Remember when the Olsen twins occupied a very, very different space in pop culture? Like, the polar opposite space from where they are now? No? We don't blame you. In 2016, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are aloof style icons and respected fashion designers. In the era of celebrity overexposure, the almost-30-year-old Row cofounders do such a good job of maintaining an enviable air of bourgeois mystery that they posted their first-ever selfie just last month. Snapchat? Never. Full House reboot on Netflix? No thanks.
But in the '90s, Mary-Kate and Ashley were pint-sized American sweethearts and the twin queens of must-see TV (Full House, The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley) and movies (It Takes Two, Passport to Paris). Toward the tail end of their tenure as tween icons — somewhere between 2000's direct-to-video feature Our Lips Are Sealed and 2004's "edgier" New York Minute — they made a particularly forgettable sitcom called So Little Time.
The Olsens' venture into the world of ABC Family sitcoms premiered 15 years ago today. It lasted just one season, a 26-episode run that spanned from 2001 to 2002. The 14-year-old twins played — you guessed it — 14-year-old twins. In proper archetypical-casting form, Ashley played the more extroverted diva sister, Chloe, while MK played the more introverted artsy one, Riley. Naturally, they lived in a mansion in Malibu. But in order to broadly appeal to the imperfect American youth, they had to have some relatable, gritty circumstances to contend with. So the parents they lived with in their mansion were divorced — but still besties, obviously, because things couldn't get too dark.
Like most everything documenting the lives of 14-year-old girls, So Little Time actually captures an odd and somewhat fascinating transitional period. At this point in their careers, MK & Ash had outgrown their cute-as-a-button child-star quality without developing the acting skills to convince an audience that they actually wanted to be there. In other words, actors their age have to be A. talented, or B. so distractingly cute that lack of talent is irrelevant. At 14, the Olsens were neither.
But they made it work — sort of. How? By playing their characters as themselves: eye-rolling teenagers who were alternately insecure and too cool to be there. And god, were they cool. Especially in that early-2000s kind of way — the style, the attitude, all of it. As such, So Little Time is kind of a glorious time capsule back into the super-cool (but difficult!) life of a teenage girl in 2001. A decade and a half later, here are some highlights to appreciate.
They mastered the "goth" look that most rebellious tweens could only dream of.
They excelled at applying lip gloss with attitude.
They agonized over their crushes not even acknowledging their existence, whilst rocking chunky highlights.
They had the coolest school supplies, like those Christian Lassen wildlife folders for everyone who had so outgrown Lisa Frank.
They mastered expressions that said, "Ugh how could you do this to me, world?"
And, "Are you serious?"
And "MOM, DAD, WE HATE YOU!"
Thank you for the memories, Mary-Kate and Ashley.