Attack Of The Tatiana Maslany: 10 Reasons To Watch BBC’s Excellent ‘Orphan Black’

Senior Pop Culture Editor
05.31.13 38 Comments

On Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany plays con artist Sarah. And police officer Beth. And nerdy biology student Cosima. And frustrated soccer mom Alison. And Ukrainian assassin Helena. And pink-haired Katja. Sometimes two of these characters are on-screen at the same time, sometimes it’s three, sometimes one of them will pretend to be another, and yet they never blend together. Maslany is doing career-defining work on the lively science-fiction series (which, for the uninitiated, is about a woman who discovers she’s a clone), and if she doesn’t get an Emmy nomination, I will be upset and blame Harry’s Law. Always blame Harry’s Law.

Anyway, this Saturday is the show’s season one finale, but beginning at noon, BBC America is reairing the first nine episodes of the season, so you can and should catch up. Here are 10 reasons why (mini spoilers).

#1. I’ve heard complaints that the premise is too complicated, but c’mon, keeping track of the clones isn’t that tough — they may look alike, but they’re imbedded with completely different personalities. IT’S IN THE HAIR.

#2. I can’t say it enough: Tatiana Maslany is amazing. Here’s the roster she has to keep track of.

#3. It’s charmingly small-scale. Most of the show’s budget is dedicated to making the overlapping clones look believable, but otherwise, the sets are sparse and the special effects kept to a minimum. One of the biggest problems with, say, Revolution is how empty and vapid it looks; for a show that’s about humanity learning to survive without technology, it’s frustratingly dependent on CGI. Orphan knows and works around its limitations.

#4. Also, there’s lady kissing and ample nudity, if that’s your thing.

#5. Orphan Black may eventually get too wrapped up in its own mythology, like dozens of genre shows before it (*coughALIAScough*), but it’s still early enough in its run that that’s only a hypothetical problem. As of now, it’s treading the line between ridiculous and exhilarating beautifully, while still finding ways to surprise.


#7. The “sassy gay” is a tired trope, but Sarah’s foster brother, Felix, is integral enough to the plot where his mini-comic reliefs are necessary to take a breather from the non-stop action. Plus, his blooming friendship with another one of the clones has resulted in one of the show’s most delightful, unexpected relationships.

#8. Alison Hendrix?

#9. Alison Hendrix.

#10. ALISON HENDRIX: the best. She was a suburban queen who got fed up with living in a little box and now tortures people with glue guns and gets drunk and commits adultery and lies and BLASTS Meredith Brooks while driving around in her minivan. She was about as high strung as they come, until she learned to get low.

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