Meet your newest binge obsession: Orphan Black. If you’ve never heard of it that’s because it’s a Canadian sci-fi show that aired on BBC America Saturdays after Doctor Who this spring with barely any advertising behind it. Now it’s become a sleeper hit and its star, Tatiana Maslany, is a darkhorse for an Emmy nomination.
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, clones. The show’s premise begins with Maslany’s (main) character, Sarah Manning, exiting a train only to see a photocopy of herself jump in front of it. From there on Sarah has entered what the characters call “Clone Club,” trying to make sense of her dopplegangers. In season one she portrays a whopping seven different clones, each one completely unique. They have different accents, different mannerisms, different personalities and are, really, seven different people. The mystery of the whole cloning thing (and the ethics of it) are the meat of the show, but the bones are all Maslany and her incredible performances.
I’m throwing a big old recommendation behind Orphan Black, both for watching and for an Emmy for Maslany. I really think you’ll like it, especially if you like any of the following: Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Veronica Mars (ooh look see it’s not all sci fi!), and Dollhouse. Yeah it’s sci-fi, but it’s accessible and smart. Once you accept that you’re in a world where clones exist (which is the not-too-distant future and a stand-in city for Toronto), you become immersed in that world, and it’s quite a bit of fun. You’ve got a bit of action (someone’s trying to kill them!), a bit of a cop show (one of the clones is a police detective), a lot of intrigue (who cloned them? why?), and some romance. Plus a whole lot of Maslany bickering with herself (in any other context, that would be concerning).
The ten episode season is perfect for the arc of the show and for a nice weekend in. Long enough to keep you entertained but not so many episodes that you’ll need to call in sick for work come Monday. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait till next year for season 2. In the meantime you can desperately try to contact someone with an Emmy ballot and force them to watch the show and then vote for Maslany.