Orphan Black is a science fiction television series that stars Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, a woman who steals the identity of a suicide victim who looks exactly like her. The series raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning and its impact on issues of personal identity.
The show premiered at WonderCon in Anaheim, California on March 29, 2013. The television premiere of the first 10-episode season was on March 30, 2013. On May 2, 2013 BBC America renewed Orphan Black for a 10-episode second season to air in 2014. On July
10, 2014, BBC America renewed Orphan Black for a third season!
The nine known clones were born within seven weeks of each other, with Cosima Niehaus the oldest, born on March 9, 1984. Aryanna Giordano is the youngest, born on April 28. This makes the clones, including the principle character Sarah Manning, 28 years old at the series start, which was in the show's timeline is November 23, 2012. If they had a normal gestation period of nine months before they were born that would indicate the April births were conceived in July 1983 and the March births in June 1983.
Sarah is the fifth oldest, born on March 15, six days after Cosima, two days after Beth Childs. Two other older clones are deceased. Kira, her biological daughter, was born sometime in 2005 when Sarah was around 21 years old. Of the deaths it was established within the series that two have known causes: Beth Childs committed suicide by walking into a path of an on coming train, and Katja Obinger was shot in the head by Helena from a distance with a high-powered rifle. The cause of the other deaths are factually unknown, but it was established within the series that Helena, apparently at the behest of a man that is taking care of her-possibly her monitor-was hunting the other clones to kill them because she believed that they were not "real".
The clones are of varying personalities and were raised in various nations around the world, apparently as an controlled experiment in how much they are alike and/or different despite being genetically identical in a study of the "nature vs. nurture" schools of thought, in which it is debated if genetics, in part at least, determine how humans develop, or if environmental factors are the deciding factors in how humans become functioning, or malfunctioning, members of society.
To report on the development of the clones throughout their lives to the powers that be who are controlling the experiment, the clones unknown to them, are assigned monitors, people close to the lives of the clones, including loved ones. They are in turn unaware that they are part of a larger experiment-the "Big Picture"-with other clones who also have monitors or even that the person they are monitoring is a clone; only to monitor and report on the person hence the double blind method of study. At least two monitors have been revealed. Others are suspected but not confirmed, others are totally unknown.
It is possible that each clone, during the development of their lives have multiple monitors, possibly in serial fashion when for social reasons one monitor cannot be with his/her assigned charge any longer, such as clone going off to college or to a new career in another state/country and so that monitor probably could not follow without looking suspicious. For instance Cosima recently met Delphine, her monitor, at the University of Minnesota where they are students at and romantically involved. It is likely Cosima had a previous one(s) unknown to her since not to have one during periods in her life would leave gaps in the development study.
Production & Location:
Orphan Black was initially developed at the Canadian Film Centre by Graeme Manson. Bell Media announced on June 12, 2012 that they had commissioned a 10 episode season of Orphan Black that would be produced by Temple Street Productions and distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide.
On June 26, 2012 BBC America announced that they had picked up the show in the U.S. The casting of Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany as the lead was announced on September 17, 2012. The rest of the principal cast was announced in late October 2012 as production began in Toronto for the first season. On February 7, 2013 it was announced that Matt Frewer had been cast as an edgy philosophical professor, Dr. Leekie, and Évelyne Brochu was cast as a graduate student in molecular and cellular biology. Filming of season 1 was scheduled to be completed by February 12, 2013.
Maslany created different music playlists to listen to, to help her differentiate the various characters she portrays. When filming scenes in which Maslany has multiple parts, cameras were mounted on dollies which would replicate movement, thereby allowing for more action in scenes where she interacts with herself.
Orphan Black is shot on-location in Toronto, Canada. Although some U.S. critics have suggested that the city shown is a "no-name" city that stands in for New York—in the first episode, the police use NYPD mugs (although if that is the case that the police force is NYPD, the equipment shown that should be NYPD is incorrect, particularly the police patrol cars, which are black and white with "Police" in bold letters on the side, instead of the white with blue trim and lettering including "NYPD" on the side of the cars that is proper NYPD livery)-the show reveals clues about its Canadian location: cars sport Ontario license plates, the multi-colored money, and a plane ticket that is displayed in the pilot episode clearly identifies Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
In the first episode at the train station, there is a voice announcing the next train to New York City (meaning the station was not already in NYC), and when Sarah meets with Felix in the bar she references selling cocaine on Bay Street, which is Toronto's financial district. In the second episode, Sarah goes to a suburban area called Scarborough, which could be the former city of Scarborough, now a part of the Greater Toronto Area, or Scarborough, New York, a hamlet in Briarcliff Manor in Westchester County, New York, and in the third episode the police make a reference to Parkdale, a neighborhood in Toronto.
Season 2 (2014):
The show was renewed for a second season of 10 episodes on May 2, 2013. The second season will air in 2014. Perry Simon, the General Manager of Channels at BBC Worldwide America said: "We’re excited to commission a second season from the talented team of Graeme, John and Temple Street Productions, and we can’t wait to see who Tatiana shows up as in season two."