5 on the 5th: Five Reasons Why BBC America’s “Orphan Black” Is Awesome

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On the fifth day of each month, 5 on the 5th shares five of something that I like or recommend to readers. Whether it’s five items that share a common theme, or five reasons why I like the topic at hand, this monthly meme gives us an opportunity to talk about other subjects that aren’t normally discussed here at the blog. 

I know last month’s 5 on the 5th was also TV-oriented… But Game of Thrones isn’t the only awesome show that’s back for a new season. Orphan Black launched its fourth season on April 14th on BBC America; and though I’ve mentioned it before at the blog, it’s time to dedicate a post to this crazy-fantastic series. 😀

And what’s the best way to do that if many readers aren’t familiar with Orphan Black? To give you five reasons to start watching it!

NOTE: This following post contains limited spoilers from Seasons 1 through 3 of Orphan Black.

Five Reasons Why Orphan Black Is Awesome

cosima-sarah-scott-promotional-photos-orphan-black-season-4

From left to right: OB characters Cosima Niehaus, Sarah Manning (both played by Tatiana Maslany), and Scott Smith (played by Josh Vokey)

Reason #1: It rolls several genres into a brilliantly colored, spasmodic ball – and somehow makes sense of it all. 

How can I summarize Orphan Black? Well, it’s a science fiction / thriller show about a “family” of female clones investigating their origins and struggling with the effects that their discoveries have had on their lives. But there’s a lot more to Orphan Black than that.

Yes, it’s science-y at times. But it’s also part crime serial, part comedy, and part family drama, with lots of action, occasional romance, and the odd horror element. In other words, it’s pulse-pounding, emotional, bizarre, and wildly entertaining. I sometimes liken Orphan Black to Game of Thrones for its unpredictability. They may be starkly different shows, but they both guarantee that they’ll keep viewers guessing.

Orphan Black clones

The five main clones in Orphan Black (left to right): executive Rachel Duncan, soccer mom Allison Hendrix, former con artist Sarah Manning, microbiology student Cosima Niehaus, and assassin Helena.

Reason #2: Tatiana Maslany – to the nth degree

This Canadian-born actress plays all of the female clones on Orphan Black. Yes, you read that correctly – all of them. Five of the clones are considered “regulars” (see the above image). But in the show’s four seasons so far, Tatiana Maslany has played a whopping 14 different characters. The clones aren’t carbon copies of each other, either (no pun intended). They have different personalities, occupations, even nationalities. There have also been times when one clone has had to pretend to be one of her “sisters.” So, you’ll get a scene when Tatiana is playing uptight soccer mom Allison, who’s trying to act like street-smart Sarah, but you can tell it’s Allison based on certain tics. Crazy, huh?

That level of adaptability is a testament to Tatiana’s acting. How many actors or actresses can pull off playing so many characters thanks to body language, accent, and makeup / costume, yet you know exactly who they’re playing at that moment? Not many, last I knew. I can’t wait for the day when Tatiana lands a much bigger film or TV role that brings her talent to a much wider audience. Then again, I don’t want her to leave Orphan Black anytime soon, because she’s a big reason – if not THE biggest reason – why the show is so mind-blowingly good.

Learn more about my favorite Orphan Black‘s clones here.

Orphan Black Felix

Reason #3: Jordan Garavis as the awesome Felix Dawkins

You know who my FAVORITE Orphan Black character is, though? This guy. 😀 Jordan Garavis has been brilliant as Felix Dawkins. As an artist and gay male prostitute, Felix is quirky, flamboyant, and insanely funny. More importantly, he’s Sarah Manning’s foster brother, and the first “outsider” to learn about the clones once Sarah gets involved. Since then, he’s grown up so much, acting as Sarah’s “voice of reason” when she needs it and becoming a brother figure of sorts to other local clones like Allison and Cosima. Even in that more protective, responsible role, he’s still the show’s best source of comic relief.

Season 4 shows Felix at a personal crossroads. The events of last season have left him feeling alienated from his adopted family (Sarah and their foster mother) and motivated to find his birth family. It’s definitely the right decision for him, and I’m interested in seeing how his search ties in with Orphan Black‘s bigger picture. But I also hope this doesn’t mean we’ll see less of what has made Felix such a wonderfully complex character, or that it pulls him away from Sarah and the other clones forever.

Orphan Black support cast

Past and present members of Orphan Black’s cast (left to right): Évelyne Brochu as Dr. Delphine Cormier, Kevin Hanchard as Detective Art Bell, Maria Doyle Kennedy as Siobhán Sadler (Mrs. S), Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierden, and Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix.

Reason #4: Actually, the entire Orphan Black cast is pretty darn good.

It’s impossible to list other supporting characters on Orphan Black without having to explain their involvement in the web of subplots. Just know that each character has ties to at least one of the clones and is memorable in their own unique way. Not to mention the actors and actresses who have appeared so far on the show (especially the recurring cast members) are so, SO good in the roles they play. If you’re looking for a show that features consistently high-caliber talent – well, look no further!

Orphan Black Delphine and Cosima

Reason #5: It raises thought-provoking issues and embraces diversity.

Orphan Black has received critical acclaim for more than its unique premise and stellar cast. The show’s overall “message” since Season 1 have touched viewers’ lives and roused thoughtful discussion on the moral and ethical implications of human cloning. The impact that science and corporate power have on personal identity and freedom is the overriding theme. But other concepts such as family, friendship, love, and loyalty are tightly woven into each episode, too.

Some people also describe Orphan Black as a feminist show. While I can see where they’re coming from, the Project CASTOR revelation in Seasons 2 and 3 proved how men are victims of cloning as well. So, in essence, Orphan Black is about humanity, the cruelty we inflict upon each other, and our inherent right to live according to our own rules and desires.

Orphan Black has also been praised for its inclusiveness of character diversity. The female clones in particular come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sexual orientations, and the latter allows the show to explore LGBT relationships such as Cosima’s romance with Dr. Delphine Cormier (see above image). This might take Orphan Black out of some viewers’ comfort zones. Yet in my experience, watching a character’s onscreen joys, fears, and broken hearts often tugs at my own despite any differences I have from them. They’re human, just like I am. That matters more to me than whether they’re heterosexual or not.

Do you watch Orphan Black? (If you haven’t checked it out yet, click here to find out if it’s playing in your country.) What do you think of the current season so far? If you had to choose, who is your favorite clone? 

18 thoughts on “5 on the 5th: Five Reasons Why BBC America’s “Orphan Black” Is Awesome

  1. I know this show was MADE for me, but I’ve never seen it! You’ve totally made me want to start watching it:-) I just need to figure out how to do that. I’m so out of the TV loop I don’t even know what network it’s on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! 😀 It’s on BBC America here in the States. If you get it in your cable package, you can also watch the previous seasons OnDemand. (There’s always NetFlix, too.) I recommend starting at the beginning, though. Otherwise, the later episodes won’t make as much sense.

      Like

  2. ORPHAN BLACK is my favourite show too! And its biggest secret? It’s Canadian. 🙂 Airs on Space up here (streams on Space.ca or Crave TV) and is written/produced/filmed in Toronto.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay for fellow #CloneClub members! 😀 I actually was thinking of you, Heather, when I was writing this, so I’m glad you had a chance to check this out.

      Do you have a favorite clone? Or is it too hard to choose between them?

      Like

      • I have a soft spot for quirky, troubled assassins, so Helena is kinda my fave. Though Allison makes me laugh the most. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d heard the name, but knew nothing about the show… thanks for giving me something to binge! 😀 Hahah. Very exciting. 🙂 The different photos of the clones alone is enough to make me want to watch it. :O

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I’m not much of a binge-watcher, but when I started watching Orphan Black 2 years ago, I watched the entire first season and half of the second season in 1 week. XD It’s definitely addictive!

      Isn’t it amazing how different each clone looks despite the obvious similarities? It just goes to show important wardrobe, hair style, and personality can be in creating a character. *bows to the masterful acting of Tatiana Maslany*

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Orphan Black! It’s definitely one of my favourite shows! I haven’t started the newest season yet but I can’t wait to binge it when I do 🙂 Tatiana Maslany is such a brilliant actress and far too under-appreciated!
    A great post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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