Netflix is making a new, eight-episode British series called “The One” available on Friday, and the premise is strong. It’s a near-future story, in the manner of “Black Mirror,” in which a woman named Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware) heads up a dating company that searches DNA samples to create perfect, genetic-based romantic matches. The company, called The One, is massively successful, and worth tons of money, and Rebecca has become a kind of cult leader, urging her followers to stop gambling on relationships and go for her more dependable service.
Many people are against The One, often because they can see it breaking up families. One spouse sends in his or her DNA, mostly just curious about the identity of their perfect match — and boom, there goes the marriage. On the show, one happily married person sends in their spouse’s DNA, in order to keep the spouse far away from the person they’re meant to be with — and I’m betting that won’t go well.
Based on the richness of the idea — one explored somewhat differently on AMC’s anthology series “Soulmates” — I wanted to like “The One.” After three episodes, though, I felt disappointment at the direction taken by writer Howard Overman. Too much of the storyline I saw was dominated by Rebecca’s history and her possible connection to a body that has just been discovered in the river after a year. We know she’s a horrible person, willing to do anything including blackmail to keep her business going. But is she a murderer? I mostly didn’t care. There’s a cop on her trail, of course, as well as a co-founder who has mysteriously dropped out of the business.
The murder plot just seemed to distract from the juicy stuff. I wanted more about how the matches work — the material that is here on that topic is good — and less about Rebecca and her history. What about when The One matches people who don’t identify as LGBTQ with a person of the same sex? How much of the success of The One’s matches is the placebo effect?
Perhaps I’d feel differently if Ware had a little more fun as the ruthless boss with no scruples. She’s humorless and not quite the kind of TV villain who makes bad into good entertainment. I do plan to finish the series, and I’ll be sure to let you know if my opinion improves.