Twins in Media: Sharon and Susie (1961) vs Hallie and Annie (1998)

Screenshot of Lindsay Lohan from ‘The Parent Trap’ (1998). Copyright goes to Walt Disney Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

For Twins in Media this week, I thought we’d go back to the twins this blog is based off of. Most of the references on our blog have something to do with the 1998 ‘Parent Trap’. But Hallie and Annie weren’t the first twins to try to trick their parents into getting back together. Enter Sharon and Susie, the twins from 1961’s ‘Parent Trap’. Even though these twins are placed in the same story, there’s some pretty big differences. Let’s look into these differences and see which twins are better twin representation. As usual, I’ll be judging them based off of tropes, differences and similarities, relationship, and plot. So which pair is more realistic?

Tropes:

  • Sharon and Susie. There are a few obvious tropes that both sets of twins are going to fall into. One is the ‘Separated at Birth’ trope. This trope is just not realistic, and it tends to be used in order to give each twin a different personality. The theory here seems to be that, if the twins come from two different upbringings, they will act completely differently and won’t confuse the audience. Putting aside the fact that separating these two was a questionable parenting choice at best, it’s important to note that all twins have different personalities, including the ones that grew up in the same household. If the worry is that audiences won’t be able to tell the twins apart if they’re from the same place, you’ve already failed at understanding that each twin is just as unique as any human being. These two also fall under the ‘Mischievous Twins’ trope. That’s kind of the point of the entire movie. The issue with Sharon and Susie here is that they’re pushed to the background during the second half of their movie to give their parents more screen time. That means the only time they’re on screen, they’re playing some kind of prank. Another trope these two fall in that their 1998 counterparts don’t share, is the ‘Psychic Connection’ trope. This only happens once, but Sharon does share early on in the movie that her mother thinks Sharon’s psychic because she gets goosebumps when something big is about to happen. She says this just before Sharon and Susie discover they’re twins, at which point both characters get goosebumps. No. Just no.
  • Hallie and Annie. There’s a lot of similarities here. The ‘Separated at Birth’ trope is pretty much exactly the same for these two. The ‘Mischievous Twins’ trope is slightly different, though. Hallie and Annie, unlike Sharon and Susie, aren’t pushed into the background during the second half of their film. This lets the film spend more time on their personalities and a little less time on labeling them as “mischievous”. That doesn’t mean they escape this trope entirely, though. The idea that twins like to switch places is a common one, and most of the pranks they play have to do with this idea. In my experience, though, most twins would rather others be able to tell the difference between them. My sister and I get mistaken for each other enough without having to pretend to be one another. We’d rather you learn which one is which than keep calling each of us by the wrong name.

Winner: Hallie and Annie. Hallie and Annie get a bit more time in their movie to establish their personalities without entirely relying on “They play pranks!” as personality traits. They also managed to dodge that embarrassing psychic connection situation. They share a lot of tropes with Sharon and Susie, but maybe the time gap between these movies did some good.

Differences and Similarities:

  • Sharon and Susie. Sharon and Susie are introduced as being very different. Sharon is very proper and polite. She has good posture and her vocabulary is slightly larger than Susie’s. Meanwhile, Susie is more laid back. She uses slang when she speaks and she has a tendency to bite her nails. These differences would be nice if not for the fact that they’re dropped during the last half of the movie. Part of the problem is that they’re played by the same actress. That means that when they’re sitting side by side, wearing the same outfit, it’s impossible to tell them apart. Even identical twins have different appearances, so it’s kind of jarring when I can’t tell a pair of “twins” apart. At one point I thought I knew which one was which because one of them started biting their nails, but then someone called her Sharon. Susie was the one who bit her nails at the beginning of the movie. Needless to say, I was confused. Hayley Mills, the actress for both characters, also has a tendency to bite and lick her bottom lip while playing both Sharon AND Susie. These two had a good start, but by the end of the movie they didn’t do so well.
  • Hallie and Annie. Hallie and Annie have a good amount of similarities and differences. They’re presented as pretty different when they first come on screen. Hallie makes friends easily and can be very sarcastic. Meanwhile Annie is proper and responsible with a bit of an anxious streak. They start out with different appearances as well, just as Sharon and Susie do. Hallie and Annie also have some similarities, but the movie does a good job of relating these without making them the same character. Both Hallie and Annie get in a fencing fight when they meet each other. They’re both very good, but Annie is clearly more skilled and wins the battle. In another instance they play poker against each other. They’re both shown to be good at it, but Hallie is better and wins the poker game. The main issue here is, once again, they have the same actress. Lindsay Lohan isn’t the most disguisable actress, and they didn’t do much to differentiate her appearance in each role aside from the wardrobe.

Winner: Hallie and Annie win it again! They have more consistent differences. Lindsay Lohan does a better job at making sure each character feels different when she’s playing each role. The script also does a good job of making them both similar and different without going to extremes.

Relationship:

  • Sharon and Susie. These two have a pretty realistic relationship development, but, once again, they get a little less once the movie gets going. They don’t get along at first. Their differences cause them to make some pretty harsh judgements about each other. This results in an all out prank war and quite a few fights when they’re in camp. Once they get over this however, they become pretty fast friends. They’re close, but there’s no indication of a realistic relationship, either. They stay together constantly and don’t show much of a difference in opinion, nor do they do anything overly thoughtful for one another. They’re just…there.
  • Hallie and Annie. They have pretty much the same story as Sharon and Susie. They fight in camp, refuse to get along, and get over it all once they realize they’re twins. The difference is that their relationship is extended beyond this. They have a few chats over the phone that result in arguments, mostly because Hallie is enjoying her time with her mom while Annie is worried her dad will get married. They do come together again once Hallie realizes the situation, and each enjoys spending time together in the attempt to thwart their father’s potential marriage. They get so close, in fact, that both Hallie AND her father make the decision to go after Annie and their mom when they decide to part ways again. Hallie and Annie have many disagreements, but by the end of the movie it’s obvious how much they care for each other.

Winner: Surprise! It’s Hallie and Annie. A lot of the relationship dynamic is the same, but Hallie and Annie have the advantage of being more explored as characters. Their relationship is stronger for the extra screen time they receive.

Plot:

Sharon and Susie: What’s nice about every ‘Parent Trap’ is that the twin characters share some of the storyline, but they also spend a good chunk of the movie separated in order to switch places. This separation tends to be used to introduce the audience to the parents and family friends, but it’s nice to see Sharon attempt to figure out her relationship with her father while Susie is having completely different problems on her end. They interact with different family members, start different relationships with these family members than their sister had, and overall get a nice amount of story to themselves without having to be together.

Hallie and Annie: I’d say this is pretty much the same. They get separate storylines at the same points in the movie. Their storylines converge at the same points as well. Even though they get slightly more screen time, I’d say it serves the same purpose when it comes to the overall plot.

Winner: Tie. There are some differences between the movies, but the overall plot is the same.

Final Result:

There’s a pretty obvious winner here and it’s Hallie and Annie. I think most of their advantages have to do with the fact that their movie was a remake of a version that came out several decades beforehand. Not only is the 1998 movie longer, it also mastered the storyline of the original. The movie was better paced, spent more time on characters the original didn’t seem to have time for, and didn’t push our main characters to the background once the romance plot started becoming important. Hallie and Annie have more personality to them. They have clearly defined traits that aren’t exactly the opposite of one other, allowing them to bond over their similarities without having the same personality. They were both written as individual characters at all times. Lindsay Lohan was able to play them with differences too, despite the fact that both characters look exactly the same because they share an actress. There’s definitely some downsides to Hallie and Annie, but there’s a reason why so many twins connect to these two.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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