Twinning: a Twinteresting Concept

Host Angie Greenup introduces the contestants to the challenge course on VH1's Twinning.
Twinning (Photo: VH1)

VH1’s Twinning is the goofy summer competition that we’ve been waiting for.

Show

Twinning, which airs at 10pm Wednesdays on VH1.

Premise

Studies have shown that there is some kind of special bond shared by twins. VH1 has decided to put that premise to the test with its new “throw a bunch of people in a house” reality competition Twinning. Eight pairs of twins compete each week in tests of “twintuition” in the hopes of being the last pair standing. The winners will split a prize of $222,222.22.

Lineage

Twinning is produced by Lighthearted Entertainment, which is behind VH1’s Dating Naked (also on Wednesdays) and the long-defunct Moment of Truth and Next. The show is hosted by experienced cable host Angie Greenup, though the show may have missed an opportunity by not enlisting twin hosts.

Who is Twinning For?

Once it was revealed that the pairs would be split, with one half living in a blue version of “the house” and the other half living in a green version, it instantly reminded me of Opposite Worlds. Although this show has no social media component1, I think this is the setup OW was going for but that Twinning is actually capable of executing.

What Works

The basic premise of Twinning is a little goofy on paper, but seeing it play out on the screen is at once unsettling and fascinating. We see several interview clips of the pairs talking in unison and finishing each other’s sentences, which comes across as a bit stage-y, but then we see several examples of uncanny synchronization. For example, during the Twin Off, the elimination contest between two pairs each week, there was a moment when Skyler and Spencer are seen swaying in unison, even though the staging prevented the two guys from seeing each other.

The editors also appear to be having a lot of fun piecing this show together. Transitions between actions in the two houses are handled in a couple of tongue-in-cheek ways. The first involves matching physical positions, such as when one twin is seen hugging someone and then we see the other twin hugging someone in the other house. Sometimes this is shown via a blue/red/green color slide effect, other times it is shown in split screen.

The second type of transition involves one twin guessing what the other is talking/thinking at that moment. As the groups explored their respective new homes, we see beefy Adam comment “hey, there’s a gym,” before immediately cutting over to his brother Cory commenting “hey, there’s a gym.”2

Granted, these coincidences are probably not simultaneous (as the editing suggests), but I think there is a kernel of truth to what the show is suggesting is happening.

What Doesn’t Work

Midway through the episode the pairs compete in a Double Down Challenge. Each house is on one side of a wall as the pairs try to complete the challenge without directly communicating with one another. It is an interesting concept, but isn’t the most visually interesting contest. The first few teams to complete the challenge are the “twinners”3 and get 24 hours to move freely between both houses and mingle with their sibling and other players. The twinners also get to vote on who is up for elimination in the Twin Off.

The Twin Off is probably the weakest part of Twinning. It is essentially the Newlywed Game, where the two pairs up for elimination are asked somewhat esoteric questions and try to give matching answers, such as “how many minutes do you arrive at the airport before a flight” and “what one word describes your fashion sense.” Granted, this is testing exactly what the show wants to test, but the first-to-five format slams on the brakes for what was an otherwise popping show. I can see this improving over the course of the series, partly as the audience gets to know more about the contestants and since there won’t be as much explanation required beyond the first couple episodes.

Verdict

If the “this season on…” clips are any indication, Twinning will devolve a bit into the Real World–this is an MTV network joint with people in their 20s after all. However, the goofiness of the concept and the playfulness of the production make Twinninga delightful summer competition.

  1. THANK YOU  
  2. Or maybe it was Cory first and Adam second?  
  3. Oooof.  

A Brief Word From Our Sponsors:

About Mike McComb 656 Articles

Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.” After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv