Since Ryan Murphy revived the anthology drama with American Horror Story, everybody wants a piece of the pie.
Others such as Charlie Brooker, Noah Hawley, Mark Duplass & Jay Duplass, Nic Pizzolatto and Jordan Peele have all found success with the form, whether in complete seasons or self-contained episodes.
Soulmates by William Bridges and Brett Goldstein is the latest entry to the genre from Amazon Prime.
Not far removed from the world of Black Mirror, each episode centres around the concept of Soul Connex, a company trading in the breakthrough test which can scientifically determine your perfect life partner. Set 15 years into the future, their lab test entails a quick retina scan playing matchmaker with its clients.
Episode one centres around young mother Nikki (Sarah Snook) whose friend Jennifer (Dolly Wells) reveals she is frustrated with her marriage and decides to take the Soul Connex test. Even her brother Peter (Darren Boyd) announces, “I took the test… 2 weeks later my soulmate is now my wife.”
As she looks around and sees a world full of cosy couples, Nikki wonders whether she too should take the test. Is her husband Franklin (Kingsley Ben-Adir) really the right man, despite their seemingly perfect marriage?
“What if it’s not enough…?”
Doubts play on Nikki’s mind for much of the episode, although I’m less clear on why she is questioning her happiness. With an hour to tell its short story, not much else comprises the foreground here, but thankfully the wonderful Sarah Snook (Succession, The Beautiful Lie) is a pleasure to watch.
There are doses of possible improvisation, but the photography clings to hand-held cameras too much, at risk of making one seasick. The ending is also easy to see coming, making this no contest with Black Mirror‘s bent world.
Episode two is less predictable, starring David Costabile as a middle-aged art professor confronted by Alison (Sonya Cassidy) who hacked the Soul Connex system after not receiving any match. She is convinced the professor is her perfect partner -despite them both being married. What to do next….?
Costabile (Billions, Breaking Bad) grows increasingly nervous as this plot takes twists and turns, all exploring the ramifications of the miraculous new breakthrough. Are you really with the right person for life? Could you do better… should you do better and risk all in the process?
There are six episodes in the first season, with a second already approved -but will that move on from the Soul Connex world?
Soulmates begins today on Amazon Prime Video.