I’m obsessed with The Olsen Twins. There, I said it. It’s on the Internet now. I can’t take it back. Put it on my tombstone. I don’t care. Since I blog about them all the time, this shouldn’t come as a particularly shocking admission. Last week, however, a friend asked me why I loved them so much and I found myself to be briefly stumped. I thought to myself, “Why do I love these tiny elves in couture? What makes me so drawn to them?” It’s an excellent question and it’s one I hope to answer right here, right now. So here we go.
First of all, don’t get it twisted. I am not one of those new Olsen Twin fans. I didn’t just become enamored with them when they stopped eating and wore eight layers of clothing in 90-degree heat to their “NYU classes.” I was into them when they were essentially placenta on Full House. I grew up with them (they’re only two months older than me) and I remember watching their Halloween movie, Double Double Toil & Trouble, a million times when I was seven or eight years old. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was into them at such a young age. Maybe it’s because I had a feeling I was gay and knew they would be down to gossip and buy shit with me. I mean, their whole identity was predicated upon this idea that they were just like us. They received an allowance, did their chores and went to school just like everybody else. I think the only reason why this actually worked is because they clearly had minimal talent. In that way, they were like us. They were these two sorta cute girls saying funny stuff on TV sometimes and filming videos of them at a pool party with their friends. That’s all they were capable of doing and their limitations kept them relatable.
As they got older, they started to release these direct-to-video movies that invariably involved them going to some exotic location and getting into some trouble. My personal favorite was Our Lips Are Sealed, a movie in which the girls move to Australia because they’re in the Witness Protection Program. Other standout films are Winning London, Passport To Paris, and Holiday In The Sun. I don’t know why I liked these movies so much. Watching Mary-Kate and Ashley try to act was always an uncomfortable and terrifying experience but there was something about them that made me want to go back for more.
Then the girls made some missteps. They starred in a shockingly unbearable show called So Little Time and released a movie called New York Minute in which the girls crashed a Simple Plan concert and Dr. Drew played their father. Even though both the TV show and movie tanked, the girls still had more money than Jesus Christ so they were just like “Whatever” and went to NYU.
OK, so this is when things got real. Mary-Kate decided that she didn’t like it when food entered her body anymore so she dropped to a skeletal -50 pounds. She was then sent to rehab in Utah but it didn’t really do anything. She came back still looking insane but people were just like, “Oh Mary-Kate!” and accepted her anorexia. Um, weird. Anyway, they go to NYU and basically start the BoHo trend just from getting their photo taken by the paparazzi. They smartly decide to never return to NYU (can you imagine reading a research paper written by Mary-Kate? “i like art pretty ethereal art Basquiat Lauren Hutton cool bye.”) and decide to start The Row. At this point, Ashley has crafted a separate identity from her sister. She’s the smart serious one who probably smokes a lot of pot and Mary-Kate is the kooky one who wears lots of bracelets and tries to climb walls. You can see the difference in their personalities pretty clearly in these interviews they did separately on Letterman.
Here’s Mary-Kate being a free spirit. She sounds super high and I just can’t get enough. BTW, how can I talk like her? She has the best weird stoner Valley Girl drawl I’ve ever heard!
Here’s Ashley being kind of boring promoting their coffee table book Influence. She can’t get on Letterman’s level and it’s a bummer.
So yeah, they’re super different. Personally, I prefer Mary-Kate. She seems more relaxed and interesting to talk to. Plus, she would have access to the best drugs.
Anyway, they start The Row and it becomes a major success. They’re embraced by the fashion world and earn this kind of impeccable reputation. They also start a ready-to-wear line called Elizabeth & James and a tween clothing line called OlsenBoye. Meanwhile. Mary-Kate gets typecast as a drugged out freak in movies
Throughout their whole career, Mary-Kate and Ashley have been viewed as being these brilliant entrepreneurs. They earned producing credits with Dualstar when they were only nine years old and they started a successful fashion company during a recession. While all of these achievements are remarkable, I think a lot of their success can be attributed to two things: good taste and partnering with the right people. When they were little girls, they did business with Robert Thorne—a man who is largely responsible for bringing their career to the next level with the branding and marketing opportunities—and with The Row, they were able to bankroll a fantastic group of designers to bring their vision to life. No one loves the The Olsens more than me. I just find it bizarre that everyone thinks they did it themselves. I mean, Mary-Kate can barely talk.
(SKIP TO 1:20 AND 4:17 FOR PROOF)
This all sounds confusing, right? I’m supposed to love them so why am I dissing them? Well, I think this ambivalence is part of the reason why I’m so fascinated by them. I love the idea that these twins with little talent could become billionaires and still be relevant today. I also love how crazy they clearly both are. I’m not blaming them. If I were famous at nine months old, I would be a little off too. They just both seem so fragile, like they could shatter at any moment. They don’t understand the world around them because their reality has been so strange. Mary-Kate is so that girl who’s always sort of high and mysterious. You want to hang out with her and just be like, “HOW DO YOU EXIST?” but she’s guarded and won’t let anyone in. Ugh, they are my stoned American dream.