‘Orphan Black’ — Robots, Conspiracies And Interpretations

(Caution: this article may contain spoilers for Season 1-3 of Orphan Black)

The simple description of Orphan Black is that it’s the story of a woman who discovers she’s a clone. But for anyone who’s watched the first two seasons of the show, it’s so much more complicated than that.

As Sarah Manning, the main character, digs deeper into the mystery behind her life and the origins of the clones, she finds more questions than answers and a conspiracy that doesn’t seem to have an end.

This has left Orphan Black wide open to interpretation. The New Yorker looks at how the history of genetic science and the reactions to it relate to the fictional world of Orphan Black. But the interesting question that always pops up around the debate about cloning and DNA manipulation is the morality of it.

The Atlantic compares the clones to robots. Not the robots we would think of today, with gears and computer circuitry, but more like the very human-like replicants of the Blade Runner universe. The ultimate conundrum, especially with the Project LEDA clones, is that they were given life and then put out into the world to create their own life. And yet their DNA is patented and so, they are, for all intents and purposes, owned. Not something anyone would question if they are actually machines of some variety, but if they’re human, it’s unethical on a large scale. Are they human if they were a product of a science experiment and not a natural process? Heady concepts, to be sure.

But even coming down to earth a little, another intriguing thing about Orphan Black is that, at least until this coming season, it was all about women. (Male clones were introduced at the end of last season and are set to factor into the third season a lot more). And portraying multiple clones with distinctly different perspectives and personalities has made Orphan Black‘s talented actress, Tatiana Maslany, a star. When Maslany talked with Refinery29, she told them the show didn’t plan to be a feminist banner.

“When we set out to do it, I think it was just a compelling story to us. There was no political bent behind it; there was no intent to change people’s perspectives or anything. I think that’s why it’s so exciting that it’s sort of taken on this other life. It really has informed the way we move forward. We think about it constantly in terms of how characters move through the world, how we perceive them, how we defend them, and the kinds of stories we want to tell… I’m a huge feminist, and believe in it so strongly and feel so proud that that’s the kind of stories we ended up telling. That response from audiences, critics and fans has been really bolstering and exciting.”

Need a quick recap before season three starts? Check out Inquisitr’s primer. And be sure to tune in to BBC America for the premiere on Saturday, April 18 at 9 p.m.

[Image via BBC America]