Last Saturday, amid a much buzzed-about season finale, I finally decided to check out BBC America’s new science-fiction drama Orphan Black. A decision that preluded a 10-hour series binge where I ditched Zumba, ignored my iPhone and left the sofa only for the occasional bathroom break.
Yes, it was that good.
Set in present-day North America, Orphan Black follows the story of Sarah Manning, a down on her luck hustler who, after witnessing a strange doppelgänger leap in front of a subway train, decides to steal her lookalike’s identity to make a better life for herself and her estranged daughter.
But when Sarah discovers she shares more with her counterpart than a winning smile, she is drawn down a rabbit hole rife with mad scientists, religious extremists, crazies and, yes, even a guy with a tail.
What follows is a near perfect thrill ride that blurs the line between mystery, science fiction and comedy.
Like any good science fiction story, the show opens the doors to ethical dilemmas regarding the pitfalls of scientific progress like:
Do the benefits of cloning outweigh the cons?
If a clone’s DNA is patented, does that make her property?
If scientific experiment falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
When is it ok to let a haywire garbage disposal strangle your BFF to death?
At the same time, Orphan Black’s brilliant cast adds levity to concepts that might otherwise fly over the heads of less philosophical viewers. Jordan Gavaris is a welcome diversion as Felix Dawkins, Sarah’s outrageous “rent boy” foster brother. And Kevin Hanchard is wonderful as a nosy but caring detective trying to make sense of the whole thing.
But by far, Tatiana Maslany is her own best supporting actress, donning the role of Sarah and five of her very different clones in an effortless performance that will make you forget you are watching a single actress.
I highly recommend this series to Fringe lovers, 24 fanatics and just about anyone looking for non-stop entertainment on a rainy, Saturday afternoon. Just try to get your Zumba on the day before since you’ll likely be glued to your TV for all ten episodes.