in this movie that these supernatural powers were not common among twins and sort of played that one off as a joke. That’s not what my problem is though. This, again, goes back to the ‘each is one half of a whole’ idea. I really dislike the idea that they are each fine on their own but their powers are only really strong if they do something together. If you look at the original symbol that their father used, it was both a sun and a moon. It’s supposed to be because their father split his powers in two for the both of them, but it is quite literally two halves of the same whole. It is one of the most literal definitions of this trope in anything I’ve ever seen. I would just like for twins to be portrayed as their own whole separate people and not like their twin is somehow possessing something that they are lacking as an individual. By all means, give twins supernatural powers! But please stop making them reliant on each other.
  • Separated at birth. You don’t have to have your characters separated at birth to make them different. Most twins grow up in the same household and are different people regardless. I know this is commonly used also for drama, I would just like to see more portrayals of realistic twins who grew up together and are still different people. Using this trope as much as it has been used adds another weird element to twins in the media. Twins aren’t in general a dramatic plot point or an odd happening. We’re just regular siblings who are slightly more likely to be close because we’re the same age. We’d like to be treated like regular siblings.

So, are these two a good representation of twins in media?

They’re ok. There’s nothing super great about them and there’s nothing really bad about them either. They have problems and there’s some things this portrayal got right too. This would have been better if they hadn’t made the characters so reliant on each other and kind of helpless without the other. I really like the idea of twins as witches, but it’s never done that well. Padma and Parvati in ‘Harry Potter’ would have been really good if they had been focused on more in the book and if they hadn’t been shoved into the same house and given matching outfits for the Yule Ball in the movie. I have yet to see twins as witches in a portrayal that I like, and it’s a little disappointing. Hopefully we’ll be able to see better portrayals of twins in media soon and that will spur some actual badass portrayals of twin witches.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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