If you’ve not see Orphan Black (season 3 premieres APRIL 18TH[woot!]), that’s too bad, because it has most defintely seen you.
Wait, no, that’s creepy and probably not true.
What is true is two things (well, probably there are more than two true things in this world, but, for the sake of this particular post, let’s focus on two).
1) I watched most of Orphan Black in a week or so long binge of all the episodes ever with my sister and eg. A great way to watch any series, really, but in particular, a great way to watch Orphan Black because it manages to be totally pulpy and intellectual at the same time. It’s sexy and thought provoking. It’s feminist and queer and possibly intersectional though I don’t know if the intersection between feminism and queerness and cloning is exactly what they had in mind with that. But, really. It has its own hashtag #cloneclub
It’s a fantastic profile of a fantastic actress and her life and role in a fantastic series that manages to do all of the amazing things, including frame feminism and genre in interesting ways, and also avoid being about time vampires.
On feminism and genre:
In its subject matter, “Orphan Black” broods on the nature-nurture debate in human biology, but in its execution, the show cleverly extends the same question to matters of genre. What does the exact same woman look like if you grow her in the petri dish of “Desperate Housewives” or on a horror-film set in Eastern Europe? What about a police procedural? The result is a revelation: Instead of each archetype existing as the lone female character in her respective universe, these normally isolated tropes find one another, band together and seek to liberate themselves from the evil system that created them.
The question at the show’s heart is whether the clones have free will and the right to lead normal lives, or if they are valuable only as experimental subjects to be monitored, impregnated, sterilized and policed. “It’s so thematically connected to feminist issues,” Graeme Manson, one of the show’s creators, told me. “Who owns you, who owns your body, your biology? Who controls reproduction?”
On not being Time Vampire:
The secret code name for “Orphan Black” at Pinewood Toronto Studios is “Time Vampire.” It’s also the crew’s nickname for the Technodolly, a telescoping camera crane that memorizes and repeats complex movements exactly, enabling a multiple-clone scene to be constructed in layers. Maslany does the scene as each clone twice — once using a double (or doubles) to get the blocking, timing and shadows right, and then once without. Because the camera movements are identical from take to take, they can be layered together in postproduction.
All joking aside, “Time Vampire” also encapsulates what “Orphan Black” could have been without Maslany’s nuanced performance: a show so bogged down in its technical ambition and so in love with the possibilities of its own technology that it seemed mechanical. Instead, the final product feels organic, natural, real. When one clone pours another clone a glass of wine, you’re so engrossed by the dynamic developing between them that you barely notice you’ve just witnessed an extraordinary feat of engineering.
There’s more brilliance where that came from. Go read it.