Ringer is a television show that welcomes back a much beloved actress in a new role. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Sibhon Martin and her twin sister Bridget Kelly. The show intrigued me, the way stories about twins have sparked my interest since Sweet Valley High's Jessica and Elizabeth from their kid days until college. I even read the special books.
This ain't no Sweet Valley (despite the concept of twins and swapping places).This also isn't a fun fest where Mary-Kate and Ashley run around for 90 minutes of shenanigans.
Bridget Kelly has witnessed a murder. Upon being asked to stand trial by the local police (Nestor Carbonell, Lost and The Tick), she realizes that before and after testifying, she'll be vulnerable to an ex-boss and killer on the loose. Despite years estranged, Bridget flies to New York, where her Shibhon (Shiv-on) has forgiven her. Something strange happens, and Bridget takes on Shibhon's identity, and unbenownst to her, Shibhon's messy life.
Why it's Good
Unlike Revenge or Tru Blood (at least season 1), the antics while stretched from reality, are not far fetched. At least some of the characters are lovable in their own way, and their motives (at least most of them) are understandable. Unlike a lot of shows about broken people who make bad decisions, say a few kind/charming words then make worse decisions, Ringer is about overcoming your past. It's also a rubix cube. Characters say or do things that seem to define them, but when the cube turns, more pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
For Bridget, becoming someone new is relatively easy, since that person is a deep part of her the way twins are. However, entering into Shibhon's life requires some finesse and off the cuff lying to save face. Trying to explain things that Bridget's not had full disclosure on is tricky, but the writers and Sarah Michelle Gellar do a good job of balancing the line between realistic and entertaining. Because Bridget is the solo witness in a trial, keeping her identity secret is crucial to her survival.
Both sisters benefit from this transaction of Bridget's portrayal, even if one of them is not present for many of the moments. The real Shibhon, while she may at one point have been sweet and kindhearted, has been extremely secretive and leads something of a double life without her twin wrapped up in the mix. This gives her an opportunity, a door by which to pass through in order to escape some of the walls she's backed herself into.
Unlike Revenge where every episode is another attempt to take a stab at a past ruined by the rich and a failing corporation, Ringer provides us with something more. While Bridget's first priority is to become her new life, she is not willing to completely absorb Shibhon's life as is. Bridget has had her share of rough times, and she has done things she's regretted that have irreperably damaged her relationship with her sister. She also views Shibhon's choices as questionable considering the hand she was dealt.
While Bridget made mistakes in the past, many of the ones she made she didn't do out of malice. In part she begins repairing damage that Shibhon has done to her current life while attempting to make amends to her sister by being the better version of herself. Of either of them. However, perhaps there is reason to believe that Shibhon has not been completely out of line.
The show does a good job of keeping the audience on its toes. At times, it's unclear which twin is which, but the real one always gives herself away. There is also a medium sized cast that works each end to make sure that the over all story arc keeps coming back to the same place. While the show does a good job of answering the questions the audience asks itself while watching, it also does a good job of not overwhelming its viewers by creating too many questions.
Towards the end of the first season, the entire plot kind of caves in on itself. The drama becomes more of a night time soap opera than ever. Characters become incestuous in unbelievable ways. One character is replaced by an almost identical one, and we're not talking twins. It's hard to tell if any of the characters are telling the truth, if people will die, if those who've disappeared are dead, and who to point fingers of blame at. It could be that the writers found out the show wasn't renewed for a second season.
Don't get me wrong, I was still hooked on watching the show, but the characters peaked, and everyone was just sort of pooling into one awful character. No one ended up being blameless. Also, one of the characters, I really enjoyed, so I watched it 'til the end just for him.
Ringer is superior to many shows on tv—at first. One season, full of turns and tricks provides mystery and entertainment for awhile. Its momentum and creativity start deteriorating halfway through, and although it temporarily sees bursts of interesting moments, the latter half of the season lacks the originality and curiosity the first half provided. I still think it's worth watching, because it's both interesting and provides characters that require more than one look.