Thursday, April 23, 2015

Clone Club Unite: Feminists Talk TV

It's no lie nor secret that I adore everything about Orphan Black. And now it's back for another season, I thought we needed to sit down, feminist to feminist, and talk about why Orphan Black is the show everybody should be watching. I should say, incase of any spoilers for the first two seasons (although I'll try not to), click off this now and go watch it. Ready? Ok. 

Orphan Black is a science fiction fantasy series which follows Sarah Manning, an orphan from England who witnesses the suicide of cop, Beth Childs, who also appears to be her double. If that wasn't creepy enough, germans, scientists and 'soccer-moms' turn to up to create the beauty that is Orphan Black and the world of clones. 

Now that it has graced our screens for the third season, I thought I'd give you some of my feminist reasons why Orphan Black is both a trailblazer and ultimate TV gold.

1. Meet Tatiana Maslany

If it wasn't for the pure talent of Maslany, Orphan Black would not be. Not only does she play S1 lead Sarah Manning, she also plays her 'sisters;' Beth, Alison, Helena, Cosima and many more. And while the supporting characters of Mrs S, Felix, Donnie and Paul are hugely important, Tatiana carries Orphan Black on her shoulders. Not only does Maslany play an array of strong, female, kickass feminist characters, she also is one and defends OB's right to be from female point of view, no exceptions made. 

"The characters [in Orphan Black] all have a complexity to them, an unapologetic individuality. They’re not physically superhuman and emotionless and without flaws. Having a strong female character doesn’t mean she’s beyond suffering and fragility. There’s a fearlessness. That to me is strong writing for women. It defies gender." (AdWeek)

2. Sorry the bechdel what?

The Bechdel Test is hugely important with modern day media consumption, and  "not only does orphan black eat the bechdel test for breakfast lunch and dinner but it abysmally fails the reverse bechdel test
there are literally like three instances in the entire series where two men speak to each other about something other than a woman
what more reason do you need to watch this f*****g show." (I wish I knew who actually said this, but it was on Tumblr!) 

Watching shows with female representation is SO important, especially females interacting with each other. Which nicely brings us to my third reason you should be watching Orphan Black. 

3. Female Relationships 

Family, sisterhood and female friendships are hugely important in day to day life. Having somebody else who goes through the same or similar life experiences as you impacts how you deal with things on a dramatic level. OB blows female relationships out of the water, often only having the female characters trusting each other (with the exception of Felix.) And because of this, the girls are united rather than set against each other (as we saw in S1) like the majority of big TV shows which give their characters room for doubt and betrayal within already strong relationships.  

4. Representation 

Not only does OB score points for being the feminist show of the decade, it also scores pretty high of the representation of diversity too. Throughout the series, we see different aspects of "minority" groups being represented, as well as having two huge story lines for both gay and lesbian characters. Sexuality is seen as a small detail in OB, there is no 'coming out' seen. It is not a big deal. And that's why I love it. Not only do the creative team represent different volumes, spectrums or identities through their characters, they also use their dialogue. 

5. Identity 

And lastly, and most importantly, I love Orphan Black because of the political arguments about identity for women. Women are often viewed by some as interchangeable, and throughout the series this is explored. The idea of the female characters being property, an experiment or the same is a running theme throughout the series and a huge plot drive for character development: "Just one, I'm a few, no family, too. Who am I?" What's also great about OB is the exploration of the female body, the ability to reproduce and how they are controlled and reduced to both. 

And for fear of saying too much, I'm leaving it here. Orphan Black is having a feminist, female-empowerment, political calling all of its own, while still being hilarious, sexy, complete tense, action packed and thrilling. One strong female character is often seen as golden TV time, Orphan Black has given you nine. 

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