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Twin Stereotypes in the Media

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Updated April 22, 2013

Twins are popular characters in books, television and movies. There seems to be a fascination with twins that make them an appealing way to generate drama or intrigue in stories. However, often these characterizations are based on stereotypes of twins and don’t really represent the truth about twins. The public maintains many stereotypes about twins, and the generalizations perpetuated by the media often reinforce negative stereotypes.

Here are some stereotypes I’ve observed in the media. What about you? When you encounter an example of twins in literature, movies or television, submit it to add to the collection.

Terrrible Twins: One of the most common portrayals of twins is as incorrigible rascals. As a duo, they wreak havoc. They team up to create mischief. They fight and argue. Parents of twins will acknowledge that there is sometimes a measure of truth in this characterization, and certainly, it has been a popular theme for a long time. Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of the city of Rome, were twin brothers who fought over the city boundaries to the point that Romulus killed his brother.

Some examples of terrible twins: Preston and Porter Scavo in the television show Desperate Housewives, Zack and Cody in the television show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Kyle and Nigel Baker in Cheaper by the Dozen, (Trivia note: Real-life twins Brent and Shane Kinsman played both role of twins on Desperate Housewives and in the movie Cheaper by the Dozen.) Finally, Fred and George Weasley are twin characters in the Harry Potter series of books and movies.

Tantilizing Twins: Twins, especially identical twins, are often used as a symbol of sexual fantasy in the media. An example is the Asian twins in the Austin Powers Goldmember movie.

Threatening Twins: Sinister twin characters lend an air of menace and malice. Some examples are the twins in movies like The Matrix and The Shining.

Evil Twin: The ultimate symbol of good vs. evil, this is an extremely popular theme in soap operas. Among a set of twins, one twin is good, while the other is evil. Often the good twin is blamed with the evil doings and must fight to restore his image. One of the longest running stories about an evil twin was on the soap opera, All My Children, involving Adam and Stuart Chandler.

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