I’m a twin, so I love seeing representations of twins and twinships on screen and in literature. Sometimes the writers do a great job, other times I wonder if they ever spoke to a set of twins in their life. Futurama, the classic animated science fiction sitcom set in the 31st century, falls into the former category with their season two episode “The Lesser of Two Evils,” in which Bender meets his match Flexo.
Which One Are You?
The origins of the good twin/evil twin dates as far back as human history can go; it is especially common in ancient mythology. However, the earliest I could find of it in popular horror is with Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “William Wilson” (1839). This dichotomy persists in books like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Other by Tom Tyron, along with various films including Alone (2007) and Us (2019). Simply put, the good twin/evil twin trope focuses less on the actual biology of twins and more on what our individual selves are capable of. When horror movies have a good twin and an evil twin, the pair always have the same elements: they are the same sex and gender, they are physically identical, one is extremely good while the other is extremely evil. And most often, only one can make it out alive.
3370318 versus 2716057
Then we have Futurama doing what they do best and satirizing this twin trope. In “The Lesser of Two Evils,” Fry, Leela and Bender take a tour of a 20th century museum of New York City. During their excursion, they run over Flexo, a Bending Unit nearly identical to Bender in appearances and mannerisms (though Flexo can be distinguished with his stylish goatee). The robots quickly become friends and relish all they have in common: making others miserable, drinking, going to the robot strip club. It’s a robotic Parent Trap. But Fry, jealous of Bender’s new relationship, is adamant in proving that somehow Flexo is the “evil Bender.” When Professor Farnsworth assigns them to guard a crown for an upcoming Miss Universe pageant, Fry believes Flexo is going to steal the crown. However, at the end of the episode, we see that it is actually Bender who did the dirty deed, making him the evil Bender (but are we really surprised?)
This episode of Futurama is funny and smart and ridiculous. It is also not the last we see of Flexo; he makes at least three more appearances in later seasons and the straight-to-DVD-film Into the Wild Green Yonder. It’s a quick run of 25 minutes, but the show as a whole is so wonderful you might as well just watch it all.(4.5 / 5)