Playing a lead role can be a challenge for any actor, let alone playing several characters in the same scene. Fortunately, Tatiana Maslany more than rises to the occasion in Orphan Black, a sci-fi series about a woman who discovers she is part of a cloning experiment. The co-production between the BBC and two Canadian companies was praised for its complex and well-crafted female characters as well as a virtuosic performance by Maslany.
In the first season, con artist Sarah Manning witnesses the suicide of a woman named Beth Childs. Sarah notices something rather unusual about the dead woman: she looks exactly like her. As Sarah soon discovers, Beth isn’t a long-lost twin, but one of many clones that were part of an experiment spanning two continents.
Sarah seeks out more clones, eventually working with two of them and her foster brother Felix to determine why they exist, setting themselves up for battle against those seeking to destroy them and uncovering secrets about their foster mother, Mrs S.
How many seasons of Orphan Black are there?
There are five seasons of Orphan Black, each with 10 episodes.
Who is in the Orphan Black cast?
Canadian Tatiana Maslany (Heartland, Pose) stars as Sarah Manning—as well as her many clones.
Tatiana Maslany (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
Fellow Canadian Jordan Gavaris (Sea of Trees) plays Sarah’s artist foster brother, Felix Dawkins.
Jordan Gavaris (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Soap star Dylan Bruce plays ex-mercenary Dylan Bruce, who was Beth Childs’ boyfriend.
Better Call Saul’s Michael Mando plays Sarah’s drug-dealing ex boyfriend Vic Schmidt.
Maria Doyle Kennedy (Downton Abbey, The Tudors) plays Siobhan Sadler, Sarah and Felix’s foster mother.
When does Orphan Black return?
The show’s cast and producers decided to end the series after season five. Executive producer and co-creator Graeme Manson told Variety: “We think that it’s better to cancel yourself than to get cancelled, than to peter out.”
Recently, it was announced that an audiobook called Orphan Black: The Next Chapter has been greenlit and will take place eight years after the events in the last season. Series star Tatiana Maslany has signed on to the project.
There have also been rumours that AMC is developing a new series set in the Orphan Black universe.
Where is Orphan Black set?
Manson told Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail the setting is “meant to be Generica”, a decision director John Fawcett said was due in part to not wanting “to say we’re American and alienate the Canadians, or say we’re Canadian and alienate the Americans”.
That said, the show does include blatant nods to Canada, from the cars’ number plates to Toronto-area place names used in the script. In one season five episode, a character also specifically mentions they are in Canada.
Decisions about setting were also influenced by Orphan Black’s financing. Protagonist Sarah speaks with a British accent because the BBC, a co-producer, requested that the lead character be from the UK, which was then incorporated into the narrative.
Where was Orphan Black filmed?
(John Hryniuk/AFP/Getty Images)
Orphan Black was shot on location in Toronto, Canada. Despite the creators’ insistence that the show’s setting is ambiguous, many shots in the series include Toronto’s distinctive CN Tower. In one episode, Sarah is tasked with tracking a car on what is clearly a map of Toronto.