The story goes that BBC America were sitting quietly in their little building when suddenly, Graeme Manson (FlashPoint) and John Fawcett (Rookie Blue, Heartland, Lost Girl, Queer as Folk, Xena: Warrior Princess, and many many more) burst through their doors holding aloft the script for a show they’d been working ten glorious years on. They put it down on the table in front of The Big Cheese and they said “This is what we want to show to the world.”
OK, maybe I made most of that up.
The real story goes that BBC America needed a show to air after Doctor Who on their channel on Friday evenings at 9pm. Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, who had indeed been working for ten long years on their precious new gem, got their chance for their show to be broadcasted.
(Now, before I go into the general overview of the series, I must warn you that there is a lot to take in. So stay focused!)
‘Orphan Black’ is the story of Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), a rough street-wise hustler from Brixton, who arrives in a city of no name (the show runners have described it as a city akin to Gotham) somewhere in Canada. Upon arriving at the train station, she sees a woman who looks exactly like her kill herself. Desperate for money, Sarah robs the body and assumes this strange woman’s identity, if only until she can get the large amount of cash she has stowed away in a savings account. Beth – the woman who killed herself – however, isn’t the only one who looks exactly like Sarah. In fact, there’s more. A lot more.
The series introduces us to the wondrous talent of Tatiana Maslany, Canadian actress who plays not just two, but a total of seven different characters on screen, sometimes at the same time! Each character has her own distinct personality, despite them being clones of each other. Each character has her own interests, struggles, romantic inclinations. Each character is beautifully unique in her own way.
We’re also introduced to the beautiful Evelyne Brochu, who plays French scientist-turned-love interest Delphine Beroud (or is it Cormier? I don’t know, watch the show!) who ends up helping the clones; the talented Jordan Gavaris who portrays gay drug dealer Felix Dawkins; Matt Frewer, who joins the cast around episode 6 as the genius Doctor Aldous Leekie (a nod towards Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, right there); and Dylan Bruce, playing Afghanistan veteran Paul, who has unknown blood on his name.
The show brings up the moral dilemma behind human cloning – Should we? Shouldn’t we? What are the consequences? – and also possesses the ever popular nature versus nurture question – Are we born that way, or do our surroundings make us the way we are? It also introduces the concept of making a family rather than being born with one, and the very real issue of a flawed adoption and fostering system that leaves many a child out in the cold or wanting for a real family of their own.
What also makes this show incredibly appealing is the fact that Manson and Fawcett do not joke around when it comes to science. They actually hired a professional science consultant to sit with them and walk them through the theoretical process of human cloning and made sure that their scripts were scientifically accurate. That sits incredibly well with me, let me tell you – a show with correct science and theories is always a good thing to have around, especially when people who actually understand science to that degree watch it. You know that people are taking things seriously when the smallest details are accurate.
Whether you will be sitting on the edge of your seat as Sarah tries to keep her cover from being blown, or laughing at Alison and her antics, or trying to understand exactly what it is Cosima’s rambling on about, you’ll find yourself slowly falling in love with the characters, and doubting every second of the way that they really are all played by one incredibly talented twenty-seven year old.
(Seriously, Tatiana, how do you do it?!)
All in all, a 10 out of 10 rating! There are only ten episodes in the first season, and the second season airs in April 2014, so I advise you get cracking and watch this show before then. It’s never too late to find a new addiction, anyway…
For more information, visit the BBC America website at http://www.bbcamerica.com/orphan-black/ or the Official Orphan Black Tumblr at http://orphanblack.tumblr.com/