14 April 2015
If you have not see it, I highly recommend this show. I’m writing about it here on this blog because the show is about genetically identical females – much like Marmorkrebs.
There are so many striking things about this show. The performance of lead actress Tatiana Maslany is astonishing. But as a biologist, I was struck by how sophisticated the portrayal of the science is. The show is fortunate to have a very good scientific consultant, Cosima Herter, who shares a first name with one of the lead characters.
The show’s take on clones stands in a stark contrast to many other depictions of clones in pop culture. Whereas most stories emphasize the similarities of the clones, Orphan Black runs the opposite way, and hammers away at the differences of the women in the show. The individual characterization is so complete and so well thought through and so consistent that you continually forget that it is all performed by one person. (Two if you count the body double Kathryn Alexandre).
It reminded me of my post from several years ago about how one of the great things about Marmorkrebs was that you could see the differences between sisters that started with the same identical genetic materials.
As I thought about it, another recent show also emphasized that clones were individuals: Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. As the series progressed, it gave the clone troopers names. Different haircuts. Different insignia. In short, the clones stopped being interchangeable cannon fodder and became distinct characters.
Do these shows reflect a larger cultural shift in our thinking about how genetics affects our identities? Too soon to tell, but I find the different portrayals of genetically identical individuals fascinating.
A new season of Orphan Black starts this weekend. And I can’t wait.
How Marmorkrebs can make the world a better place
Meet the real Cosima, Orphan Black's science consultant: The Crazy Science Of Orphan Black
The real life science behind Orphan Black
The many faces of Tatiana Maslany
Meet The Woman (Besides Tatiana Maslany) Who Plays Every Single "Orphan Black" Clone