It’s no coincidence that this is the second BBC America show to fall under the “I Will Watch Anything” umbrella; like many a Brit in the US, BBC America knows that their charming accents can take them a long way with your average dumb American, so they put out shows that aren’t written that well, but oh! how that crappy dialogue is pronounced.
Orphan Black isn’t as bad as Ripper Street, if only because the premise, involving a bunch of clones finding each other, forces one actor, Tatiana Maslany, to play several roles, often acting opposite herself. Thankfully, she’s surprisingly deft, given the potential for Parent Trap-esque hackery. The show is set in the present day, which means it’s the kind of sci-fi that hypothesizes about our current shady underworld of tech and biological enhancements instead of invents a dystopia that allows for Cylons and such. In other words, there are the kind of cringe-worthy depictions of cyber-goth-whatevers, as if everyone invested in the world of high-tech body modification and science looked like an attendee at a San Francisco Steampunk party or staff at the Halloween Adventure store in the village.
The show isn’t made in the UK—like Torchwood (and 99% of the television sci-fi out there today, it seems), the show is a Canadian collaboration, subtly set in Toronto—and neither are the actors, which means most of the brit accents are as fake as the wigs worn by the star (and the tail sported by another character, the details of which I can’t bring myself to get into). They aren’t fully horrible though, and some of the characters, like the lead clone, Sarah Manning and her foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris, another canuck playing a Brit, with Degrassi on his resume), are intriguing. Still, it’s a hard premise to swallow, made less plausible by a lot of far-fetched scenarios involving clones swapping identities, cops ignoring evidence, and, oh yeah, scientists with tails.
The show is fun despite being ridiculous, which is why I tune in, but I’m the first to admit it’s... not good. The lead actress is not not good, but even if she can convince me she’s playing five separate women, she can’t con me into thinking this show isn’t stupid, no matter what accent she takes on.