Documentary Review: Three Identical Strangers (Channel 4)

Aired in February 2019, Tim Wardle‘s documentary Three Identical Strangers follows three young men in 1980s New York, who were all adopted as six-month-old infants to separate parents in 1961. One day, they meet each other and find out they’re triplets who were separated at birth. But their quest to find out why turns into a bizarre and sinister mystery.


Combining archival footage, re-enacted scenes, and present-day interviews, I love the way this story played out and how the documentary was edited together. It really got you interested in this story and makes it look fun. And then BAM! The constant revelations about a story that’s almost impossible to believe start rolling in.

The real deal breaker is how poorly the scientific study was put together and that nothing has come off it. It’s said that the study was done as part of an undisclosed scientific “nature versus nurture” twin study, to track the development of genetically identical siblings raised in differing circumstances. But the documentary questions some doubts about the subject and asks whether the scientists were actually looking into how mental illnesses can run in a family.

Now, if they had made some revelatory findings about mental illness and depression and sparked a discussion about these subjects 20/30 years ago so that we would know more about them today, then maybe – just maybe – their actions could have been justifiable. It sparks some really interesting theories that, as it turns out, would have been really beneficial for these triplets to learn about for themselves. But, unfortunately, we may never know if anything comes of them.

Whatever the case, the fact that this study, in the end, seems to have been done for no good cause is inexcusable. It’s such a shocking story and it’s horrible to think that so many more people could be out there with a twin that they don’t know about, but it’s also heartwarming at times to see how these brothers came together and that’s all we can take away from this story.

The documentary is still available to watch on Channel 4’s website and their All 4 app.

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