It’s a really, really good time to be a genre TV fan – from fantasy to science-fiction there’s a lot to choose from, something which might not have happened if the twin implosions of Fast Forward and The Event (and V, for that matter) had given producers cold feet. So instead of announcing another series about cops or lawyers, now we have another critically lauded show hitting our shores: Orphan Black. Slight spoilers ahead – so if you want to go in tabula rasa, my suggestion is to watch the first episode tonight to see if you like it! I did.
Orphan Black, which premieres today on Lifetime (StarHub ch 514) at 9pm, stars the amazing Tatiana Maslany (you might have seen her on Parks And Recreation) as Sarah Manning, described as a streetwise hustler on the run from a bad relationship and separated from her daughter. Things take a turn for the bizarre when she witnesses the suicide of someone who looks exactly like her – suddenly revealing a world where she discovers that there’s many more identical women out there – who turn out to be clones.
Now, I love me some genre television, especially when it’s well done: And Orphan Black does has a list of accolades behind it, from being named one of TIME’s top 10 TV shows of last year, being ranked #3 in Entertainment Weekly’s own top 10, to winning the fan-voted Tubey award for best new show of last year. Lead actress Maslany was also nominated for her performance at the People’s Choice Awards and the Golden Globe Awards this year.
And from the preview of the first episode, it’s apparent that the whole series will hinge on the performance of Maslany as she slips herself into extremely different roles. She’s been nominated for good reason – Orphan Black is extremely watch-able thanks to her, and in her myriad roles she commands attention.
Main character Sarah starts to take on the identity of the dead girl to unravel the mystery, buy like any show involving clones – especially when they start living each other’s lives – there lies an inherent danger in which other characters become obliviously blind to the evidence that whoever they’re talking to is not who they say they are. It’s still early days, of course, and there is a rather thrilling element to the whole thing as we also start to discover what exactly is going on.
The bigger question is also that of cloning. It’s unclear right now who (or what) is behind Sarah’s predicament, but it does give some food for thought – what if you discovered an identical twin (or more)? I’ve run into pictures of dopplegangers before, and I must say it’s not the most pleasant feeling having thought I was unique all this while. I wonder if twins get shocked or pleased if they discover a triplet – and we do run a risk of over-generalising. There’s also the question of nuture versus nature, and Orphan Black posits the strength of nurture having enough power to, at the very least, manipulate one’s nature. It’ll be interesting to see if all the clones start to share something special.
Sadly, season 2 of Orphan Black is about to start soon in the US – but here’s hoping that we’ll catch up soon enough with what promises to be a pretty exciting series.