ByEleanor Tremeer, writer at
MP staff. I talk about Star Wars a lot. Sometimes I'm paid for it. More ramblings on Twitter @ExtraTremeerial
Eleanor Tremeer

What's that awesome show you keep hearing about, but you just haven't got around to watching yet? Orphan Black has taken the world by storm: with its darkly glossy sci fi aesthetic, and an incredibly talented cast, there's nothing not to love about this show. And so everyone keeps telling you. But you just don't have the time! So here's some reasons why you NEED to get watching.

Naturally, there are spoilers ahead, but I'll keep them to a minimum.

Why you need to watch

  • Acting: seriously, it's amazing. Tatiana Maslany plays a small army of characters, differentiating between each of them with finesse. Of course, changes in hair and wardrobe help, but each clone (the spoiler everyone knows) moves, speaks, and even breathes differently. From first glance you can tell who Maslany is playing, even when the clones are impersonating one another (which happens more often than you might think). But this isn't (entirely) a one woman show - Maslany is joined by a fabulous host of co-stars, all of whom are ridiculously talented. There really is no weak link in the chain.

  • Modern Frankenstein: of all the sci fi greats, Frankenstein is definitely the one most emulated in Orphan Black. The classic story of man playing God is taken, blown up, and placed into a modern day context that blends ideas of technology and existentialism. Not to mention gender. In a world where cloning is entirely possible, we may very well see these events play out in the not-so-distant future. And just as Frankenstein's creation pursued him to the bitter end, so Maslany's clones seek answers and justice for their creation and manipulation.
Finding herself
Finding herself
  • A whirlwind plot: seriously. At the end of each episode you suddenly remember to breathe, though you didn't notice you'd been holding your breath for the last few minutes. It's so intense. The first season is structured a bit like a murder mystery investigation, following crimes back to clone conspiracies. The second season plunges right into the matter at heart, revealing the institute that created the clones, hinting why, and holding the proverbial gun to each character's head every episode. Season 3 takes us even further into the mire, with every character entangled in a plot that just won't cut them a break. It's intense, and it's fantastic.

  • Character development: shows that have intricate plots often forget the people that drive them, but this is not something that Orphan Black suffers from. Each character is well rounded and interesting, and they have fantastic arcs. Don't trust your first impressions - even if someone seems villainous they may really have a heart of gold, if they seem sympathetic they could have been a puppet master all along. We really get to see each character grow and change, healing and hurting and dealing with all the consequences in between. Just make sure you have your tissues ready!

  • Black sense of humour: it's not all tension and gore and conspiracies - there is definitely comic relief and laugh out loud moments. Felix is the character that provides the most humour with his sharp wit, though Helena has her share of funny lines, and the situations Allison gets into can be pretty hilarious.
Also, her fashion choices are excellent.
Also, her fashion choices are excellent.

So what do you need to know?

First, trust no-one. No-one is really what they seem, few people are as dead as they seem, and everyone is embroiled somehow in the great conspiracy of how and why the clones were created. And speaking of conspiracies, you might want to keep your brain turned on.

Orphan Black is not exactly relaxing viewing, and with excellent continuity there are plenty of plot hints to pick up if you're watching closely. Not to mention the separate agencies and alliances and... It can get confusing. In fact, the show's one flaw is that the plot gets a little too complex at times, and there are too many similar groups of people to keep track of (Dyad and Topside and Project Castor and Neolutionists and Proletheans... and that's just the ones I remember!)

Oh, and don't be squeamish. The show doesn't overload on the gore, but it certainly has its moments. Think eye gouging, and some light torture, and very creative uses of glue guns.

Trust me, it works.

So what are you waiting for? Binge watching is definitely something that suits this show: that's one of the only ways to keep track of the plot. Just make sure you don't get sucked into the complex web of conspiracy. You may never find your way back out!


Which clone is your favourite?


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