To tell you the truth, I was not looking to add another new show to my ever growing list of television obligations. But I swear to you, when BBC America pulls you in, there’s very little you can do to stop it from happening. That’s how I started on Orphan Black, a fun little drama about a girl and her many clones. We’re heading into the first season finale, and the performance(s) by Tatiana Maslany have been Emmy-worthy. It’s a feast for the eyes to see all the different characters she can be and then to see them interact with one another.
We’ve met 6 clones so far, but there are definitely others. And I don’t want to get too detailed because I think it’s more exciting to go in with the least amount of background information as possible. As an introduction, we meet Sarah as she witnesses someone who looks exactly like her jump in front of a train. Sarah digs into the woman’s stuff on the platform and sees her own face with the name Elizabeth Childs. Beth is a cop, lives in a swanky apartment, and has $75,000 in a bank account. Sarah — involved with drugs, a crappy ex-boyfriend, and who just wants custody of her daughter — takes on Beth’s identity to get the money and get out of town. But she’s now completely interwoven in Beth’s life, including working with Beth’s partner, Art, and Beth’s boyfriend, Paul. Neither of them can tell that Sarah isn’t Beth. Once Sarah realizes Beth was in contact with other women who looked like them, Sarah abandons her plan to skip town to get to the bottom of it.
She eventually stumbles upon several other clones: Alison, a soccer mom; Cosima, an American PhD student who is looking into their genetics to figure out what they are; and Helena, the crazy villain clone. Sarah learns quickly that the first rule of Clone Club is that you don’t talk about clone club. Once they realize that other clones are being killed off, It’s up to Sarah to use her resources as Beth to keep her fellow clones safe. Helping Sarah navigate own life and Beth’s is her (adopted) brother Felix, wonderfully played by Jordan Gavaris. He’s gay, in case the show doesn’t smack you over the head with it. But it’s all fun and you’ll love the comic relief once things get too intense.
The first few episodes do the standard setup of story lines and then you’re on a roller-coaster that doesn’t stop. The Orphan Black world is fast-paced but builds appropriately, without bogging you down with too much information. And as I’ve already said, Tatiana Maslany makes this show. I think the realistic/sci-fi elements keep things interesting, but she’s the reason this is the best show on television right now. Catch the marathon on Saturday, June 1st and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
The season finale of Orphan Black airs June 1st at 9pm on BBC America.