Orphan Black Sets the Scene for Current Television

If you’re like me, you count the days between seasons of Game of Thrones. You binge watch entire seasons of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards in one sitting. You might even tune in to watch this week’s broadcast of The Blacklist instead of streaming it, which means you’re probably watching Orphan Black, one of the best cable shows currently on television. But you’re not. How do I know you’re not? Because according to Nielsen less than 1 million people have tuned in.

Created by John Fawcett and Graeme Manson, the show is already in its sophomore season on BBC America. Tatiana Maslany, the star of the show, was even quietly nominated for a Golden Globe for her astounding performance alongside Hollywood heavy hitters Kerry Washington (Scandal), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), and Robin Wright (House of Cards).

As for story content, this one is right up there with Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad.

It all starts on a subway platform where street urchin Sarah Manning (Maslany) is frantically talking on her cell phone. We quickly glean her circumstances, something about not being able to see her daughter because of drug use and general irresponsibility. In the middle of her conversation, however, a woman behaving very strangely on the platform catches her eye. She paces back and forth and then takes off her shoes and jacket. Sarah approaches her and makes eye contact with the woman, except that the woman looks just like Sarah. Before Sarah can say anything, the woman hurls herself in front of a train.

Roll opening credits.

Thus starts Sarah Manning’s decent down the rabbit hole. Sarah is a clone and there are dangerous people who will stop at nothing to keep her from finding the truth.

Fawcett and Manson may have delivered the best 2 minute cold opening for a dramatic television series since viewers met Walter White in his underpants back in 2008.

The writers have introduced ten clones over 19 episodes and Maslany plays all of them perfectly, each with her or his own accent, personality, physicality and sexuality.

Not only is the story compelling and the acting marvelous, it’s brave. In its willingness to delve into under-explored sexualities from bisexuality to transgender and its ability to address rape, fertility, scientific ethics and drug addiction, Orphan Black has quietly catapulted into the hearts of critics and viewers across the world.

The season 2 finale airs this Saturday at 9pm on BBC America. You can watch the show in its entirety on Amazon Instant Video.

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