AMC’s ‘Soulmates’ Is Smartest When Not Trying to Be ‘Black Mirror’: TV Review

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“What if a new piece of tech could tell you who your soulmate is?” isn’t exactly fresh territory for science fiction. The idea that love could (should?) boil down to a science is an appealing, if unnerving, fantasy. “Soulmates,” the latest iteration of this concept, doesn’t work too hard to explain how such a game-changing technology became possible in its near future world. Instead, it imagines what the arrival of a foolproof soulmate “test” would do to the shift people’s perspectives on what “true love” means, challenge those already in relationships and make the world an irrevocably different place. From co-creators Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”) and Will Bridges (writer of “Black Mirror” episode “U.S.S. Callister”), each of the six episodes focuses on an entirely different story and set of relationships. The chapters that work best, by a mile, are the ones that remain as firmly grounded in reality as a futuristic series can.

Take the first episode. “Watershed” stars Sarah Snook (“Succession”) and Kingsley Ben-Adir (“High Fidelity”) as Nikki and Franklin, a couple that’s been married since they met in college and quickly — perhaps too quickly — became each other’s everything. 15 years later, they’re living in a world in which they have to go to a new soulmate wedding every weekend, Nikki finds herself helplessly furious at the fact that her stable marriage has become a relic. She was happy, she thinks. But now, as seemingly everyone around her starts taking the test and finding their ideal partner, she can’t be so sure. The ensuing hour, anchored by a terrific Snook performance, is painful and revealing, finding pockets of devastating insight tucked away in the dark corners neither Nikki nor Franklin have addressed in years. The soulmate test is the instigator, but the intimate drama of them poking