Sitting at a table packed with his family members, a man recalls the chemistry he felt upon meeting the woman he’d soon marry. “It was undeniable,” he gushes; “I have never been happier,” his wife declares. This saccharine display will be familiar to anyone who’s scrolled through Instagram on Valentine’s Day, but the couple are the first success story of a different algorithm: the extraordinary “test” at the heart of AMC’s Soulmates. Each of the anthology show’s six episodes is set sometime in the near future, after the discovery of a “soul particle” leads to the creation of a scientific assessment that can match anyone with their, well, you know.
If this all sounds very Black Mirror, that may be because of the new show’s DNA: One of the Soulmates creators, William Bridges, won an Emmy for his work on the long-running British series. Along with his co-creator, Brett Goldstein, Bridges teases out the dystopian possibilities of Soulmates’ premise through vignettes that weave together horror, cult fiction, and even explorations of abuse. The best episodes of the series, which has already been renewed for a second season, are those that use its outlandish matchmaking test to highlight normal relationship obstacles. Chief among these is the belief, conscious or otherwise, that finding one’s perfect partner will solve all of life’s problems. Many of the characters aren’t just desperate for love; they also want reassurance that everything is going to be okay in the end.