Orphan Black Is the New Black

tatiana-maslanyLast night I woke up in a cold sweat. I had been dreaming that Netflix sent me a documentary film I keep pushing down on my DVD queue instead of Orphan Black Season 1 Disc 3.

The horror. Oh, the horror.

In the morning I checked the unopened DVD packs on my coffee table. Disc 3, check. Lego Movie, check. Sorry, No Place on Earth. Not today.

Why was this dream a nightmare? Because Orphan Black has surpassed my wildest expectations–which were, admittedly, quite low. A few friends and EW had highly recommended it, but it’s produced by BBC America. I thought that I might not “get” British drama in the same way I don’t quite “get” British humor.

Apparently I completely misunderstood what BBC America is, because they show is set in Chicago, not the UK. And it feels like an American drama–a well-produced, well-written one, like those on HBO.

The basic premise of Orphan Black (spoiler free) is that a 30-something woman discovers that she’s a clone…by meeting some of her fellow clones.

There are tons of great things about the show, but I think these two sum them up without spoilers:

  1. Dramatic shows work when characters are constantly put in challenging situations that they have to figure their way out of. That is almost every scene in Orphan Black. You (the viewer) are wondering, scene after scene, “How is she going to get out of this?” And then she does. It’s gripping, and your affection and admiration for the main character grows every episode as a result.
  2. The main actress, Tatiana Maslany, is absolutely amazing. She plays all of the clones, and you quickly forget that they’re all played by one character because they each have different mannerisms, physicalities, and accents. Most remarkable is her ability to act within a character. At times, she plays a clone pretending to be another clone, and it’s thrilling to watch.

The show isn’t without its flaws. There are way too many times where a character should tell someone a key piece of information, but instead they hang up or drive off.

The other flaw (spoiler alert) is that the one character who keeps doing bad things is clearly going to keep doing those bad things and should be dealt with, but for no reason at all the other characters don’t deal with her until it’s much too late. (end spoiler)

But overall, it’s a fantastic show. If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch the first season for free right now. Make sure you’ve set aside the next 8 hours.

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