Looking for a binge? Something worthy of holding your attention for at least five seasons straight? Orphan Black is a no-question winner.
The Canadian gem is the kind of sci-fi series that marries big ideas with lovely, charming characters and a tight, fast-paced plot. It also stars Tatiana Maslany. Her likability levels are off the charts. (Let’s hope they stay that way now that she’s been recruited for a Marvel TV show.)
You can watch Orphan Black in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video. Not including the follow-up audiobook series, it sees Maslany play a total of 14 characters, one of which is a talking scorpion. It’s a hallucination, to make this show sound slightly less weird.
A quick rundown: Orphan Black follows Sarah Manning, a con artist who witnesses a woman jump to her death in front of a train. The twist: This woman doesn’t just look like Sarah, she could be her twin. Only instead of a Clash T-shirt and jeans, she’s wearing a corporate pencil dress. Maslany plays both of these roles — a hint to what’s going on.
What follows is a multilayered mystery involving evil biotechnology institutions, religious extremists and a suburban soccer mom. An uptight, terrifying suburban soccer mom.
OK, Orphan Black is weird. But it’s also gorge-worthy TV.
Maybe you’ve come across it at some point while stuck in the endless scroll. Maybe you thought, “This sounds like a military operation… or a paint swatch.” But, luckily, Orphan Black is one of the best sci-fi series around.
Not only does it explore the nature vs. nurture debate, it explores the nature vs. nurture debate with an easily accessible comedy-thriller tone. Its tension-loaded writing, polished visuals and memorable supporting cast arrived in a fully formed package when the show premiered on BBC America in 2013.
Four more superb seasons followed. While the best moments are front-loaded in seasons 1 and 2, the entire five-season run continues to enrich its world of scientists, police detectives and covert military operatives. It takes surprising left turns all the way until the satisfying end.
Then there’s the killer soundtrack, perfectly timing I Got You Babe over an assassin smiling back at Sarah, plotting her murder. Across the series comes an effortlessly cool parade of The Clash, New Order and local Canadian bands vibing out of their garages in the Toronto setting.
Yet — aside from the production, the performances, the cool science — Orphan Black’s greatest success is its characters.
They live full, distinct lives, and you can’t help but care about them madly. Take sugar-obsessed, Ukrainian assassin Helena, who literally lives inside a cage. Don’t let her demented attempts to stab Sarah disguise her heart of gold, earning her the title of most lovable assassin years before Villanelle came along in Killing Eve.
A dark, intelligent thriller that explores big concepts and cracks jokes while doing it, Orphan Black is a must-see sci-fi gem. It saw Maslany gain much-deserved recognition as she performed tirelessly across the five seasons, her co-stars gushing about her work ethic and sunny attitude. After being snubbed on several occasions for an Emmy, Maslany finally wrapped her fingers around a best lead actress award in 2016.
In 2022, her career is set to reach even greater heights. Marvel Studios scored her services for a new superhero TV show, in which she’ll play the Hulk’s cousin, She-Hulk.
This presents yet another reason to watch Orphan Black. Watch it to understand why one of the biggest studios on the planet cast Maslany in the first place.
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