Where Are They Now: The Private Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

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From child stars to fashion icons, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have accomplished plenty. And it started at an early age.

A really early age.

In 2023, if you search: “Mary Kate and Ashley Now,” you will find very little information, and the things you do find, will be cryptic accounts of “sources close to the twins” — and by the way, the twins who don’t like being called “The Olsen Twins.”

RON GALELLA /GETTY IMAGES

Perhaps this distaste hails from a tired longing, for individuality. The burden surely felt by twins everywhere: the mixed blessing of having “two of you”.

The double-edged sword of never standing alone in this world— of never standing on your own in this world.

Full House: How Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Got Their Starts

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen spent the entirety of their formative years, on the set of Full House (1987-95), pretending to exist only one at a time. There was, after all, only one ‘Michelle Tanner.’

bob saget and olsen baby
Walt Disney Television / Getty Images

While the show developed a cult following, child stars Mary Kate and Ashley have all but vanished.

If you were to check up on Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen now you would quickly realize they took the media hiatus to a whole new level.

The sisters do not wield Instagram accounts, send out thoughts under 160 characters, and they definitely don’t do choreographed dances to sped-up versions of copyrighted songs. The novelty of being envied probably wears off around the 800th You Got It, Dude laugh track.

The desire to be seen too, one would imagine.

Twin Recluses? Very Chic.

The Olsens are seldom “spotted” these days, and when they do make an appearance— the tabloids swarm with headlines that always include a rendition of the words “rare outing.”

Ashley Olsen with wine
Ashley Olsen looking chic at Whole Foods, 2009 / Pinterest

Yet, the disappearance of the Olsen Twins, is not what is confounding…in fact, a fall from the spotlight’s grace is almost a certainty in the case of child stars.

There has undoubtedly always been a sort of hateful interest in the crash and burn of young performers as they ascend into maturity, particularly young women (save for McCauley Culkin.)

There are the obvious, more drastic cases with industry dubbed “child stars”— a term that in and of itself fuels the false narrative that working 8 hours a day with co-stars 40 years your senior is more fun than hanging out with kids your own age.

Child stars like Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes, and Lindsay Lohan: all of whose tempestuous mental health issues (in the wake of stolen childhood) have become easy fodder for low-hitting gossip columns.

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The Olsens Aren’t Like The Other Kids

However, unlike the Olsen Sisters, these stars entered the public eye, at the ages of 10 years old and up; admittedly more realized individuals than a 6-month-old.

While the age gaps are not seemingly vast, the developmental differences that take place in those 9.5 years are astronomical.

These aforementioned tween-idols at least had a chance to gain a semblance of their own distinctive personality—though in the famous cases of Britney Spears and her contemporaries, a jagged career trajectory and a public unraveling that followed, attracted a certain kind of press.

But this was not the case for the Olsen twins.

Despite their intentional, unproblematic, trap-door escape from the spotlight, a kind of muted Beatlemania follows them.

Even now, decades later a curiosity in their private life persists.

Like the J.D. Salingers of child stars, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen possess an undeniable mystique.

The X-Factor of The ‘It’ Girl

Unlike the many celebrities in current culture who feign disdain at the paparazzi they called on themselves—who shirk from the bright flashing lights, running errands in effortless outfits their stylists picked out for them, putting a perfectly manicured hand over their face: please not tonight, guys and a middle finger for good measure so badass !! —The Olsen Twins are not such unfortunates.

Because even when they are, it’s somehow just way cooler than the other tryhards.

kendall jenner thinking she's cool
Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner / Splash News
Justin Bieber flipping the paps off
Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, 2011 / Billboard

For starters: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen almost exclusively wear The Row*.

*Their fashion-house-in-business-ventures-clothing whose distinctively minimalistic designs are a lesson in quiet luxury—not a far cry from the twins themselves.

But before we can really dissect who the Olsen Twins have become we must first look at who they’ve been, and where they’ve come from.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: Who Were They?

Before They Were Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen they were ‘Michelle Tanner.’

Full House Still
Getty Images

Becoming Michelle Tanner

In 1987, at only 6 months old, the Olsen Twins were cast in the role of Michelle: the youngest Tanner sister on the ABC family sitcom, Full House.

Their mother, Jarnette Olsen, was a retired ballerina—a sport and artistic discipline known for the extreme mental and physical demands it makes of the athlete (see: Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan).

Perhaps, this self-restraint was genetic, because, at 6 months old, when Jarnette’s friend was casting a new ABC Sitcom called (you guessed it) Full House, the twins were the only babies who didn’t cry in their “audition” and subsequently landed the role that would change their lives.

At 9 months old, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen began filming, alternating who would play the role of Michelle, in order to comply with child labor laws that set strict limits on how long child actors were allowed to work.

With both girls on set, ABC was able to shoot up to 16 hours between the two of them, instead of 8 hours they would have been limited to with only one of them.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen Babies
ABC / Getty Images

A secret the studio seemed intent to keep as, up until the 8th Season, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were credited as one actor: “Mary Kate Ashley Olsen.”

Casting twins is a common practice in Film and TV and was how twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse got their start in Adam Sandler’s blockbuster Big Daddy (1999).

In fact, the Sprouse twins had such a similar origin story to the Olsen twins the Full House stars took them under their wing. Before signing with Disney, Cole and Dylan Sprouse signed with Mary-Kate and Ashley’s entertainment company Dualstar.

The Uncanny Valley of Sitcoms

For the next 8 years, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen would grow up in an idyllic Victorian home on a picturesque hill in San Francisco with two sisters, two uncles, and an all-american sweetheart dad: a quirky blended family, a full house—almost.

Full House cast photo
Vogue

In stark reality, they grew up with their co-workers, on a set with collapsible walls, on a soundstage in Burbank.

Then again, maybe the truth is somewhere in between.

Long-running sitcoms have always been a staple in TV culture: I Love Lucy, Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family—everyone has *one* that feels like coming home after a long day, and maybe the truth is, there is only so much faking movie magic can do.

Maybe there is an in-between. Perhaps this is the place where the Olsen Twins grew up, in the ambiguous middle.

MaryKate or Ashley Olsen Fullhouse
ABC / Getty Images

In the same vein of “ironic enjoyment” (if you enjoy something ironically, but it’s all you spend your time doing, then eventually it’s not ironic it’s just a preference), I wonder if that same principle does not apply here. At what point does your TV Dad (Bob Savage) who you spend with more than your real dad, become a father figure?

In 1996, after the final season of Fullhouse had aired, Jarnette and Dave Olsen divorced.

Sources close to the twins remarked that the proceedings left the four Olsen siblings “pretty shaken and very unhappy.”

The twins along with older brother James “Trent” Olsen and younger sister Elizabeth, lived with their mother in San Fernando Valley but their father took over the reins of their career transition.

The contrast is stark.

When your off-screen family is being severed in two, and your on-screen family ends every episode in a group hug, is there a time when you lean in a little more?

Is there a moment when it is real? Is there heartbreak when the moment passes?

For actress Sarah Hyland (Haley Dunphy on Modern Family), she’s already crossed over. The 32-year-old took to Instagram to celebrate “all the dads in [her] life”, including Ty Burell (TV Dad, Phil Dunphy) in her Father’s Day post:

Yet, Hyland’s affections are understandable.*

*and in the strange case of Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus’ TV Dad was played by her real-life dad, Billy Ray Cyrus.

When you are young (and vulnerable) with a “real job,” surrounded by adults, who you spend most of your time with, osmosis undoubtedly occurs.

For so many child actors, there is a transference from their ‘real life’ to their ‘work life’.

The soundstage becomes a time capsule of “firsts”. That isn’t always a good thing.

A dichotomy between the inner world and the outer world can spring forth.

“I would never wish my upbringing on anyone…but I wouldn’t take it back for the world.”

– Mary-Kate Olsen

Life After Full House

The Twins launched their company Dualstar Entertainment at just 6 years old.

Shortly after, Full House aired its final season and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen embarked on a variety of business ventures masquerading as “kid content” that would skyrocket the pair to unfathomable stardom.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen Movie
Warner Bros / Everett Collection

Under Dualstar, Mary-Kate and Ashley would solidify their place as teen trendsetters, and perhaps more aptly fashion icons. A moniker the duo earned in the late 90s that even now, as the Phantoms of High Fashion has stuck with them.

Their string of successful direct-to-video movies under their “Mary-Kate and Ashley brand”, only increased their visibility, acting as a kind of Trojan Horse for their product placement.

In the pre-internet age, out-of-home advertising was king, and the Olsen twins had no competitors for the crown.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen It Takes Two
 AF Archive / Alamy

From To Grandmother’s House We Go (1992), to It Takes Two, to The Challenge (2003)–the Olsen’s co-starred in a staggering total of 50 films, including their TV Series So Little Time (2001).

These films followed a similar narrative structure, with Ashley playing the more Type-A twin and Mary-Kate playing her edgy counterpart.

MaryKate and Ashley in the So Little Time
Warner Bros / Everett Collection

However, their film division was only the beginning. The real revenue-generator of their business was their merchandise.

From 6-Month-Old Stand-Ins to 17-Year-Old Billionaires

MaryKate and Ashley as kids
Steve Granitz / WireImage

Before there was Kylie Cosmetics, Rare Beauty, and (for the 2000’s kids) Stuff By Duff, there was Mary-Kate and Ashley The Brand.

From cosmetics to furniture—video games, scholastic books, barbie dolls, perfume, and most notably a fashion line at Walmart —the Olsen’s left no precious gemstone unturned.

And of course, everything came in two.

MaryKate and Ashley Fragrances
Mary Kate and Ashley Fragrances / Pinterest

Where Mary-Kate was edgy, citrus, and packaged in blue— Ashley was soft, floral, and packaged in pink.

While the 2010s have seen a skyrocket in the establishment of “personal brands” and the monetization of those brands a-la influencers like Gen-Z pack leader Emma Chamberlain (see: Chamberlain Coffee), Makeup Artist Huda Kattan (see: HUDA Beauty), and all of Kris Jenner’s Children (see: The Complete List of Kardashian-Jenner’s Latest Fashion Ventures), do not be mistaken, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen did it first and did it best.

Dualstar logo
Dualstar Entertainment Group

In 2003, Dualstar was estimated to have a net worth of a staggering $1.3 Billion (about $1.9B today with inflation), at a time before internet advertising. Their reach was frankly astounding.

At 17 years old, Mary-Kate and Ashley had gone from making $2,400 a Full House episode to selling $1 billion in retail merchandise per year.

The X-Factor: What Set Mary Kate and Ashley Apart?

When a pair of 6-month-old babies get paid $6,500 (inflation cost) for sitting in a car seat and somehow spin that gig into gold it’s hard to accept that maybe it’s more than just luck.

Maybe, some people, really are just made different.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen
Carlo Allegri / Getty Images

I’m not sure what the scientific explanation is for what makes an “it” girl.

The “it” factor is just that. Glaringly obvious yet impossible to pin down. There are the people who set the trends and the people who follow, and the Olsen twins have always been the former.

Internal feminism wants to blame the phenomenon of thin, young, and beautiful women. The pretty privilege that accompanies heroin chic doe-eyes and a Miss America smile.

The Olsens have come a long way from the Sequined-Bohemia of the early naughts (Nicole Richie, not so much).

Mary Kate and Ashley
Trent McGinn / Harper’s Bazaar

The Olsen Twins have always been equal parts Kate Moss as they are Disney Princess, only now with a healthy pour of Rick Owens—an eclectic homage that dominates their elusive personas and by extension The Row (their fashion label), in an anti-zeitgeist of the 2020s.

The Kardashians or The Hadid Sisters pale in comparison. There is something entirely unforced and cool about the Olsen Sisters. An un-relatability.

Contemporary girl-world capitalism is hellbent on monetizing distorted relatability (see: Emily Ratajowski’s My Body, Jennifer Lawrence Falling At The Oscars, Bella Hadid’s Crying Carousel)

The Olsen twins teach a masterclass in never letting you in, on never giving you the crash and burn of their contemporaries, and perhaps most impressively…on maintaining a humble distance from their celebrity successors who traffic in complaining about their public figure privilege.

While they were not completely shielded from the rumors and the controversy that comes with “partying” and young celebrity, (see: Mary Kate’s secret relationship with Heath Ledger) they were Da Vinci’s in the graceful art of the side-step; routinely (and politely) declining to speak publicly about their private affairs.

On a press circuit for New York Minute (2004) Oprah Winfrey conducted an interview that did not age well with Oprah prodding the siblings to discuss how their finances were allocated and questioning Mary-Kate about her rumored eating disorder.

Where They Have Been: An Anthology of Scandals and Successes

In 2004, The Olsens made their theatrical debut with their (now cult-classic) film New York Minute.

The film was a higher-budget take on their previous filmography; with Ashley Olsen playing the role of the studious “Jane” and Mary-Kate Olsen playing the role of the carefree “Roxy”.

The girls ditch a day of school in Long Island in favor of a day of fun in New York City—with their cartoonish principal-slash-villain (Eugene Levy) hot on their trail.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen in New York Minute
New York Minute / Warner Bros.
Mary-Kate New York Minute
New York Minute / Warner Bros.

Despite their massive straight-to-video empire, their previous success failed to translate to the big screen, and so too—the Olsens failed to make the notoriously difficult jump from child stars to “real actors.”

Though, how dedicated they were to even wanting to make that leap, is up for debate.

The Multi-Million Dollar Flop

In its opening weekend, NYM only took in $5.9 million (against a $30 million budget), making it the lowest-grossing wide-released film ever, at the time.

Though the Olsen’s fan-base may not have been groomed for their theatrical debut (or more likely, not old enough to visit the theatre) the Olsen’s exeunt from film seemed premature, taking their history into consideration.

Retired at 17

NYM was the last time the twins ever starred on-screen together, effectively retiring from acting at only 17 years old. Retrospectively, perhaps there was an underlying exhaustion that went unsaid; a last-ditch attempt at acting shouldered on New York Minute.

But the release of the film coincided with perhaps the most pivotal turning point in the twins’ careers.

The following month, on June 13th, after 17 years of being restricted by legal technicalities and tied-up trusts, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were turning 18.

The Takeover of Dualstar

In June of 2004, The Olsen Sisters entered legal adulthood and were set to attain full control over Dualstar Entertainment Group on their 18th birthday.

Their primary challenge as co-CEOs was to ensure Dualstar, along with its Olsen-associated merchandise, evolved alongside their growing demographic.

Yet, what did this style evolution really entail? The path forward was not clear-cut.

The Olsen Twins had built their brand empire on a selective version of themselves and at 18, they stood at a crossroads.

There was, for the first time in their careers (inextricably linked with their very real lives)—free will.

After nearly two decades of pandering to a young audience of saccharine tastes, they had the opportunity to become a more fully realized version of themselves.

While The Olsens may have been a similar age to their fans, their idiosyncratic and un-relatable life experiences created an entirely different palette.

There has always been a hankering to believe that celebrities too live lives, “just like us”, and while there are fleeting instances when we catch Kim Kardashian pumping her own gas (brave), we are quickly reminded that Kim Kardashian is also the proud owner of a white, fur wrapped Lamborghini—a car that at the very least, should come with a complimentary Tide to-go stick.

Kim Kardashian Gas Station
Backgrid

All this to say, even though the 17-year-old billionaires reportedly had a modest $ 250-month allowance, these cutbacks could only simulate a similarity in common ground with their fans (consumers) for so long.

For the Olsens—crossing the threshold of adulthood—the stakes were relatively high.

They chose to renew their image from the “Wholesome Olsens” into not necessarily the “wild child” persona oft-touted by child stars set loose, but rather they chose to, for lack of a better term—to keep it real, whatever that meant to them, whenever.

They had refined tastes and followed them. Later, they would come to be celebrated for their pursuits too.

The Myth of The Child Star

The cold fact is, all child stars face a kind of abuse; vandalism of innocence, a restriction of free will—standing somewhere on the sliding spectrum in between Shirley Temple and The Jonas Brothers.

These extreme conditions can create a bipolar reality for the child. A behind-closed-doors narrative. A jump-spring suppression, that shoots kids out of the cannon, landing on their feet in abrupt “wild child” revolt. (See: TMZ, Miley Cyrus Leaked Video: Smoking A Bong, days after her 18th birthday).

Disney is synonymous with the ultimate “child star”. Signing virgin talent they have scourged from the recesses of bleak Hollywood transplant holes, and burying them under lock-and-key contracts, until they turn the *magic age* of 18.

What happens after that, isn’t their problem.

By the time Demi Lovato landed her first stint in rehab for anorexia, Disney already moved on to Zendaya and Bella Thorne, whose replacement show Shake It Up would usher in a new era of Disney Channel Stars.

Disney’s hush-hush “morality clause” is the crowning jewel of its star image curation. Among many other restrictions, the talent isn’t allowed to swear, drink, smoke, or attract any media attention that isn’t totally neutral, if not bland.

The reality is, as brilliantly put by Rita Mae Brown, “the reward for conformity is everyone likes you, except yourself”.

So what can the judgemental world expect from these overexposed, overworked, young adults, who hate themselves?

What behavior would be deemed appropriate? What coping mechanism would be acceptable?

On the set of The Wizard of Oz, 16-year-old Judy Garland’s diet famously consisted of chicken soup, black coffee, and 80 cigarettes a day. 45 years later, these indoctrinated attitudes move behind closed doors.

While Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen mothered the trend of walking around New York City with oversized sunglasses, and holding giant Starbucks coffee cups— the inception of their admitted caffeine addiction, hailed back a decade, with Mary Kate acknowledging she started drinking coffee at the age of 10.

In the dubious case of cigarettes, in an interview at 17 years old, the twins dispelled rumors that they smoked.

“We don’t [smoke], but I’m not one to judge”

– Mary Kate

Cut To: The 2005 Met Gala Smoking Scandal (Months Later)

Mary-Kate Smoking in NYC
GC Images

“Mary-Kate Olsen was so desperate for a cigarette, she broke New York City’s smoking ban by lighting up in the ladies’ toilet at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s Costume Institute Gala on Monday night.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen on the red carpet
Evan Agostini / Getty Images

A witness says: “Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen get up in the middle of dinner and walk in, and Mary-Kate is saying she wants a cigarette. She then proceeds to chain smoke in the bathroom of the Metropolitan Museum!

A spokesperson for the museum was shocked to hear about guests smoking in the prestigious institution: “We don’t allow smoking. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t spot it. There was no security in the bathrooms. I think that’s something the museum will have to consider next year.”

– May 8th 2005, Irish Examiner

While this secret history is by no means sinister it’s hard to believe on her 18th birthday at the stroke of midnight the pure-lunged princess turned into a chain smoker.

And yet, The Olsen twins have a certain magic about them.

When Selena Gomez smokes it’s “triggering” to her fans, when the Olsen Twins smoke it’s celebrated.

Do their bad habits inspire headlines like Why Am I So Soothed By Photos of The Olsen Twins Smoking?

Beatlemania follows them. They can do no wrong. They cannot miss…perhaps, its because they’re not trying to score more points.

The 2017 MET Gala went viral for an unconventional reason:

All the celebrities broke bad in the girl’s bathroom.

The internet lost their minds over the bizarre celebrity crossovers that *gave* an alternate universe: Dakota Johnson lighting up on Rita Ora’s story! Brie Larson sparks up behind P. Diddy while Paris Jackson leans on ASAP Rocky’s shoulders to sneak in Kylie Jenner’s Selfie! Rihanna is somewhere in the building! Pandemonium!

For one night only all the celebrities corseted in couture (celebrities who historically terrorize talk shows with pick-me tales of how they were bullied in high school) got to feel like the cool kids, hacking darts.

But as usual, the Olsen Twins did it first. Because they were the kids smoking behind the school for real, the kids who had the lighter, who you asked to bum a smoke from to try to impress, giving yourself away choking on what’s obviously the second drag of your life, because the Olsen’s don’t put on airs like the other kids. They don’t have to.

Above all else, trendsetting is perhaps their true vocation.

Looking back on their body of work and other business ventures, they were tycoons at selling their taste.

In 2005 the duo was slated to attend New York University, in the fall, but soon dropped out.

Ultimately, NYU did not prove to be a challenging or pragmatic education for teen business moguls.

Sparing no time, they voyaged into the elite world of fashion, with the launch of their luxury line The Row (2005)

The Row

The Row began as a self-proclaimed personal challenge.

Ashley Olsen was determined to design the perfect T-shirt, with Mary Kate by her side. In the year-and-a-half-long process, the Olsens got a first-hand education in design.

“It was learning about production and manufacturing, one piece at a time”.

– Ashley Olsen

The t-shirt was the founding father of their seven-piece collection that was picked up by fashion industry titan Barney’s New York (RIP).

Barney’s, famous for discovering designers and introducing fashion brands like Rick Ownes, Proenza Schouler, Christian Louboutin, and Comme des Garçons—bought The Row’s first complete line, solidifying The Olsen’s pedigree as promising fashion designers.

The Public Ventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

2006

The Olsen became the face of Badgley Mischka with ad campaigns appearing in Vogue, Elle, InStyle, and Vanity Fair.

2007

They founded their affordable fashion line Elizabeth and James (named after their siblings James and Elizabeth Olsen) and in the vein of their Wal-Mart collaboration days: designed Olsenboye, a collection for JCPenney

2008

Influence is released. book which features several rare interviews with leading names in the industry like Chanel Designer Karl Lagerfeld and Celebrity Photographer Terry Richardson, as the Olsen’s aim to chronicle their influence on fashion.

2009

At the young age of 23, the Olsen twins were the youngest designers ever invited to join the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA).

“Welcome to the elite special High Order of Fashion. You are one of us now,”

– CFDA president Diane Von Furstenberg, 2009

2011

They became the creative directors of the 100-year-old European Sneaker Company Superga, spearheading their design collaborations.

But as their achievements piled up, and their credibility as real designers became consecrated, the twins faded out, no longer needing to stand alongside their work like primed showgirls, in order to earn publicity, visibility, and respect.

“We didn’t want to be in front of it, we didn’t necessarily even want to let people know it was us. It was really about the product, to the point where we were like: Who could we get to front this so that we don’t have to?”

– Ashley Olsen on The Row

As The Row evolved from a glorified t-shirt company into a luxury fashion house, a dual-evolution occurred: a maturity in both the art and the artists.

Their designs spoke for themselves and they spoke through their designs. The Row became a divine mouthpiece. The trumpet for a one-way conversation, a healing improvisation, to atone for a childhood recited.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen Fashion Week for Mercedes Benz
Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

In a masterful, subtle, exeunt from superfluous red carpet appearances and ever-invasive interviews, Mary Kate and Ashley relegated themselves to the ranks of High Fashion’s Willy Wonka; pulling the strings masterfully, away from the world, inside the sacred confines, of their unpolluted chocolate factory. A paradise found—this was The Row.

“We just wanted to function more behind the scenes.”

– Ashley Olsen

Perhaps they saw the technological tidal wave coming, the mass exodus from tangible art, the personal spotlights that would in the next decade— crop up all over the world in squares, on iPhones, in covetous hands doom-scrolling to be influenced—they have always had a genius to see what’s coming, though their strange luck perhaps never made it necessary.

In 2021, in the wake of a worldwide pandemic, The Row—a niche, luxury, minimalist, womenswear line— was turning around $100 million in profit.

The world felt done for.

Hell was freezing over twice–and apparently for fashion aficionado’s everywhere, there’s no better time to buy a $6,000 cashmere coat to keep you warm.

Where They Are Now: The Romantic Lives of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen

If you’re looking for Ashley Olsen, you can find her in the woods, doubling fisting wine and a machete.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen Now
@knuckles.eisner / instagram

In a rare first-hand peek into their personal lives as photographed by her husband, artist Louis Eisner, the internet was electrified by Ashley Olsen’s forever, cool.

The “story” was picked up by several prominent publications, doubling down on her cult-celebrity status. Confirming that yes, Ashley Olsen can blow her nose with a handkerchief and Kleenex would see their stock plummet.

Eisner’s posting of Olsen resulted in a resurgence of tabloid-driven deep dives into the pair’s relationship.

The researched origin story was entirely speculative, with journalists guessing the couple got together around 2017.

In the 6 years since the pair have only had a handful of public appearances.

At 37 years old, you can find Mary-Kate in Zoom Divorce Court.

In 2020, Mary-Kate Olsen dissolved her then-9-year relationship with her husband Olivier Sarkozy*.

*French-Banker-slash-half-brother-of-former-President-of-France-Nicolas Sarkozy

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen Now
Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier Sarkozy’s divorce hearing via court Zoom

The news of their not-so-conscious uncoupling came as the pandemic shut down the world that spring.

Olsen filed for divorce while Sarkovsky moved his ex-wife into their shared home in Bridgehampton, New York.

At the same time, Sarkovsky declined to renew the lease on their $29,000 p/ month Gramercy apartment rental, where Olsen was living at the time.

While her initial petition for an emergency settlement had been declined by a New York Judge, in 2021 Olsen ended her marriage with the click of an “end call” button.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen Now

It was a breakneck end to a relationship that received mixed (albeit uninvited) reviews from its outset.

Between the couple’s 18-year age difference and 1.1-foot height difference, these ambiguously colored flags sparked speculation.

However, the hallmark of Mary-Kate’s relationship, true to form, was the swank with which she got hitched. In a ceremony that has otherwise zero coverage*, it was confirmed guests were greeted by a bowl of cigarettes at Mary-Kate’s wedding, the story was picked up by Vanity Fair. Twice.

*Not a single photo of the ceremony floats around the internet, as all guests were required to turn in their phones for the private event, leaving us all to forever speculate just how iconic her bridal look certainly was.

Any other insight into the Olsen’s private lives is often subject to scrutiny from ultra-zoomed-in iPhone candids and other forms of eerily aesthetic paparazzi that has become their calling card.

MaryKate and Ashley Olsen Now
TheImageDirect.com

When this photo surfaced of the twins celebrating their 33rd birthday, the simple, dollar-store, “Birthday Girl” headband was mass-reproduced by retailers and sold out on Amazon shortly after.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The truth is Olsen’s hail from a time of Pop Culture Americana long gone, but hopefully not dead.

We are undoubtedly in the era of Nepo-Babies. A buzzword that while exhausted, is far more exhausting because of just how true and founded it is.

The Idol: A Case Study

The Idol is HBO’s latest display, of how ironic it is, to make a sincere statement that is more parts trite than radical.

As “Jocelyn”—The Idol’s empty take on Britney Spears—Lily Rose Depp sways more than she acts; never having less than 87% of her body exposed, relying on sanpaku eyes to sell the fun in bored sex and cocaine-fuelled exploits. It’s all a lot of nothing from Johnny Depp’s daughter in collaboration with HBO (which is slowly becoming the Ottoman Empire of TV Networks).

As a case study, The Idol fails not because of what it is trying to say: that it’s hard to be a child star (which, in short, is the same thing I’ve been saying this whole f*cking article), but because of who it’s using to say it.

As Game of Thrones has demonstrated, gratuitous sex scenes don’t get shows canceled, but a wimpy story trajectory does.

What makes the case of Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes, and Lindsay Lohan heartbreaking, is the same thing that makes Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s triumphant.

Perhaps in this life, you’re either the star or the critic, and perhaps it is fated that the grass will forever look greener on the other side.

In a way, we are all shacked up in our own versions of Victorian houses on San Francisco hillsides—only there are no cameras rolling. Our first kisses aren’t scripted, we don’t have a “wardrobe” picking out the clothes we’ll wear for the years to come, and the bedroom walls we grew up with don’t come down at curtain.

For all intents and purposes, the case of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen is the antithesis of crash and burn, in its own way it’s miraculous, and maybe this is why over three decades later, still afloat on a life raft of their own making, they continue to cull such intrigue.

Like the cunning critics we are, somewhere in our bones, we know they dodged a billion bullets—that “behind the scenes” is a euphemism for the sinister nature of the burden of the dream, that the Amanda Bynes’ of the world make all too much sense and in reality, The Olsen’s are the true outliers.

How did they manage?

I have 10,000 theories, but if I had to pick just one, I’d venture it’s glaringly obvious.

Bruce Weber / Vogue

The thing that condemned them is the same that saved them: because there were two of them.

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