Twins in Media (Round 2): Twitches vs. Liv and Maddie

Screenshot of Tia and Tamera Mowry in ‘Twitches’. Copyright goes to Disney.

Hey! Hallie here!

This week in Twins in Media we’re looking into the two Disney Channel twins that made it past our first round. Liv and Maddie are a more recent interpretation of twins that have some surprisingly realistic pieces of their relationship. However, they still suffer from many damning tropes. And Twitches, surprisingly, hits a lot of the same beats. They also have endearing pieces of their relationship that twins can relate to. But they also have many tropes that will most definitely pull them down in this battle. These two have some surprising similarities and I have no idea who’s going to win this one, so lets just get started!

Audience Perspective:

Twitches: Camryn and Alex are pretty well-rounded characters. They spend a lot of the plot together, but they have separate storylines that branch off on occasion. These storylines include an entire cast of side characters for each twin, which helps show off their different relationships with the people around them. Camryn has a close friend she shops with and has a very close relationship with her parents. Alex’s single mother passed away right before the events of the movie, but she has an almost sisterly bond with her childhood best friend. Unfortunately, a lot of this is the result of the Separated at Birth trope. These two do have a good connecting storyline, though. They both play very sperate roles in the legacy they face. Camryn represents the sun and drew many of the scenes the girls encounter throughout their journey as a child. Alex represents the moon and wrote most of their story without realizing she was one of the characters she was envisioning. Camryn is excited about the idea of having magical powers while Alex is skeptical. A lot of this slips into the Opposites trope, which is never realistic. But, at the very least, the movies spends as much time as possible trying to make sure these characters have separate personalities. Regardless of the tropes, this is important for any twin characters.

Liv and Maddie: These characters get a bit more time to explore their separate personalities because they have an entire television series dedicated to their character development. They have separate friends, separate relationship drama, and yet, once again, often fall into the Opposites trope. Liv and Maddie don’t suffer from the Separated at Birth trope, fortunately. They do, however, have a storyline where Liv moved away when she was quite young, which doesn’t create the most realistic dynamic between the two. The Opposites trope is played up a lot in reference to the very different conditions Liv and Maddie have been living in in the recent years. Liv has been living as a superstar while Maddie has been living a normal life and putting her focus on basketball. Once again, this does benefit the characters by highlighting to the audience that Liv and Maddie are different people. But it isn’t a realistic way of depicting twins, and often perpetuates the idea that twins must have drastic differences in order to be perceived as separate people. The one benefit here is that their relationship is really healthy. When their storylines do converge they’re allowed to fight, disagree, share common interests, and act as best friends. This is more than can be said of their competitors, who don’t have the luxury of being familiar enough with one another to act this way.

Winner: Liv and Maddie win this by a very small margin. Both sets of twins have well developed personalities and equally focused on stories, so it isn’t much of an issue of the characters needing to be developed separately. The biggest issue with both sets of twins is that the writers made each sister so insanely different from each other that it becomes unrealistic. Liv and Maddie win because they get a bit more time for their personalities to be explored, and because the friendship between the sisters reflects a real sisterly relationship a bit better.

Twin Perspective:

Twitches: I already started the trope talk above because the major tropes they suffer from are really ingrained into their characters. First is the Separated at Birth trope, which ensures that the girls spend more of the movie trying to get to know one another rather than acting as actual siblings. And, as usual, the Separated at Birth trope runs right into the Opposites trope. They were raised in opposite environments doing opposite things. Because of that their personalities are drastically different, and their powers, the moon and the sun, match their different personalities. This, once again, perpetuates the idea that twins either have to be the same person or complete opposites to be recognized as twins. Their powers are another major problem. Their powers are presented as two halves of the same whole, implying that Camryn and Alex can’t be complete without one another. I assure you, twins are complete individuals without their sibling. The fact that the movie strips the characters of their individuality while also portraying them as entirely different is quite a feat. What Camryn and Alex do get right, however, is the casting of actual twins. As a twin, I can absolutely tell the difference between two twin actors playing twin roles, and one actor attempting to pull of twin characters. Twins always have physical differences, even if those differences are small. They also have different acting styles, which makes watching twin actors more fascinating. Camryn and Alex are more compelling as twins because they have separate actors who happen to be twins.

Liv and Maddie: These two were affected by the Opposites trope from the very beginning. They were advertised as the “tomboy” and “girly-girl” in every poster and commercial. And the show doesn’t do much to fight back against this common trope. While Liv and Maddie don’t suffer from many of the things twins written with the Separated at Birth trope suffer from, the show does use a similar story device to drive an even bigger gap between the two girls’ differences. The superstar vs. the normal girl is constantly brought up throughout the show to try to make the two look even more like opposites. However, they don’t have to spend most of the series getting to know one another. They spend most of the series acting like sisters. Not only that, but the quote “Sisters by chance, friends by choice”, is a very realistic way of portraying twins. The quote implies that they have found similarities despite their differences, and even despite the ties they’re expected to have because they’re twins, that make them want to spend time with one another. All that said, one of the biggest issues with Liv and Maddie is that they’re portrayed by the same actress. And I wouldn’t even say they’re portrayed by the same actress well. Dove Cameron acts very much the same as both characters, leaving a change in vocal pitch and costuming to do all the work. Take her acting for emotional scenes, for example. There is never a difference between how Liv or Maddie respond to bad news. You will always find the same exhale turns into the same crying. You will never find a different habit of Liv’s that Maddie doesn’t have, or vice versa. These characters are some of the biggest proof that one actor should not be playing two twin characters.

Winner: Liv and Maddie. While the casting of one actress definitely holds these characters back, the tropes they suffer from are much less harmful. They’re allowed to be themselves without the narrative suggesting they’re incomplete without each other.

Winner: I have to give this to Liv and Maddie. I can gripe about the acting in the show all I want. And I will, because it’s frustrating that so many pieces of media think they can get away with using the same person to portray twins. All without having to acknowledge the stereotype of “twins are the same person” that always comes along with that. However, Liv and Maddie do make an effort to portray actual twins with a healthy sibling relationship. They are opposites, but they still have similarities. They have many of the same friends but have different relationships with those friends. They like many of the same things and disagree about many other things. And the show emphasizes their friendship over everything else. Twitches uses it’s twin characters to explore twin magical abilities, and their sibling relationship isn’t realistic, or even relatable considering they spend most of the movie not knowing who the other one is. Liv and Maddie put more effort into creating their twin characters, and it shows.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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