Orphan Black: The Battle Over the Female Body

orphan-black-endAs with so many things dealing with contemporary pop culture, I came late to the genre-bending cult phenomenon of Orphan Black, now in its third season. I saw BBC America was offering a marathon of the first two seasons before the beginning of the third, and knowing I’d want something to watch once my grades were posted, I decided to record the marathon and the new season to see what it was all about.

As I noted on FB, “[a]fter the first episode of Orphan Black I was like, “hmmm.” After second episode I was intrigued. Now, six episodes in, I am hooked. I’m getting up early tomorrow so we can watch some more episodes before my husband goes to work!”

I’ve now binge watched my way through seasons 1 and 2, and I highly recommend the show if you’re not already a viewer. Broadly speaking, the show is about issues of nature versus nurture, and agency and autonomy as a woman; it’s a show about violence and dehumanization; it’s about families and relationships, trust and honesty; it’s about ownership and individuality, corporate control of genetics, women’s bodies and reproductive abilities. These are all important concerns, and at a time when issues surrounding women’s bodies and reproductive rights are so frequently taken out of our hands — more more often than not, by the government or religious fanatics — this is an increasingly relevant discussion.

The show’s also a conspiracy thriller about women who are the subjects of an illegal human cloning experiment who have to struggle with how that affects their lives and identities; it’s about the battle between these women, the Old World Proletheans who are religious extremists who believe cloning is an abomination, the New World Proletheans who are also religious extremists who believe synthetic biology should be done in God’s name and will, and the Dyad Institute, a government group which is devoted to research for the advancement of biotechnology a.k.a clones, as they battle to controlling it.

It’s also a show told from a woman’s point of view about women being confident and comfortable in their own skin and knowing that their body and their decisions are theirs to control, and about breaking the stereotypes of the kinds of characters we’re used to seeing on TV. Women are the main characters; they’re not the accessories.

It’s also hilarious, thrilling, and surprising, with fascinating characters, twisted plots, and well-placed bits of comedy.

There’s much more to say about the show, but I will stop here for now. I have more episodes to watch.

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