Written in Ink

Orphan Black

At Rome Girl's Suggestion I've spent the last couple of weeks watching Orphan Black and am now fully caught up with this bastard stepchild of Alias and Ringer.

It's fun. But it's not as fun as it could be. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this - because I should love it and instead I just like it.

Alias and Ringer are my two favorite television shows ever and it certainly has strong elements of both (including the Rimbaldi symbol.)


I think it comes down to two main things:

1. The clones themselves. We have mad scientist lesbian clone, grifter clone, bad cop clone, evil corporate executive clone, feral clone and suburban housewife clone. Of these the only one with any vulnerability and hope is suburban housewife clone. I love her. I could watch an entire show just about her. What Alias and Ringer did that was smart was make Jennifer Garner and Sarah Michelle Geller just as vulnerable and full of hope as they were badass. This makes it much easier to invest emotionally in them. With most of the clones it's just sort of like "eh, what is this person lacking impulse control going to do next?" That works with the housewife clone because it's so bizzare when contrasted against who she generally is. With the others, they are cynical fuckups anyway, so them doing cynical fucked up shit doesn't provoke as much of a reaction.

2. The bad guys. For a weird show like this to work you need charismatic bad guys. That's what people like. Alias did this brilliantly with Arvin Slone, Julian Sark and Irena Derevko. They were all evil, but they were likable, interesting and nuanced bad guys. And they all gave us a reason to relate to them, so we didn't feel guilty cheering on their more entertaining evil schemes. On Orphan black there's no charisma to the bad guys. You get "religious nut bad guys" and "science nut bad guys" but they are all sort of interchangeable. I kept hoping that would change, but given that we are two thirds of the way through Season Two, I don't think that's likely.

Still, it is a good show and I do recommend it - I just wish it did more with its potential.

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