Twins in Media: Dipper and Mabel vs. Poppet and Widget

Screenshot from ‘Gravity Falls’. Copyright of Disney Channel and Disney Television Animation.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Another week of the twin showdown and now we have one that is truly going to hurt me, but this time it’s actually because both of these depictions are so good! The last time I posted I completely tore into pairs of twins that were so terrible that declaring a winner was almost more of a formality. Both of these depictions deserve to win, so this’ll be a nice change! These are two depictions of fraternal twins with opposite genders, which as I’ve said before, is pretty different from identical twins in media. Most of the issues of depicting twins in media occur with twins of the same gender, but that doesn’t mean that fraternal twin depictions are perfect. The fact that these are still so good are an accomplishment. So let’s see if ‘Gravity Falls’ or ‘The Night Circus’ is actually the best!

Tropes:

Dipper and Mabel: The issues with Dipper and Mabel lie mostly with the fandom actually. They do not suffer from having exactly the same or exact opposite personalities, they were not separated at birth, and they don’t have a weirdly physically close relationship that most siblings don’t. However, part of the reason the fandom for Gravity Falls grew so large was because of people beginning to ship the siblings together. It’s incest guys! Incest! Why the hell… Anyways, though I will eternally be frustrated with the fandom for creating this absolutely horrifying ship, this is not a flaw in the depictions of twins by the show itself. The show never even hints at anything like that, because why would it? I can’t blame the show for the awful ideas that some, not all, of the fans had.

Poppet and Widget: Though Poppet and Widget do not suffer from having opposite or too similar personalities, it gets a bit more complicated when you add superpowers into the mix. When making twin characters have superpowers, writers will never be able to resist giving them complementary super powers despite the fact that the two characters have very different personalities. Poppet can look into the future while Widget can look into the past. It’s all a little too cliché. But I will definitely give them props for at least not letting this bleed into their personalities.

Winner: Dipper and Mabel have to win this one. While I am incredibly disgusted by what some members of the fandom did, that should not reflect on the writer. Especially considering that the writer of Gravity Falls is a twin himself, so I very highly doubt he approves of this either. Ignoring that, Gravity Falls doesn’t really fall into twin trope traps.

Differences and Similarities:

Dipper and Mabel: Dipper and Mabel are not by any means exact opposites. They have very similar interests in their love for adventure. But they are by no means similar either. Dipper is more reserved while Mabel is quite possibly the most eccentric character to ever appear on television. They are different from each other, but they don’t fall into extremes. They work well off of each other, but they don’t have to be complementary in order to do so. It is clear that these two are regular siblings who grew up in the same household but still have different personalities.

Poppet and Widget: Their personalities are great! Poppet is a bit more compassionate while Widget often defaults to sarcastic, but they still have similar interest in the circus and do a lot together. They also are just different. If this was just based off of their personalities, they would be perfect. Unfortunately, the superpowers thrown into this mix throws off the balance. You have to admit that being able to see into the future versus the past is a textbook example of giving twins exact opposite traits. I know that authors think that this is cool, but I would love to see more pairs of superpower twins that have unrelated powers. Like Wanda and Pietro for example.

Winner: Dipper and Mabel. So far it almost seems as though they can do no wrong. They bounce well off of each other while acting like any regular siblings would. This would have been a tie if not for the superpower thing.

Relationship:

Dipper and Mabel: They have an extremely realistic relationship. They fight sometimes and they don’t always understand exactly what the other is doing, but they are always there for each other. More than anything, the writer of this show wanted to depict the brother and sister as friends. With so many shows out there constantly pitting sibling characters against each other for drama, he wanted to show siblings who are legitimately there for each other. I would say he succeeded in this. Dipper and Mabel go through the regular ups and downs of a sibling relationship without anything being glossed over because “they’re twins and they’re supposed to be close.” He never turned them completely against each other either. They strike a really nice balance.

Poppet and Widget: In a similar vein, they act like actual siblings. They both are introverted together at parties and they also have disagreements. Widget most definitely lets Poppet know when he thinks she’s crazy, and Poppet in turn confronts Widget for being rude. As much of their storyline is focused on them being tour guides for the circus for Bailey, we don’t see them alone a lot. But when we do, they’re perfectly fine and great examples of regular siblings. I don’t really see anything wrong here.

Winner: Tie. None of them really take any sort of stumble here. Though Dipper and Mabel’s relationship is a bit more explored, I don’t want to take points off because Poppet and Widget do serve the story in the way they need to.

Plot:

Dipper and Mabel: They have an entire series focused on them. You see them each at their best and worst both together and separately. The show was written as a fantasized account of a real pair of twins and their adventures, so obviously they have a leg up there. They fight evil together and also have separate experiences. Mabel has several crushes and a candy addiction to deal with while Dipper has to sort through his feelings for Wendy. They get all of the plot, so obviously they’re pretty good here.

Poppet and Widget: ‘The Night Circus’ is basically split in half, with one storyline about the main romantic couple and the other about Poppet and Widget assisting Bailey with taking over the circus. The romantic couple is the main plot line, so they do get the majority of the book. But Poppet and Widget do still maintain their status as main characters because of how much they are in the second plot line, and they do also show up in the first plot line as well. Most of their storyline is, admittedly, together. However, there are a few times where they do break off. Poppet talks to Bailey one on one several times because of their sub-plot romance and Widget confronts Celia in one amazing scene without the help of his sister. They do have enough both together and separate.

Winner: Another tie. Neither of them suffer from always being forced to do the same things because of storyline.

Final result:

Dipper and Mabel take it. Even when I began writing this I had a feeling they would win simply because you have twins actually writing twins. Of course you’re going to get a better representation of what being a twin is actually like if a twin writes it. Dipper and Mabel are a great example of close twins because they are exactly like any close siblings would be. They aren’t given any sort of telepathy in order to understand each other and their relationship isn’t creepy. If you ask me these two are definitely under consideration for winning this entire thing. I just wish we could get twins of the same gender to be written similarly.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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