Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Orphan Black

by | April 7, 2014 | Comments

One of TV’s most cultishly adored series, Orphan Black is back for season two on April 19. We give you what you need to know to jump into BBC America’s paranoia-drenched sci-fi series.


Orphan Black

Orphan Black

What’s the premise? Small-time grifter Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) discovers that she’s one of a number of clones. While searching desperately for the others, Sarah finds herself pursued by sinister forces that may hold the key to her existence.

What’s it like? Like the Bourne movies, Orphan Black features a protagonist who’s frantically searching for the origin (and meaning) of her existence — often under gloomy, overcast skies. Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), the main focus of the series, bears more than a passing resemblance to Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — she’s a black-clad fringe-dweller and a skilled amateur sleuth who can adapt to even the most perilous situations.

Where can I see it? The second season premieres April 19 at 9 p.m. on BBC America. If you’ve got an Amazon Prime subscription, you can watch the first season for free; otherwise, it’s available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and other digital platforms. You can also catch it on BBC America before season two premieres.

How long will it take? Season one is comprised of 10 episodes of 43 minutes apiece. Give yourself a week to get caught up.

What do the critics think? Season one was one of the best reviewed shows of 2013; it was Certified Fresh at 92 percent on the Tomatometer. Critics were impressed with the show’s brisk pace and clever conceit — as well as Maslany’s astonishing central performance. “[Orphan Black] boasts terrific writing that’s packed with plenty of twists and turns and merrily straddles genres, from cop drama to medical thriller to pure farce,” raved Ethan Alter of Television Without Pity. ” You can’t give Maslany enough credit here,” wrote Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter. “This is a series that feels as confident as any you’ll see on TV right now, and it has the added benefit of being a sci-fi show without much heavy sci-fi, broadening its appeal. The story moves quickly, is thrilling at every turn and has surprisingly solid acting on every level.”

Why should I watch this? Two words: Tatiana Maslany. She’s fantastic. Her assignment couldn’t have been easy — there are numerous scenes in which she’s acting opposite several versions of herself — and yet Maslany is able to make each of the clones so distinctive in personality and manner that there’s never a question of who we’re watching at a given time. Beyond the performances, what makes Orphan Black so compulsively watchable is that it takes an undeniably intriguing premise and lets it play out within a vividly plausible universe. It’s a sci-fi show that never gets bogged down in minutiae; it’s a drama that’s often very funny; and it’s atmospheric and stylish without ever losing sight of the human element.

What’s my next step? If you’re looking for a little more sci-fi in your speculative fiction, Battlestar Galactica is another show about identity and mysterious origins. If you seek another show featuring a strong female protagonist with a yen for disguise, Alias or Nikita will probably do the trick.

What do you like about Orphan Black? How would you explain it to a newbie? Get in on the conversation here.

Tag Cloud

Pirates Interview Valentine's Day social media Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cartoon Best Picture Video Games dreamworks Black History Month WarnerMedia TIFF teaser USA war Indigenous The Walking Dead hidden camera king arthur Pride Month boxing art house target revenge supernatural Apple TV+ ID AMC Plus saw IFC OWN prank dc YouTube Trivia GIFs Pixar comic book movie Star Trek Marvel Studios Family MTV Hallmark Christmas movies cinemax American Society of Cinematographers Fall TV superhero Starz A&E 1990s TV Land breaking bad TNT SDCC TV Set visit politics Lucasfilm comics christmas movies RT History leaderboard sports indie venice Adult Swim ABC sopranos television parents TV movies Fox Searchlight Women's History Month Comic-Con@Home 2021 Paramount Pictures Dark Horse Comics critic resources reboot comedies Box Office movie 2021 james bond screenings Character Guide AMC Sony Pictures posters Rom-Com Calendar Watching Series video on demand dceu Emmys stop motion Apple Musicals Instagram Live football feel good zombies BET Awards psycho science fiction all-time Best Actor basketball 2016 Trailer films President Winners sitcom canceled TV shows spanish Peacock 2018 FXX reviews Netflix women indiana jones Sci-Fi Country Writers Guild of America toronto 2020 Extras Tarantino rom-coms travel cancelled Disney Channel Hallmark heist movie TV One TBS worst Pacific Islander Captain marvel documentaries legend VOD Martial Arts aliens Pet Sematary Amazon spider-man Alien cancelled TV shows classics period drama Marvel name the review strong female leads romance marvel cinematic universe Hollywood Foreign Press Association adaptation news Shudder Toys Sony game show documentary spinoff target scene in color Spectrum Originals ViacomCBS USA Network justice league telelvision singing competition BBC Reality Competition dexter trailers golden globes historical drama YouTube Red First Reviews Premiere Dates comiccon hist technology rt labs kong NYCC golden globe awards die hard wonder woman WGN mockumentary Elton John Columbia Pictures godzilla theme song suspense Polls and Games Mudbound docuseries dogs Spike slasher worst movies Crackle Kids & Family animated concert Ghostbusters RT21 Amazon Prime San Diego Comic-Con independent transformers Podcast Tomatazos rotten aapi Rocketman National Geographic TruTV summer TV blockbuster 2019 rotten movies we love vs. satire OneApp summer preview Disney+ Disney Plus Turner true crime festivals latino Teen adenture Bravo scene in color series MSNBC Crunchyroll streamig Logo MCU Action Marathons Broadway Ovation TCA Awards nfl Comedy Central spain Comic Book Comedy 94th Oscars Music Sundance TV Sundance ABC Signature movies Cartoon Network SXSW sequels jurassic park a nightmare on elm street First Look 4/20 king kong Spring TV joker cats 71st Emmy Awards Reality harry potter Fantasy GoT Summer italian thriller Turner Classic Movies Tubi versus popular binge BBC America Super Bowl biopic Tumblr Apple TV Plus streaming Holidays genre BAFTA Avengers DirecTV Drama new zealand TCM TV renewals critics Paramount Network Film Festival GLAAD 99% Christmas vampires chucky CW Seed mission: impossible 79th Golden Globes Awards Travel Channel children's TV Tags: Comedy based on movie Prime Video mcc franchise directors hispanic Star Wars mob LGBTQ lord of the rings Stephen King Best Director Song of Ice and Fire Mystery Lifetime Christmas movies black comedy Syfy zero dark thirty PaleyFest ratings Lionsgate CNN remakes Legendary olympics VICE Marvel Television Superheroes ghosts Universal Amazon Studios obituary Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Food Network streaming movies foreign FOX elevated horror game of thrones Red Carpet Masterpiece comic books Schedule 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Classic Film E! The Walt Disney Company Quiz 72 Emmy Awards Oscar Mary poppins space doctor who zombie Rocky scorecard Trophy Talk NBC The Purge 73rd Emmy Awards 007 A24 interviews ESPN HBO Countdown fast and furious Disney DGA cults BET Comics on TV scene in color SXSW 2022 anime TCA Winter 2020 Amazon Prime Video Discovery Channel APB nature international scary movies Anna Paquin romantic comedy sag awards Mary Tyler Moore halloween ABC Family rt archives Brie Larson live action Winter TV canceled Warner Bros. diversity discovery adventure Vudu Western know your critic natural history New York Comic Con Academy Awards Endgame History french slashers crossover The Witch japanese Infographic CMT award winner Best and Worst Creative Arts Emmys renewed TV shows SundanceTV police drama LGBT Year in Review Freeform gangster rt labs critics edition nbcuniversal Epix biography dragons The CW YA political drama deadpool live event Esquire mutant Exclusive Video HBO Go Fargo asian-american archives 2015 broadcast Opinion Nickelodeon FX TLC IMDb TV Paramount boxoffice cars PBS blaxploitation australia stoner Horror obi wan finale The Academy blockbusters Universal Pictures fresh ITV toy story dark FX on Hulu Certified Fresh kaiju laika hispanic heritage month Thanksgiving jamie lee curtis Mary Poppins Returns batman halloween tv spanish language Showtime hollywood Awards Tour YouTube Premium Chernobyl action-comedy series universal monsters debate Awards Holiday Cannes disaster Neflix crime thriller spider-verse spy thriller DC streaming service NBA crime drama high school Television Critics Association Photos book adaptation 20th Century Fox Superheroe facebook quibi BBC One 24 frames Mindy Kaling book talk show 45 Tokyo Olympics CBS All Access monster movies Netflix Christmas movies Rock robots DC Universe cops TCA 2017 Ellie Kemper razzies what to watch screen actors guild witnail green book Film Television Academy Nat Geo kids docudrama Arrowverse free movies Sneak Peek scene in color film series X-Men Geeked Week twilight CBS Biopics child's play TCA japan 93rd Oscars medical drama Image Comics pirates of the caribbean serial killer E3 Lifetime trophy Cosplay Black Mirror South by Southwest Film Festival cancelled television See It Skip It Disney streaming service dramedy Walt Disney Pictures Animation Baby Yoda tv talk Star Wars Celebration Focus Features 90s best MGM miniseries cancelled TV series comic book movies Funimation Election Hear Us Out Grammys psychological thriller Best Actress crime Hulu Musical richard e. Grant new york Acorn TV El Rey HBO Max Binge Guide Sundance Now werewolf Disney Plus The Arrangement Pop young adult Heroines HFPA cooking Oscars anthology scary criterion south america black VH1 Wes Anderson unscripted casting Shondaland IFC Films composers superman emmy awards comic Emmy Nominations video 21st Century Fox stand-up comedy 2017 Britbox sequel Paramount Plus marvel comics festival Nominations summer TV preview royal family DC Comics Native PlayStation Fox News new star wars movies Pop TV