One of the best things about AMC’s Soulmates is how little it actually reveals about the test around which the entire anthology orbits. In quick order it’s confirmed that, in this-near future of ours, we A) definitively have a soul B) definitively have a soulmate C) this is something science can detect based on a test. It’s never clear what the test is or any of this works, and that’s really fine because it doesn’t really matter. There’s skepticism from characters, but also general acceptance that this is all real. Whether it works regarding true love, though, is a different story.
Six different stories, to be exact, written by Will Bridges (Black Mirror) and Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso). In each episode of this anthology, we meet characters who are questioning their lives in the wake of the test’s availability. Basically, if you had the option, would you? Is there someone out there for them? Or if they are already in a relationship, is there someone else who is a better fit? And if so, what does that look like in practical terms?
What’s great about Soulmates is that focus on the practical. It’s a new way to explore an old subject regarding romantic relationships and how we search for partners. And there are a variety of permutations here: your soulmate might be married (perhaps you are as well), they could also be dead. Some are psychos. Many are exploiting the system.
Over these six rich episodes, Soulmates seems to mostly lean in favor of natural interactions versus those dictated by tech. But it’s also clear that these relationships, or at least the potential promise of a forever connection, mainly teach you a lot about yourself. The same is true for viewers. Soulmates is a psychological show that doesn’t overplay its hand. There are twists—some of them are creepy, sad, strange, or surprising in turn—but everything feels like a natural (if occasionally rushed) extrapolation of intriguing hypotheses.
The strength of the cast and the engaging storytelling help mitigate the fact that we spend very little time with these people. Any one of these stories could sustain an entire series, and in some ways the show might have been better for it. But thanks to great performances (from a largely British cast playing Americans) including Sarah Snook, Kingsley Ben-Adir, David Costabile, Sonya Cassidy, Charlie Heaton, Malin Akerman, Bill Skarsgård, and Betsy Brandt, it’s easy to become immediately invested in each new story—though leaving them behind is more of a challenge.
Each episode feels like the start of a longer conversation, but it’s important to say as little as possible about the particulars; the journey these stories take (and the twists, of course) are worth the surprise. Like any anthology series, your mileage may vary as to which episodes strike a chord more than others, but all are worthwhile considerations of the nature of love—or perhaps the science of it. Either way, Soulmates aims for the messy heart of the matter.
Soulmates premieres Monday, October 5th on AMC.
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.