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Starz puts a new twist on the spy drama — and the parallel universe show.

Counterpart Starz
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

Thirty years ago, our universe split in two. At the start, both halves were identical in every way, though they have since diverged greatly, with the people in them following different paths and events unfolding very differently. But that’s not even the premise of Starz’s Counterpart — it’s just the setting. While the parallel universe idea is important to the show (which is set in present-day Berlin, more or less), it’s more important as a way to set up a series where Howard, a middle-aged schlub (played by the great J.K. Simmons), discovers there’s another Howard, just across the universal border, and that the other version of him is a cutthroat go-getter. Why would this be the case? Well, why are any of us the way we are? It’s Counterpart’s willingness to turn its high-concept premise into a low-key, existential examination of identity that gives it so much weight.

“The show is so good at grounding its drama that somehow the idea of second, parallel reality just seems like a very normal, possible thing.” Allison Keene, Collider

Metacritic score: 75 out of 100

Where to watch: New episodes of Counterpart air Sundays at 10 pm Eastern on Starz. Previous episodes are available on Starz’s streaming platforms.