This might seem like a wildly unpopular opinion, but I think Orphan Black is a very overrated piece of television. I recently bingewatched the show’s two seasons and while I was certainly entertained by the exploits of a runaway and her various clones, I never really loved the show. So many people have been quick to proclaim the sci-fi series as “the best ever”, and yet I found myself unable to connect to the characters and their emotional journeys.
It’s sad but apart from Tatiana’s performance (more on that later), I’ve seen this all before. The show’s DNA (pun intended) includes the customary dose of covert government agencies, religious zealots, and a shady love interest. Nothing shocked me (well except for that tail), and nothing ever struck me as particularly fresh. Maybe my expectations were too high, but over the course of two seasons, I was never once blown away, and that’s terribly disappointing.
I think the show’s biggest misstep was its desire to send each of the ladies off to do their own thing. As a result, some subplots (Alison’s family dramas for example) became superfluous and ended up detracting from the main mythology. I get that such storylines were crafted to develop the clones’ personal lives, but they instigated zero emotional attachment from my end.
Of course none of my criticisms detract from Tatiana Maslany’s utterly astounding performance. The praise she’s earned over the last year is clearly deserved, as Maslany mindbogglingly plays almost 90% of the show’s cast. Quite impressively, she manages to pack every single clone with a unique set of nuances and ticks. Sarah, Cosima, Rachel, Alison, Helena – you never once question her ability to juggle them all and she does it with such apparent ease. It is indeed a shame that Maslany has yet to be nominated for an Emmy, but I think the hype she’s gotten has almost made up for it. In addition, the technical wizardry and CGI utilized to pit Maslany against herself on a weekly basis are just exceptional. And yes, that group dance-fest immediately springs to mind.
Orphan Black is an ambitious and well-produced show, but I have yet to truly fall under its spell. Perhaps that will all change in season three (in light of the gamechanger dropped in the season two finale).