Having an evil twin can be a drag. They run around causing mischief and often trying to steal their innocent twin’s identity. Thankfully for us, when it comes to the realm of fiction, it's easy to tell the good twin apart from the evil one: by their hair. Here are five famous (and unfortunate) characters that had to deal with a brunette evil twin.
1. Samantha from Bewitched
Sixties television loved using the brunette evil twin trope. For those who remember Bewitched, Samantha was the beloved blonde housewife who also doubled as a witch with magical powers. With just a twitch of her nose, Samantha could wiggle her way out of any troublesome situation. She also had an evil "twin" in her cousin, Serena. Elizabeth Montgomery donned a black, cropped wig while playing Serena. The evil witch also sported a beauty mark on her cheek. During Bewitched’s eight-year run, Serena caused all sorts of trouble with her flirtatious antics.
2. Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie
Like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie created an evil twin for its main character. To make things doubly confusing, Jeannie’s evil, brunette counterpart was also named Jeannie. Like most evil twins, the brunette Jeannie tried to steal the identity of her blonde sister and caused all sorts of problems while trying to impersonate her.
When Sidney Sheldon first created the show, he wanted to cast Jeannie as a brunette to avoid confusion with Samantha from Bewitched. However, he could not find an actress to portray Jeannie as he had envisioned her, so he was forced to cast the blonde Barbara Eden as his lead. Jeannie’s brunette evil twin was likely created to at least partially satisfy Sheldon’s initial wishes for a raven-haired Jeannie.
3. Ginger from Gilligan’s Island
In the Gilligan’s Island episode “All About Eva," a brunette comes to the island ... and looks suspiciously like Ginger. When the dark-haired Eva meets the gang, everyone befriends her and tries to change her appearance to make her resemble Ginger even more. By the end of the episode, Eva fulfills her role as an evil twin by leaving the island and taking Ginger’s identity.
4. Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch
In the 1990s short-lived animated version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina had a brunette evil twin named Damina (who was actually her cousin). While they looked exactly alike, Cousin Damina was a little more innocent than most evil twins and chose not to steal Sabrina’s identity. However, since the show lasted only 65 episodes, who knows what kind of trouble Damina could have caused had it been more successful?
5. Ariel from The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid contains probably the best-known example of the evil brunette twin trope. In the popular Disney movie, Ariel is a mermaid who falls in love with a human. Against her father’s wishes, Ariel makes a deal with the evil Ursula to grow legs and meet the handsome Prince Eric—if she gives up her voice. Ariel can only gain her voice back and stay human if she receives a true love’s kiss from Prince Eric within three days. When Ursula senses that Ariel is close to winning the deal, she transforms into Ariel’s evil brunette twin, Vanessa. Vanessa then uses Ariel’s stolen voice to try and steal Prince Eric from her, but you probably already know how that plan ends.
South Park has been a favorite of comedy fans since its broadcast debut in 1997, keeping a permanent seat in internet culture thanks to a slew of quotable catch phrases and delightfully inflammatory conversation pieces. Nevertheless, there are a few things about Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s iconic series—which made its debut 20 years ago today—that you might not know.
1. SOUTH PARK PIONEERED THE WAVE OF “MATURE” TELEVISION.
Making its debut in the summer of 1997, South Park entered the small screen circuit just in time to reap the benefits of the Federal Communications Commission’s latest venture: the TV Parental Guidelines. The rating system went into effect in January of the same year, distinguishing “child friendly” programming from “adult content.” Upon its premiere on August 13, South Park became the first weekly series to earn the “TV-MA” (or “Mature Audiences”) label.
2. MOST OF THE SERIES’S FEMALE CAST MEMBERS PERFORM UNDER PSEUDONYMS.
The wealth of the male characters on South Park are voiced by creators and writers Parker and Stone, but the animated Colorado town’s female population has long owed its lines to a small number of women behind the scenes. The voice actresses principally responsible for this lot have been, at various points, Mona Marshall, April Stewart, Eliza Schneider, and the late Mary Kay Bergman.
Early on in her South Park tenure, Disney and Hanna-Barbera mainstay Bergman was sometimes credited as Shannen Cassidy in order to avoid fallout from the ideological differences between South Park and her family-friendly material. Similarly, Stewart adopted the alias Gracie Lazar for her South Park work, and Schneider (who left the series in 2003) performed as “Blue Girl,” a handle she also utilized in her music career. Only Marshall has been consistently credited without a pseudonym.
3. SEVERAL CELEBRITIES HAVE PLAYED EASY-TO-MISS CAMEOS.
South Park’s preferred use of celebrity guest stars differs quite a bit from that of its animated sitcom brethren, a community that typically aims to “play up” the notability of a visiting voice actor. With a few exceptions, South Park favors hiding any trace of a star’s contribution, relegating big-name guests to little more than animal sounds. Actors as renowned as George Clooney, Jay Leno, and Henry Winkler have provided dog barks, cat purrs, and monster growls, respectively, for the show.
4. ONE NOTABLE FAN REFUSED AN OFFER TO GUEST STAR.
Of course, not all Hollywood stars are game for this caliber of work. Taking note of South Park’s meteoric rise in popularity at the inception of its second season, Jerry Seinfeld contacted creators Parker and Stone to express interest in voicing a character. They offered the comedian the nonspeaking part of “Turkey No. 2” in their Thanksgiving episode, but Seinfeld declined.
5. SOME FAMOUS NAMES HAVE WRITTEN FOR THE SERIES.
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Today, Bill Hader and Kristen Schaal are TV comedy stars in their own right. However, while Hader was still appearing on Saturday Night Live, he doubled as a consultant writer and then producer for Parker and Stone’s animated series. Similarly, Schaal spent 2007 working as a consultant writer on South Park, before padding her resume with parts on Flight of the Conchords, The Daily Show, and 30 Rock.
6. A SITCOM LEGEND CONTRIBUTED TO TWO EPISODES OF THE SERIES.
It is hardly a surprise to learn that the daringly controversial Parker and Stone hold great reverence for the king of all politically incorrect sitcoms: All in the Family. As such, the pair’s communal dream came true when Norman Lear, the brain behind the groundbreaking series, brought his talents to the South Park set as a writing consultant on the consecutive season 7 episodes “Cancelled” (the 100th episode produced) and “I’m a Little Bit Country.”
7. TREY PARKER APPLIED THE SHOW’S VISUAL STYLE TO A SERIES OF PHILOSOPHICAL SHORTS.
Inheriting a reverence for Buddhism from his father, Randy, Trey Parker went on to discover affection for the philosophies of Zen writer and speaker Alan Watts. In 2007, Parker borrowed the construction paper aesthetic of his popular Comedy Central series to a side project: animated sequences accompanying short segments of Watts’s lectures. Subjects brought to life through Parker’s animation included Watts’ take on music (“Life and Music”), personality extremes (“Prickles and Goo”), and the human race’s relationship with the planet (“Appling”).
8. SOUTH PARK REUNITED A FAMOUS COMIC DUO.
The season four episode “Cherokee Hair Tampons,” which aired in 2000, was notable for employing a pair of guest stars for more than just a few canine grunts. Counterculture comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, who had long since dissolved their big-screen partnership, both lent their voices to the installment. Chong admitted that he and Marin didn’t record their parts together for the episode, but he did credit South Park with reviving their professional camaraderie.
“Cheech did his bit one day and I came in the next day and did my bit,” he told UCTV. “That was the first time we did something together in 20 years so yes, we can give South Park the credit.” Chong’s math might be a little off—his and Marin’s previous proper film collaboration was Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, although they shared credits well into the ’90s—but the spirit of his words sticks. Since the South Park episode, Chong and Marin have joined forces on a handful of film and television projects, including Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie.
9. AN INSECT MUTATION WAS NAMED AFTER A SOUTH PARK CHARACTER.
Throughout the first five seasons of South Park, the primary distinguishing characteristic borne by the character Kenny McCormick was his proclivity to die suddenly in every episode. This unfortunate trait won Kenny the honor of lending his name to a mutation in the genetic structure of the adult fruit fly, discovered in 2002 by scientist Sophie Rutschmann. The gene was found to predict imminent mortality upon contact with an otherwise benign strain of bacteria; this “certain death” mutation was aptly nicknamed “Kenny” after South Park’s ill-fated character.
10. THE TOURETTE SYNDROME ASSOCIATION HAS PRAISED SOUTH PARK’S TREATMENT OF THE DISEASE.
Well aware of South Park’s reputation for insensitivity, the Tourette Syndrome Association approached the series’ season 11 episode, “Le Petit Tourette,” prepared to be gravely offended. The nonprofit organization was unsurprised by South Park’s heavy focus on coprolalia, or involuntary cursing—a symptom disproportionately associated with the disease in popular culture—but went on record as saying that they were impressed by the episode’s treatment of the condition, as well as by its wealth of well-researched information.
Batman has the Batcave, Superman has his Fortress of Solitude, and Scrooge McDuck has his money bin. For 70 years, the maternal uncle of Disney’s Donald Duck has been portrayed as a thrifty—some might say miserly—presence in cartoons and comics, a waterfowl who has such deep affection for his fortune that he enjoys diving into his piles of gold and luxuriating in them.
It’s a rather gross display of money worship, but is it practical? Can anyone, including an anthropomorphic Pekin duck, actually swim in their own money, or would diving headfirst into a pile of metal result only in catastrophic injury?
According to James Kakalios, Ph.D., a professor of physics at the University of Minnesota and author of the recently-released The Physics of Everyday Things as well as 2005’s The Physics of Superheroes, the question really isn’t whether someone could swim in a mass of gold. They could not. It’s more a matter of how badly they’ll be injured in the attempt.
Diving into a gold pile the Scrooge way—hands first, prayer-style, followed by your head—is the most efficient way to begin breaking bones. “Keeping his arms stiff and his elbows rigid, he’s definitely going to break his wrists,” Kakalios tells Mental Floss. “Gold is a granular material like sand, a macroscopic object. You can’t swim through sand or dive into it easily.” Launch yourself off a diving board from 3 or 4 feet up and you will meet a solid surface. Landing with your feet, a far better bet, is unlikely to result in injury—provided you try to bend your knees.
In that sense, diving into gold is not dissimilar from “diving” into a concrete floor. But with gold being granular, it might be possible to break the surface and “swim” if the friction were low enough. “A ball pit is a good example,” Kakalios says. “The balls are lightly packed and have low friction relative to one another. The key is to have objects in front of you move out of the way in order to advance.”
Despite being a fictional character, McDuck hasn’t totally ignored the impossible physics of his feat. His creator, Carl Barks, has written in repeated references over the years to the implausibility of using his money vault as a swimming pool and has depicted the villainous Beagle Boys trio as getting hurt when they tried to emulate the stunt. Scrooge smirked and said there was a “trick” to making the gold dive.
That’s led to one fan theory that McDuck has used his fortune to coat the gold coins in some kind of lubricant that would aid in reducing friction, allowing him to maneuver inside the vault. Ludicrous, yes. But is it possible? “You would need a massive amount of lube to slide your body past the coins with minimal effort,” Kakalios says. “The ball pit is easier because the weight of the elements is low. Gold is a very dense material.” Diving and swimming into it, even with lubricant, might be analogous to trying to shove your hand into a deep bowl of M&Ms, he says. “M&Ms have a low friction coating. Continuing to move is really the problem.”
Presuming McDuck could somehow maneuver himself deeper into the pile, his delicate duck bones would almost surely succumb to the crushing weight of the gold above him. By one estimate, diving under one of his 5-foot-tall gold piles would put 2492 pounds of pressure on his bill.
We'll see if he tips his top hat to any further gold-diving tricks—or if he's in a full-body cast—when Disney XD relaunches DuckTales this summer.