OPINION: The Tragic History of the Olsen Twins
Trigger Warning: child sexual abuse, pedophilia, eating disorders
Editor's note: Content creator Caysie uses a collection of sources and opinions, including her own, to discuss the history of the Olsen twins.
After seeing an onslaught of hate online directed toward the Olsen twins, labelling them ‘cracked out’ or ‘cocaine queens’, it became apparent that not everyone is familiar with the tragic history of the Olsen twins.
Let me break it down.
The Beginnings of Fame - Full House
The fraternal twins got their big break at just nine months old, landing the role of Michelle Tanner in Full House.
But the girls hated it.
John Stamos, co-star, told Entertainment Weekly that the girls cried a lot, and he even tried to get them fired. But it didn't work out that way and the girls remained in the spotlight for many years to come.
In a 2010 interview, Mary-Kate Olsen explained she ‘doesn’t feel connected’ to photographs of herself from that era, and ‘would never wish my upbringing on anyone’.
Like many who are thrust into stardom at a young age, modern examples including Billie Eilish and Millie Bobby Brown, the twins had to deal with pedophilic countdowns until their eighteenth birthday, which would make them ‘legal’ aka able to consent to sex.
Horrifically, a website called ‘Twin Tracker’ was created by an anonymous source. This site was wholly dedicated to tracking the Olsen twins’ age, and linking them to the respective ages of consent in each of the states.
A quick Google-search for ‘Olsen twins 18th birthday’ brings up a 2003 forum thread from user PyroKid.
‘The Official chasebrown.com Mary Kate & Ashley Olson 18th Birthday Countdown Clock.
Mark your calendars! ;)’
Worse yet are the replies…
From user Neptunez: ‘whoah, they’re so hot :lovedup’
RuneyPoo: ‘No talking about my little bunnies, only they can sit on my lap and say OH RUNEY.’
TweaK: ‘OMFG I so hope they do playboy some day’.
How could you be so comfortable saying this on a public platform? Nearly twenty years later, these comments are still floating around the internet.
If there is no escape for the average internet user, imagine what it must be like for the Olsen twins.
Around the time the countdown clocks began, Mary-Kate became the subject of rumours that she had a cocaine addiction.
Her own family poked fun at her in a Saturday Night Live skit, shouting at her to ‘go eat a sandwich!’.
In truth, the star was suffering from anorexia, and had to be committed to a treatment facility after intervention from her therapist and father.
The Death of Heath Ledger
Reportedly Mary-Kate Olsen and Heath Ledger had been ‘casually dating’ for three months prior to his death.
The masseuse that found Ledger unconscious in his apartment reportedly made two phone calls to Mary-Kate using the speed-dial function on Ledger’s phone before calling 9-1-1.
Olsen was subject to investigation into whether the medications Ledger overdosed on were obtained legally, but was eventually found innocent.
Still, to lose your lover, and be accused of having a hand in his death, coupled with a lifetime of previous trauma… To say it couldn’t have been easy is a massive understatement.
Allegations of Sexual Abuse & the Death of Bob Saget
Fans were shocked and upset when neither twin revived the role of Michelle Tanner for the Netflix reboot of Full House, creatively named Fuller House.
Allegations began to emerge on Twitter that this was due to sexual abuse of the twins by former co-star, Bob Saget, who played their father in the original show.
Concerns arose after a 2008 Comedy Roast video saw Bob Saget laugh at jokes painting him as a rapist and child molester, before making jokes of a similar nature of his own.
Another participant states, as part of their ‘roast’ that ‘it’s not true that Bob Saget raped that [redacted] girl in 1990’. Bob Saget appears to react in hysterics, laughing and smacking his knees.
But is it funny? Is it really funny at all?
Jokes at the Olsen twins’ expense seem to be a running theme in this episode.
Uncle Jesse jokes that ‘his entire job consisted of saying look at this, which is what he used to say to Mary-Kate Olsen in her dressing room’.
Another: ‘Bob should be called Blackjack because he started hitting on the Olsens when they were eight and didn’t stop until they were 21’.
I get it, it’s dark humour, but these are real girls, real little girls, and very real and permanent jokes about Saget being a pedophile, and it is certainly unnerving to watch he and his co-stars sit and laugh - what could possibly be funny about it?
However, nothing ever seemed to come of these claims, and the twins themselves never seemed to address them.
When Mark Saget passed, the twins released a statement saying:
‘Bob was the most loving, compassionate and generous man. We are deeply saddened that he is no longer with us but know that he will continue to be by our side to guide us as gracefully as he always has’.
Whether the allegations were true or not, it still must have been traumatising to see someone you loved and trusted joke about yourselves as children... A time in which you have already expressed dissociation and distaste for, in such a cruel and offensive way.
Perhaps more relevant to harsh comments regarding Ashley Olsen’s appearance, this half of the duo has been suffering from Lyme disease for years, and is said to be the reason she retired from the public eye in 2012.
The long-term effects of Lyme disease can include:
- Facial palsy
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
- Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat (Lyme carditis) and more.
So, what’s the take-away? Of course, nobody (not even those in the public eye) should be trolled and bullied for their personal appearance.
Especially not when these atypical features are caused by a lifetime of trauma and illness, and there is absolutely no reason to put these women through more than they have already been through.
Usually, onslaughts of appearance-related trolling relate to a problematic history - see Shane Dawson, or ‘Dream’ post-face reveal - but the fact remains that the Olsen twins have done nothing wrong, nothing to ‘deserve’ this.
You can never know what's going on behind closed doors, even with celebrities.