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Suspension of Disbelief: Orphan Black

Orphan Black

BBC America

Starring Tatiana Maslany (as almost everyone)

Rating: 4/5 clones

Orphan Black is a new series from the BBC that I got hooked on because it plays after Dr Who, and thus I was already on the correct station to start watching it. It’s only about halfway into its first season, so this will necessarily be a somewhat incomplete review, but I’ll do my best to get across the gist of the show.

Orphan Black follows Sarah, a bit of a street urchin who is looking to regain custody of her daughter and move away from her abusive ex. Unfortunately for Sarah, when she comes back to town to find her daughter, she witnesses the suicide of someone who looks exactly like her (no spoilers here, it’s in the first 5 minutes of the first episode). Curious, she begins to explore this woman’s life, and slowly comes to realize that not only is she not the person she thought she was, but that there are more like her, and that she may be in danger.


This show is disturbing, dark, graphic, mysterious, tense, and wonderful. It is not for the faint of heart (there’s some graphic sex scenes, a fair amount of blood, some self-harm, obviously suicide, drugs…), and the whole show has a nice dark, gritty look (which is something I love). The main characters are fairly well fleshed out so far, and I personally have a deep love for Felix (Sarah’s foster brother). The plot is not predictable. At all. I never have any idea what’s about to happen, and my boyfriend and I are constantly coming up with new theories about who’s killing whom for what reason (and we’re always wrong). The suspense is just suspenseful enough to not make me pee my pants, but to keep me always wanting more. It pulls you in. This is the kind of show that I wish I weren’t watching as it’s coming out because I could see myself pulling a full weekend netflix marathon and watching the whole thing.

People flit in and out with bits of information that you have to scrap together. Small things that didn’t seem important are. You are constantly left wanting more because just as you think you’re starting to figure things out, someone new appears with a completely unexpected motive or piece of information. This is one of the more addicting shows I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately the science of it isn’t stellar (they just brush off the mechanics of cloning as unimportant), but if you let yourself buy into the reality that it paints, it’s consistent and it’s gripping. It is more sci-fi than fantasy, and for the most part it doesn’t push the boundaries of science very far (there’s a lot of forensic science which seems fairly mundane to me, but I am not a forensic scientist). For the curious mind such as myself, it is a must see.

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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com

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