Must See Viewing: Orphan Black

Exciting news Clone Club! BBC America has renewed Orphan Black for a fourth season.
For any of you that have seen this show there is no shame to admit you’re victory dancing right now…


For any of you that have yet to see this show, don’t despair, just be well aware that when you start watching it, you can say goodbye to your social life for a week or so as you smash through the first two seasons. I’m speaking from experience here people – having just caught up to Season 3, I’m 1) gutted that I know cannot binge watch this series and 2) kind of happy that I can have my life back… but not really.

These people know what I’m talking about.

At this point, I’ve annoyed my friends and colleagues so much by talking about Orphan Black, it’s high-time I raved about this brilliant series online.

Like with most television, I’m jumping on the bandwagon a bit late.
And like with most television, someone told me to watch it about two years ago and I added it to my ever-growing list of “THINGS I NEED TO WATCH”.

I will admit, I’ve been a little disheartened by film at the moment, which seems to be 30% awful, 50% meh and 20% amazing.

bed movies

Earlier this year, I was sucker punched by a two week period filled with Fifty Shades of Grey, Jupiter Ascending and Project Almanac. Yes, film is a business, and I get that it needs to be profitable, but lately it’s been upsetting to see just how much the dollar sign is driving this creative medium.

While there have still been gems so far this year (and with Sydney Film Festival coming up, I’m preparing myself for even more) I’ve been increasingly turning to television and books for stories that really wow me. The latest of which is Orphan Black.

Maslany plays multiple characters often in the same scene.

Maslany plays multiple characters often in the same scene.

A Canadian series by BBC America, it’s about a woman who finds out she’s one of an unknown number of human clones, illegally created in the 1980s. Rather than crazy, out-of-this-world sci-fi, it’s dramatic, thrilling and packs a feminist punch, as these women struggle to claim ownership over their life when so many organisations, whether they’re run by scientists, governments or religious fanatics, believe they have the right to lay claim to them. One of the shows creators Graeme Manson told the New York Times in this fantastic article: “It’s so thematically connected to feminist issues. Who owns you, who owns your body, your biology? Who controls reproduction?”

At the heart of it all are a bunch of characters you get way too emotionally invested in for a fictional show, and even more unbelievable? They’re all played BY THE ONE PERSON. Tatiana Maslany. Aka one of the most phenomenal actresses out there right now, considering she makes each of these clones fully formed, separate characters – so much so, you often forget only one actor is playing them. It’s understandably exhausting work, with some days stretching out to 17 hours long.

Technical achievements aside (she plays multiple characters often in the same scene – see here if you’ve seen Season One), Orphan Black is also a fine example of writers who have crafted unique, complex and compelling female characters for our scenes. From the punk girl with a huge heart Sarah, to the abused childlike killer Helena, to anxious soccer mum Alison and lovable genius Cosima – and that’s just to name a few.

Additionally, these are women who don’t survive because they have a superpower, or can break out some martial arts moves. They get by on their tenacity, their intelligence, their wit. And Orphan Black remains proof that you can have a successful series driven by female characters, who don’t need to get their kit off or be dressed in tight leather or spandex to pull in viewers. As tumblr page hershotonher notes (via Jezebel):

not only does orphan black eat the bechdel test for breakfast lunch and dinner but it abysmally fails the reverse bechdel test

there are literally like three instances in the entire series where two men speak to each other about something other than a woman

what more reason do you need to watch this fucking show

Orphan-Black-S2Props to creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett and the raft of brilliant writers on this series, who also slam you with enough twists and turns that you’re never quite sure who to trust.

Yes, television is showering us with too many fantastic shows to keep up with, but if you’re not in Clone Club already, add this one to your list. 

It is one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking and addictive series out there.