A Brief History of All the Things That Are Just Like Other Things Leading Up to ‘The Double’

The Double, Jesse EisenbergMagnolia Pictures via Everett Collection

A brief history of things that are very much like other things, or at least that have been accused of being so:

1831-42: Nikolai Gogol publishes a several works of fiction, including “The Nose,” “The Overcoat,” and Dead Souls

1846: Fyodor Dostoevsky publishes Dvoynik (in English: The Double), a novel about a timid, awkward guy who meets his confident, assertive lookalike.

1846: Literary critic Konstantin Aksakov accuses Dostoevsky of lifting from the various works of Gogol’s, stating in a review of The Double that “Dostoevsky alters and wholly repeats Gogol’s phrases.”

1985: Director Terry Gilliam releases Brazil, a film about a tremendous corporation.

2002: Writer José Saramago publishes O Homem Duplicado (in English: The Double), a novel about a timid, awkward guy who meets his confident, assertive lookalike.

2006: Richard Ayoade begins starring on the British sitcom The IT Crowd, about the technological department of a tremendous corporation.

2007: Richard Ayoade stars in an unaired pilot for an American version of The IT Crowd, which was very much just a carbon copy of the original.

2007: America becomes aware of Michael Cera.

2009: America becomes aware of Jesse Eisenberg.

2009: America accuses Jesse Eisenberg of being a carbon copy of Michael Cera.

2010: Michael Cera stars in Youth in Revolt, in which he plays two roles: a timid, awkward guy (in keeping with his off-screen image) and a confident, assertive looklalike.

2010: Jesse Eisenberg stars in The Social Network, a film about a tremendous technological corporation. In the film, supporting cast member Armie Hammer plays two roles, though they are essentially the same character.

2011: Director Michael Brandt releases The Double, a film not at all affiliated with Dostoevsky’s novel The Double.

2014: Jake Gyllenhaal stars in enemy Enemy, a film — based on Saramago’s novel The Double — in which he plays two roles: a timid, awkward guy and his confident, assertive lookalike.

2014: Now a director, Richard Ayoade releases The Double, a film — based on Dostoevsky’s novel The Double — about a tremendous corproation and starring Jesse Eisenberg. In the film, Eisenberg plays two roles: a timid, awkward guy (in keeping with his off screen image) and a confident, assertive lookalike. The first Eisenberg grows to hate the second Eisenberg for stealing his shtick.

2014: Some film critics accuse Ayoade of lifting from Gilliam, likening the dystopian aesthetic to that of Brazil

2015 and on: Films, stories, and people will continue to work their way into our lives, earning scorn for their similarities to those that came before, be these similarities the result of theft, homage, simple coincidence, or diluted perception.

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Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.