‘Orphan Black’ an epic sci-fi


Tatiana Maslany as Sarah in the season three premiere of “Orphan Black.” (Photo courtesy BBC America/TNS)

Rejoice, sestras and sestra-brothers: the best science fiction show on TV restarted over the weekend.

“Orphan Black” is back and bringing the world’s most diverse one-woman show with it.

Tatiana Maslany, for those with little knowledge of the show, plays no less than five major characters currently and has had smaller roles as four more clones over the course of two seasons.

Worry not, though — it’s amazingly easy to forget that the same actress plays all of these parts, as the characters’ looks, personalities and mannerisms are clearly divided from each first appearance.

The thing about “Orphan Black” is that explaining its premise beyond “clones” is a little difficult. It’s at times an engrossing sci-fi epic, but other episodes dive hard into character studies and questions of nature versus nurture.

But somewhere inside the fast-paced plotlines and deep ideas.

Somehow, in the space of 20 episodes, the series has managed to set up complex interpersonal relationships between characters played by the same woman, flesh out backstories for each of the remaining main characters, and make almost every single person on screen someone to root for.

The exception is Paul (Dylan Bruce). Every show needs an annoying potential love interest.

It’s still refreshing that this one is male. In fact, because so many of the major characters are female (and many share genetic material), “Orphan Black” is the rare show that lets its actress(es) do the vast majority of the swashbuckling. The men are more often the worriers, the watchers and the people who react to the women’s movements.

The show manages to make points in favor of gender equality as well — it’s not often the only plot point, but in between balancing the scientific mysteries and a whole host of organizations with bad intentions, the writers have managed to work in pro-choice politics and the fluidity of sexual and gender identity.

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

But for those looking for better representation on TV and a heck of a cool storyline, “Orphan Black” may be worth a shot.

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