TV Talk with Breanna #7: Join the Clone Club with Orphan Black

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When looking up a show on IMDb, it’s fairly uncommon to find an actor play more than one character, but it does happen in many sci-fi or fantasy shows. In these shows, it’s possible for an actor to portray versions of their character that are older, younger, or from an alternate universe. However, it’s extremely rare to see an actor with seven characters (or more) listed next to their name — in fact, to my knowledge, it has only happened once. This can only be the result of a show about clones, which is exactly what Orphan Black is.

Orphan Black, which aired its first season on BBC America last year, follows Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), a small-time con woman and thief, who soon gets wrapped up in a conspiracy surrounding several women who look exactly like her. After witnessing the suicide of Elizabeth “Beth” Childs, a detective who is identical to her in appearance, Sarah steals Beth’s identity in an attempt to take all of her money and start a new life with Sarah’s daughter Kira and foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris). However, Sarah gets swept up in Beth’s life, both in her police work and love life, as she falls in love with Beth’s fiance Paul (Dylan Bruce).

Sarah starts to investigate Beth, trying to find the answers as to why they look exactly alike and what led this identical woman to kill herself. It’s not long before she finds another lookalike, Katja Obringer. Upon seeing Katja’s death, Sarah realizes that someone is trying to kill all of her clones. Sarah soon discovers several other women who look just like her — Alison Hendrix, a soccer mom; Cosima Niehaus, a biology graduate student; Helena, an assassin — and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all of their lives.

Even though a show about clones isn’t a completely new idea, it’s the clever writing that makes the show original. Even though the clones look the same, they all have their own personal identities, and it is their relationships with each other and their journey to find out where they all came from that makes the show so interesting. Orphan Black also makes its viewers aware of the issues surrounding human cloning and the ethical and moral implications involved if something like this really did happen.

While the story is very intriguing and the writing is top-par, it is the acting that makes Orphan Black stand out from the rest. Specifically, it is Maslany’s performance, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, that makes the show so incredible. Even though Maslany plays almost the entirety of the main cast, it’s as if all of the clones are portrayed by different actors because she is simply so talented. During scenes where multiple clones are interacting, it’s easy to ignore the fact that they all look the same and get swept up in their characters. Each clone has their own mannerisms that make them unique, so that despite being played by the same person, each one is truly their own. Even during times when the clones have to pretend to be each other (for example, when Alison must act as Sarah in front of Kira), it’s obvious which one is which because of the way Maslany has brought each character to life and made them unique. Maslany has received universal acclaim for portrayal of the clones, and despite her recent Emmy snub, the actress has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress of a Television Series Drama.

After a hiatus that lasted nearly a year, Orphan Black returns with its second season on April 19. It’s not too late to join the Clone Club — you can catch up on iTunes before the premiere, but remember: the first rule of Clone Club is to not talk about Clone Club.