Orphan Black, the sleeper BBC America smash hit series, finds its magic in the story of clones. The series, co-created by John Fawcett, explores the relationship dynamics of a group of cloned women, all while battling a secret organization hiding in the shadows, responsible for monitoring the lives of the clones. The first season of the series received quiet critical acclaim when it first came out, but by the time it ended, fans and viewers were roaring for more. The clones are all played by the magnificent Tatiana Maslany; although one would not think it was the same actress when five clones at a time are all in the same room.
The second season of the much buzzed about, and critically acclaimed show comes back April 19. The last season saw infighting between the clones and shocking revelations about their origins. Moving forward in the show, two organizations that disagree with the existence of the clones start a war with one another. Sarah, the main clone, and her sister clones, are all caught in the cross-fire. As are their loved ones. The two organizations call themselves Neolutionists and Proletheans, respectively. The former is responsible for the existence of the clones, as well as other avant-garde medical and evolutionary experiments. The Proletheans, who rely on the sanctity of their religion, hope to put an end to it at all.
What makes Orphan Black and the magic of the clones work, though, is newcomer actress Tatiana Maslany. She performs a wide array of characters, from suburban mom and punk ex-drug dealer, to Ukrainian assassin and a hipster biologist. Last year, many fans and critics were disappointed that she was not nominated for an Emmy award, as it seemed like a sure thing. She was, however, nominated for a Golden Globe this year. Her acting skills are nuanced and rich with snappy dialogue, and Maslany handles the intense drama of the series with grace.
What is even more impressive about Maslany’s acting, is that the plot of Orphan Black often requires her main character, Sarah, to disguise herself as the other clones in sticky situations. The most intense of these scenarios, is when the main character disguises herself as a cop for much of the first season, and passes off one clone’s life as her own. Her performance as a clone playing another clone is complex due to the fact that despite looking like one clone, Maslany does not act identical to that clone, so that the act of disguising oneself as somebody else is highlighted.
All of these complex layers to the show have helped to develop a mythology to Orphan Black, and underscore the magic of clones. John Fawcett has done well in creating an innovative television series for BBC. As season two is coming next week, fans can no doubt wait to get back into the world of clones, family drama, and the two warring organizations that are hellbent on controlling the future of the clones. Orphan Black is nothing short of a stroke of brilliance.
Opinion by Tyler Collins