Orphan Black

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Orphan Black poster

Orphan Black is a sci-fi drama-thriller biopunk series that aired from 2013 to 2017.[1] It consists of five seasons, each having ten episodes. Individual episodes have a length between 40-45 minutes.

The series aired in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively. A fifth or final series/season has broadcast in 2017.

The action takes place in the present, using technology that is already available (or which can be imagined as being already available).

The series is available to view on Netflix (seasons 1 and 2) and Amazon Prime (season 1-3).

Months after show end, a Japanese remake named Orphan Black - 7 Genes was announced and first air on December 2, 2017.[2] Unlike it's Canadian/Western counterpart, It takes creative ways to change show dynamic includes tone down the Biopunk and even thriller elements in favoring more dramatic elements for its Japanese audience.

Transhumanist content

A number of characters belong to a community known as "Neolution", which states that it is a "human right" to be able to apply scientific knowledge to direct evolution. Some members of Neolution practice various degrees of body modification (for example, one of their members had a dog-like tail attached to his spine created from implying improved genetic engineering). The movement as a whole is particularly interested in genetic experiments, including human cloning.

Some other characters belong to a competing "Prolethean" community, with strong religious beliefs: they see genetic experimentation as an "abomination". Some Proletheans seek to destroy all human clones, whereas others are prepared to try to reuse that technology for their own purposes (which they view as divinely inspired).

Most characters belong to neither extreme and have to exist within a background of intrigue and conflict.

Other themes explored in the series include:

  • The extent to which character and identity is defined by genetics, as compared to nurture and environment
  • The patenting and ownership of genetic sequences
  • Options to use genetic experimentation to accelerate medical cures
  • Unintended side-effects of genetic experimentation
  • Options to use genetic experimentation for military purposes

Assessment/critical review

The series can be said to merit its high IMDb evaluation of 8.4 out of 10 (from over 50,000 votes):

  • There's little that's blatantly wrong about the science and technology in the series
  • The science and technology includes many contemporary elements (e.g. epigenetics, human chimeras)
  • The characters generally have interesting back-stories and at least some redeeming personal features
  • There are elements of comic humor alongside the drama and mystery of the main story
  • The surprise twists and turns of the story make sense when viewed in retrospect
  • The scenes set in Toronto and London provide an international flavor
  • The main actress (Tatiana Maslany) does an excellent job of portraying a wide range of different characters

External sources