Review by John Dugan
The premise of The One is rather simple: a matchmaking service that can genetically determine your perfect mate with a DNA sample from a single strand of hair. This idyllic sounding premise however, results in a show focused on anything but. In its first 8-episode season airing on Netflix, based on the novel by John Marrs, The One manages to be a strange yet satisfying mix of a soap opera and crime drama, attempting to balance a series of separate, interconnected storylines. These each explore different aspects of how “matching” can affect and disrupt relationships and lives, beyond the idealized premise of finding a “one true love”.
The core of the story surrounds the aptly named Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware), who throughout the season is shown to be manipulative, controlling, and calculating. Rebecca is one of the founders of “The One”, the company responsible for this genetically guaranteed matchmaking service. Her motivations at first appear to stem from a genuine desire to see as many people as possible find happiness the way she has found happiness with her match, Ethan (Wilf Scolding). But as the story unravels, we see her dark past and obsession with control. Opposing Rebecca is detective Kate Saunders (Zoë Tapper), a determined woman who has been tempted into using “The One” to find her match. When a body is discovered in the Thames of a missing person, their paths are drawn together.
One strength of the show was the fast pacing, sparing no time in engaging its audience with the different storylines. There were no scenes that felt particularly slow, and each line of dialogue felt integral to either the overall story or necessary as character development. However this could also be seen as The One’s greatest weakness– there is no breathing room to allow the viewer to process plot points, or theorize for themself about the direction or unanswered questions of the show. In a similar vein, another off-putting point was the sheer number of storylines that were attempted to be fit into the story, not all of which felt essential to the show’s overall quality, and only served to make the already packed episodes feel even more overwhelming. On top of this, some plot lines were picked up or dropped seemingly at random, resulting in many sudden shifts between scenes and abrupt character interactions.
Overall, I find these flaws forgivable. The One, despite these issues, does attempt to flesh out each story to its fullest potential, exploring the messy possibilities that arise with the question of “genetically determined matches” on real existing relationships, while also including a queer relationship as one of the story’s central focuses. The production value was high quality, and ultimately, The One is entertaining to watch, especially for those who might enjoy the melodramatics of a crime drama or soap opera.