The Cheesy Plot:
On the list of lazy plot lines, it's hard to top throwing an evil twin into the mix. While it's mostly famous as a soap opera trope, sci-fi shows also love beating this contrivance into the ground. Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it with the hot vampire Willow. Arnold Schwarzenegger did it in the The 6th Day which was... less hot. There are a multitude of other ways to shoe-horn it in there: Maybe they're a clone, maybe the characters meet their double in an alternate universe, or perhaps--if you're in a Jerry O'Connell vehicle--you meet your double whenever the writers can't figure out a good plotline. Or maybe there was just an argument in the writer's room about how the only way Allyson Hannigan is hotter is if she's on Allyson Hannigan (which is an argument that we the viewers all collectively won).
Shit Gets Real:
But don't believe everything you hear. Not everybody has a doppelganger. Just a few unlucky bastards like Joseph Lesurques. He almost exactly resembled a thief who had brutally murdered a bunch of people at a mail carriage and, despite the fact that he had an alibi and plenty of people willing to stand up for his character, they packed his ass off to the guillotine anyway. Exactly the kind of jurisprudence we expect from Victorian-era France.
Good thing we as a society have advanced since then and developed techniques like DNA testing... that we don't use. Ronald Cotton was identified by Jennifer Thompson as her rapist, repeatedly, on the stand. Cotton even got another conviction overturned and retried, wherein a different woman also thought he raped her. So that Cotton guy got exactly what he deser- oh hey, did we mention that there was a guy in prison loudly and profoundly bragging about how this Ronald Cotton sucker was serving time for the rapes he committed? And that a judge refused to allow that in court? Because that's just the kind of shit that happens in North Carolina? The entire state is like a Hugh Grant movie, chock full of wacky misunderstandings, only instead of romantic shenanigans everything ends in forced sodomy and injustice.
But all of those were just very convincing lookalikes. For the pure evil twins, look at the Han sisters, Sunny and Jean: Among Jean's bigger exploits were lying to get out of the Air Force, a whole bunch of check fraud and several attempts to impersonate Sunny. After those impersonation attempts failed, she decided to step her game up by hiring two teens to kill her sister. Luckily police arrived on scene before that could happen, and authorities were able to apprehend the correct sister. Presumably after they cornered the two and, finding themselves unsure of who to shoot, discerned the correct target when the good one spoke up and screamed, "Shoot us both; it's the only way to be sure!"
The Cheesy Plot:
If you ever see an episode of a sitcom set at a hotel or a restaurant, a common plotline is to mistake some random schmuck for a respected critic while treating the real critic like shit. Even brilliant artists like Alfred Hitchcock used this gag. In The 39 Steps, the hero, who had already been mistaken once for an enemy spy, tries to lose some cops in the crowd surrounding a political rally. He stumbles on stage, where they mistake him for the guest speaker. In true wacky cliche style, he manages to improvise a rousing speech and still escape his pursuers, all while in handcuffs. Which just reinforces what we've been saying all along: If Hitchcock were alive today, he'd be directing Friends.
Shit Gets Real:
Sometimes, though, life turns into one of those zany romps. Guy Goma was waiting on a job interview at the BBC when a receptionist wandered in and asked for "Guy." Of course, she was looking for Guy Kewney, who was going on air to speak about Apple and the Beatles suing each other because--and this just shows that you can revolutionize the handheld gadget industry and the pop music genre, yet still be complete and utter tools--they both thought they owned the rights to the word "apple." Goma apparently thought this was part of his job interview, and managed to show some surprising restraint considering how completely irrelevant the interview questions for Supply Manager were getting--until about halfway in he realizes, holy shit, this is actually going out on air:
Goma, perhaps hoping to prove beyond question that he is indeed an "adaptive multi-tasker who thinks on this feet," just up and rolled with it. Unsurprisingly, he didn't get the job. But since then, he's had a string of TV appearances, they might be making his life into a movie and he's become the official poster boy of "Goin' With the Flow" everywhere. Sorry, McCounaghey.
The Cheesy Plot:
This one has been around so long it predates TV: Shakespeare used it in Romeo and Juliet most famously. The idea is that you take a drug which reduces your bodily functions down to the point that, for all intents and purposes, you're deader than "All Your Base." Hollywood just took that, removed the whole "teenagers stabbing themselves in the heart" thing and ran with it. It's pretty common on fantasy shows. Even serious, 100 percent fact based dramas like 24 will feature Jack Bauer faking his death with drugs, since his daughter wasn't handy to lure a cougar in to maul him.
Shit Gets Real:
As stupid as "a drug can fake death" sounds, it actually does exist. It even inspired one of our most beloved horror cliches: Namely, zombies. Somebody actually got their hands on the zombie powder used by Voodoo practitioners and discovered that, in addition to bird feathers, ground-up bones and whatever other garbage the priest had laying around, its main ingredient is pufferfish. Pufferfish are chock-full of tetrodotoxin, which as we've noted before is a great way to die horribly. But if you take just enough of it, you'll just get really, horribly sick and depress your system so much that everybody will think you're dead.
Of course, Hollywood leaves out the whole "vomiting everywhere and seizing uncontrollably" bit, but really, we don't need to see Jack Bauer doing the puke-covered booty-clapper. Knowing he does the Jack Bauer Power Dump is good enough for us.
You can find more Dan at seitzeeing.wordpress.com.
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