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

Esquire what to watch Shudder theme song cops dragons crossover Cannes Tomatazos The Purge Avengers comic Hulu Marvel versus Mindy Kaling RT21 children's TV Comedy Central Holiday doctor who DirecTV TV renewals DGA Musical Cosplay WarnerMedia Cartoon Network slashers Schedule 007 Certified Fresh Sci-Fi binge spider-man Baby Yoda revenge Character Guide independent television TNT Extras Marvel Studios Rom-Com President Ghostbusters unscripted harry potter Lionsgate Reality mockumentary movies National Geographic Sundance TV sports Thanksgiving San Diego Comic-Con Podcast Turner First Look Trailer serial killer TV Tarantino USA Network space Shondaland Drama Disney Plus TCM latino Nominations thriller Spike Family hispanic Mary poppins Disney Channel biography directors Hallmark Christmas movies indie Reality Competition zombie Walt Disney Pictures IFC blaxploitation Mary Tyler Moore IFC Films Emmys name the review OWN Mary Poppins Returns psycho Masterpiece TLC Pop Marvel Television Opinion cancelled TV shows Tumblr Discovery Channel Kids & Family Nat Geo Vudu 2020 adaptation MSNBC Peacock free movies cats BBC BBC America NYCC robots SXSW LGBTQ RT History Amazon Studios cooking game show zombies Apple TCA 2017 First Reviews facebook Horror CNN Best and Worst Emmy Nominations Election Dark Horse Comics TV Land The CW Country political drama SDCC FXX cars breaking bad travel OneApp TCA Winter 2020 Women's History Month strong female leads The Witch sequel 71st Emmy Awards reboot Brie Larson See It Skip It Heroines Winter TV cartoon Polls and Games Awards Tour USA Creative Arts Emmys composers singing competition Showtime Lucasfilm Sony Pictures Disney Pride Month mutant streaming Classic Film TCA nature Ellie Kemper Paramount Superheroes Disney streaming service Superheroe Universal Bravo vampires teaser Apple TV Plus Pixar blockbuster cancelled television Fantasy rotten movies we love Stephen King NBC cinemax anthology TruTV crime Trivia talk show Interview psychological thriller Acorn TV Sundance Now video HBO Max richard e. Grant casting green book Holidays Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Martial Arts MTV YouTube Red Rock Action SundanceTV 21st Century Fox Epix crime drama AMC quibi E! Rocketman zero dark thirty 2019 docudrama historical drama Fox News New York Comic Con PaleyFest true crime Netflix Christmas movies A&E award winner dramedy Spectrum Originals 2016 Sneak Peek Television Academy CMT Film Festival Apple TV+ CBS All Access Trophy Talk period drama stand-up comedy 24 frames Logo Amazon Prime Video E3 foreign based on movie Marathons ABC Family Infographic Biopics adventure Music LGBT cults batman Black Mirror tv talk spy thriller renewed TV shows cancelled TV series Paramount Network Comics on TV GIFs Song of Ice and Fire medical drama Set visit documentary cancelled Oscars YouTube Premium Photos WGN CBS screen actors guild sag awards ESPN YA technology Crackle Mystery aliens social media Calendar police drama The Arrangement Fall TV Premiere Dates dc comics VH1 ITV canceled Valentine's Day Star Wars joker Sundance Red Carpet diversity Columbia Pictures ghosts TIFF GLAAD festivals science fiction American Society of Cinematographers spain book Britbox Quiz X-Men FX History canceled TV shows elevated horror Food Network christmas movies Box Office Comedy romantic comedy Animation movie politics game of thrones Winners Elton John Adult Swim Hallmark Musicals DC Comics DC Universe Pirates dceu Disney+ Disney Plus Lifetime Christmas movies spanish language 45 Teen Rocky Crunchyroll Syfy Toys boxoffice south america Pet Sematary supernatural discovery Video Games Anna Paquin FOX Comic Book werewolf finale Grammys Netflix PBS Binge Guide Freeform Tubi toy story Western golden globes hist witnail Warner Bros. Lifetime Year in Review 2018 animated Writers Guild of America Film Spring TV YouTube Summer romance The Walking Dead Nickelodeon El Rey TBS ABC Ovation Christmas Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CW Seed screenings Captain marvel Star Trek VICE sitcom 20th Century Fox Mudbound Turner Classic Movies natural history kids series ratings Endgame Countdown comiccon Awards transformers HBO APB A24 spinoff Amazon Prime Super Bowl halloween MCU justice league 2017 war Arrowverse Starz DC streaming service Watching Series crime thriller jamie lee curtis Chernobyl BET miniseries GoT Academy Awards Amazon disaster 2015 anime