Mary-Kate & Ashley Documentary The Twins Explores Culture's Twin Obsession
Lifelong Olsen Twins fan Zara Meerza explores culture’s obsession with twins, Y2K fashion, and celebrity.
Filmmaker Zara Meerza, a lifelong Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fan who undoubtedly has a stack of Tiger Beat magazines stashed away in an attic somewhere, went from collecting Olsen paraphernalia as a kid to turning that obsession into a job.
She’s taken her own fandom and turned it into a short documentary she describes as “a more unconventional take on the pop culture documentary,” exploring the Olsen twins’ impact on millennial women, the trappings of Y2K culture and fashion, as well as a cultural fascination with twins.
In a short trailer that slowly reveals a photo of the Olsens on the red carpet, Meerza asks the crucial questions: “Was it Full House? Was it fame? Was it fashion? Was it coffee cups, cigarettes, and sunglasses? Or is it nostalgia? What is it about twins that makes them so mysterious? What is it that draws us in? What is it about them? Are you a Mary-Kate or an Ashley?”
“[I] never failed to be surprised when I met more and more people as I got older who maintained the same level of excitement about the twins, even after they largely moved out of the public eye,” Meerza said in a statement. “After a few years of working in the documentary field, a practice where you examine the intention of everything, I began to think about my, and all of our, affection for the twins and started to revisit their materials, falling deeper into studies of twinship and mystery than I could’ve imagined.”
As an Indian-British woman growing up in the UK in the ’90s, Meerza, who both directed and narrates the film, is particularly interested in how the Olsens and Y2K fashion relates to Western ideals of female adolescent beauty, and what a cultural obsession with the Olsens telegraphs to young women.
“I wanted to create a frame through which we could reassess the feelings their films provoke — the twins’ movies are quite inaccessible online so to be a steward of interpretation, to bring these films back to the public in this way at this time, when their audience is mostly grown, felt right,” Meerza says.
The documentary is produced by WePresent, the digital arts platform of WeTransfer, releases on WePresent on June 23. Watch the trailer, below.