An Orphan Black Community
Saturday 9:00 PM on BBC America
(I just needed to pour out some shabby metaphysical questions covering a still boiling hot emotional mess. Sorry, so sloppy ^^)

It’s very late on a Sunday night, and I have finished catching up with Orphan Black earlier today. I decided to watch that show I knew naught about but attracted me still (a bit like Dollhouse before I fell madly in love with it :) in late June, and while I usually dislike marathoning shows (I feel it reduces the experience, makes me scattered, I don’t know…) I’ve basically watched the whole thing in less than 17 hours (sleep included).
I do need to get out one massive cerebral cloud it triggered for me ^^ and talk about it a bit because it’s an excellent show :-)

In case you’ve missed that train, I’m French, Paris born (though I insist I’ve nothing of the sophisticated beauteous clichés type, hopefully I’ve as less of the bad and bitchy ones :p), the point is not about me being a wino or liking stinky cheese but that I have a whole life (a lot of it happening here :p), an emotional, intellectual one..., in another language than my native one (that, and please don’t judge my grammar/vocabulary, educate me instead :-). This bit of wobbly introduction to apologise in advance because this rant? ... may feel like a whole bunch of way TMI.

What’s affected me so much I’m not sleeping until I got it out?

Cloning makes my brain tingle
I was around 12 or so when I first saw Eve (one of my favourite episodes from The X-Files) which was about the same time we learnt of Dolly and I was instantly curious of the subject as to me it seemed to be the most accomplished attempt at solving those universal questions that haunt our cores, like: how are we here?

Also? the 90's :-)

I grew up watching Working Girl so the idea of literally making it happen for ourselves is quite dizzying.
Sure to those who believe in a God (or two) those questions and their litters of dilemmas are kept at bay, but to us pagans, atheists, agnostics... life regularly comes in to tickle us in that anxious place. You lose someone you love from a sudden disease, an accident, you get betrayed by someone you loved, you discover your parents have lied to you for the better part of your existence... and you just know, you sense with all your being that despite society, species, family, identity... you are alone. And if you are so alone, so individual, unique, you don’t know where you’re going when you’re dead and much less where you’ve come from; how do you even keep it together?



I’ll spare you the gory details of what in my life brought me to think and respond how I do but in a nutshell I was very inadequate as a little girl. I’m tiny so I didn’t really impress physically, my ethnic features didn’t match my education which made other kids sort of xenophobic, and I was considered above average smart by my teachers which ended up crushing all my hopes to fit in (and was wrong! I’m the happiest daft bint :-). So when I first was invited to consider the mad idea that through the solid and rational means of science, one could be brought to be two, my mind dove head first into the sea of hopes it represented. What if you could firmly not be so alone?



Would my clone be my best friend? Would we have a mystic connection? Mind reading? Would I be for the first time truly, organically understood by another being? If so, we’d be more like one in two bodies instead of two of one kind. Unless my clone is “me”, except *very* different. Like a twin, with the extra richness of having an altogether different social, cultural... context. Phew, I think I’ve given myself ‘a’ definition for clone :p

Cloning is usually presented as a way to try and exist both “more” (forever if you throw in cryogenic conservation and nanobots) and “better” (until you begin spitting blood that is), but life remains equally batshit cray cray and tough for everyone, so what are the actual chances for improvement? Let’s face it, the Tatianas’ lives are as messed up as any of ours, but these clones stick together, including when it comes to accept their divergences of opinions. They are all dysfunctional but as a group they still function better than families who yet have built themselves together over the years. So are we sacrificing the individual identity for a stronger community? Giving the ultimate one for the team? No ’I’, no ’me’?
Sociology within the genes just kicked in (and a migraine).

As Cosima reminds us “nature Vs nurture”; or rather nature *and* nurture, cause nurture will bloody happen!
Even Kyle XY gets out of his tube and meets the world, so why would we even think of cloning when the result is plain unpredictable because of nurturing’s fickleness? Is cloning unethical because it’s putting the miracle of life back in its place or is it just fruitless as it does nothing nature doesn’t already do on its own (experiment and adapt)? Is it on the contrary super ethical because it’s not so much about creating life than it is about directing its basic elements to form a new viable whole, just ensuring we use a recipe we know is good?
Getting to know Rachel will shed light on whether Neolutionists have a solid case but as of now, who cares what’s ethical when it’s morally so damageable? Who cares that you improve the social and genetic standards of a being when you generate a double dose of “who the hell am I? What am I here for?” at their core?

Where does belonging end and where does dissolution begin? (that sort of wide scale communion is Pisces porn, and well, some of us in the zodiac, though mutable, love our privacy, thank you very much :p)



We do it for food, why not thoughts?

Seriously, look at our food. Do you appreciate industrial pastries as much as homemade ones? (think well and remember I’m French before you answer :p)

Society itself with all its norms and prejudices is just as conforming and unethical as willingly producing two people with identical karyotypes. We may as well make sure what comes out of the wombs is fit for what’s outside. The question is, just because we have created this society, does it mean we are better suited than nature to make us adapt so we can keep up with it? Maybe the best way is for us to hold society back a bit by mentally/emotionally resisting it a little?
Cause if not, and we prevent nature from designing us fitter to endure this from the womb, we may all turn out as badly as the Eves.
Sure, if we repeat the gene pool *and* the social context, we increase the chances to produce ‘cup-people’ but aren’t we already halfway there by confining entire races to starving corners of the earth?

What I’m poorly grasping at here is, is this really a matter of science (fiction) or are these questions a simple human reality?
Are the clones independent individuals, stronger from their very controlled and designed birth, or are they exceptionally fragile and dysfunctional creatures because they all are the various psychological/emotional parts of an original? Is duplicating the cells, dividing the soul (if yielding any)? By duplicating the flesh, do you just split the ego? Cause it seems Rachel could be the very opposite of Helena, it’s the cavemen Vs the astronauts all over again ^^

If we try to reinforce humanity as a whole instead of focusing on people, aren’t we going to become like Apple products? Good for trash because of one tiny damaged piece? Because we will only be able to function as a smooth whole? Are we binding our circle? Is cloning a work towards making the world one giant Brookfarm? :p



Scientific realism or religion induced diplomacy, the mainstream vibe about clones is you may mess with biology but physics, and I mean Newton’s 3rd law of motion, rules:
For every strength there is a weakness. Clones are bright, they are emotionally fragile; they are fit and beautiful, they fall mysteriously ill and/or can’t reproduce.

They are genetically identical but you can tell them apart because they are marked and also because of developments usually attributed to genes that here have to be understood as contextual incidences?
Like, would Helena still be left-handed if she had not been the Church baby? Is there a link between her predictions, her link to Sarah and Kira’s predictions? Is Cosima’s eyesight a true ‘problem’ or is she subconsciously compensating that way, the same way Alison does with being an uptight bundle of nerves, for a common emotional weakness? I’m not launching an actual debate on what is determined genetically here as I am honestly wondering about our potential for inflexion and the impact of duplication on that.


And me? Lol I began learning English in school at 11 (with our infamously shitty language training system), no one around me spoke English, I created/sought most of my source material, I literally taught myself and so I chose what was more pleasant for me: telly, films, people... Am I then a more pleasant/authentic person in English than I am in French for having a life experience in this language that I actually controlled and chose? Or am I just happier in this language because no one can put an exact finger on how neurotic I am (I tend to observe we do get away with a *lot* as non natives around these parts :p)?
Did I duplicate myself? Is schizophrenia (NB: I am not saying adapting your behaviour to various context is in any way, shape, or form, schizophrenia, just making an analogy based on a popular derogative use of the term ;) a form of proto self-cloning, just non-genetic?



What’s a soul anyway? Anima, breath, energy... is any fatal/seriously disabling weakness, a lack of metaphorical glue to hold the biological pieces together, the price to pay for making a replica of an otherwise perfectly pleasant and functional human being?
Not as a divine tribute because you acted as if you were the tenant yourself, but just because while trying to recreate your perfect cupcake, you missed out on half the ingredients by involving just the finished product and not summoning the 2 whole and (hopefully) functional participants who created it in the first place?
I’m all for single parents and gay couples nurturing children but artificial hermaphroditism? Maybe you’re pushing your luck, science :p
Can the ‘soul’ be summed up to the intention (whether human: 2 people in love, wanting a child, or godly: one old sport up there going “this irresponsible lot will reproduce and that bastard shall have it tough”) behind the making? Or is it battled for once you’re walking around?




Orphan Black tickles this myriad of questions very actively because all the clones are literally adorable.
As far as fiction characters go, you simply cannot doubt they’re whole and have a soul. Yet they all are severely dysfunctional, or about to be, in one way or another. We all are dysfunctional (or at least potentially so, no one is born safe from a poor childhood), is the clones’ dysfunction a consequence of being ‘synthetic’ or just the ineluctable outcome of being human?
By toying with those notions this show has me contemplate my own absence of reality. Am I a unique snowflake or do I just look like no one I know?
Who’s a more legitimate being? Orphan Black’s clones or the Dollhouse’s actives? What makes us? What elements determine we are in the run for the claim to a soul and an identity and mostly: is it innate or something we can gain? Can we lose it too? Can a clone rise up to an original human being (we know an Alpha can become a Beta again lol)?
Am I someone because I was born on this side of the planet in a country with a good social security, what do people infallibly waking up at dawn to wreck their health controlling what goes on on an assembly line think of cloning?

You would be right in telling me I have serious brain issues #oops :p. I do have a sort of wheel up there that turns for no reason and produces nothing but words... but tis very enjoyable that this show takes care of its sci-fi and thriller plot so well, that tis so neatly, coherently, and intelligently written, that it leaves me all this space to search my metaphysical guts while I am captivated by an active 43 minutes :-)


Tatiana Maslany finally appeared to me, O joy :-)

As I said, I knew zero about Orphan Black before watching, except that it rested heavily on Tatiana Maslany and to me she was only a voice (Eastern Promises 2007, David Cronenberg), but one that got to my heart, wrenched my guts and soothed my brain (no spoiler but the ending of that film is one poignant moment, such weight, beautiful, great Cronenberg right there :-) so I went into this, happy and calm, and deliciously open-minded. How beautifully overwhelming was it to discover that the woman behind the voice is the quintessence of what the most noble form of acting is to me, and that this show basically is my favourite episode of the X-Files meets Dollhouse? Very :-)

I have always, very roughly, divided actors into 2 categories: exposition (when actors are just rad at emoting, like Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a favourite performance of mine, because he just effortlessly exudes the character from his eyes, beautiful) and composition (like, let’s stick to my example, Di Caprio in the same film, who renders mentally ill Arnie with huge physical changes). Of course every actor is required to do both but they usually have a knack for one mostly. Thing is, sometimes a part is subtle and multiple, especially if it’s a good one, well written and here it’s a show, so it’s the ultimate challenge, keep the multiple subtleties going. Well it seems piece of cake for Tatiana. She physically inhabits each clone enough so you can identify them even when they portray one another and remains just, emotionally, that you don’t feel she’s doing A feeling emotion B.
*This* is an actress, a bloody good one. She’s no easy affected mannerism or automatic setting for each emotions, no cute tosh, everything is justified, done as naturally as if you or I were tidying up around the flat. She acts without putting on an act. Respect. and <3 :-)

In a way the clones are just sides of one coin, I can relate to all of them and I probably appear that differently to people (if I judge from the reactions) and so do many people. But we never try lol Tatiana Maslany’s work is as wrought out and subtly mastered as the finest dancer’s, it’s the art of rendering, as naturally as reflex, and spontaneously, a motion that’s entirely designed, in both space and time, *and* through an emotion that fits the specific history of the character within the trigger for that emotion. Science may bring us clone for realsies one day, but this girl? She gives life :-)
(and she gives me hope my sign doesn’t condemn me to being a bonkers neurotic but can allow for actually exploiting that inner multiplicity to some good, thank you Virgo sister :p)



And while I’m at it, a note to Canada:
Dear Canada, you and I go a long way back... you’ve always been my favourite of all the places I’ve never been to. I wanted to move to you until... I don’t know when I actually stopped being active about considering moving abroad, you may not be entirely safe :p I love you for apparently being a bigger Switzerland and mostly Anglophone, your healthcare is inspiring (and to a French that means something lol), you embody the joyous bilingual mess that occurs in my brain, it seems every local wench can play folk guitar and sing beautifully, latin ballroom and dance in general has a freaking scene and everyone who’s been there reported you’re no shy food-wise. Throw in a worldwide reputation of having polite sweethearts for citizens and who wouldn’t be won over? ^^
Well that *is* a problem, Canada! I cannot afford such awesome loveliness, you’re too good for me, I sadly don’t play in your league. So, I’m asking as a non-psychopathic rejected lover, did you really have to rub it in my face by pulling Tatiana Maslany *and* Jordan Gavaris at once like this? (don't even get me started on the shooting location)
Well... since I have referred to your school system as the ‘US’ school system at least a dozen thousands time in my life because of so many US shows that are obviously shot in Canada but still speak of Harvard and shit, I’ll say we’re even for now (and by that I mean: do you forgive me? ^^).
But really, why must you molest me so? Unless you allow me plane tickets discounts on the grounds of “you’re a cool country where my native language is useful”, it would be nice of you to stop.


'None of noble sort would so offend a virgin, and extort a poor soul's patience, all to make your sport'



Optimisation

This show is so smart. 10 episodes? Orphan Black has the trick down, not one second wasted and not a doubt. Probably pushed by the fact it must cost a bunch (and I’m not talking about the collateral damage on the lead’s sleep), it gets bankable on every level. It does not waste time with tosh subplots and it does not either goes slow mo trying to hold some info to make a more sensational reveal later on. It does not feel formulaic, no clone here, that show, despite reverting to many things we’ve already seen, is as original as efficient.
The cultural factor also seems used for the best. I’m not familiar with other BBC America (co?)productions but even if I personally could have a tad more BBC in it, I find the blend very harmonious. I have all the landmarks decades of US telly made my brain appreciate, and as a European I still feel cosy around the piece (again, thank you Canada :-), concerned and... I feel it’s addressing me somehow :p



Finally

I think I’m in love, I mean I think no matter how many times I got cloned, each version of me would equally love this show for various reasons, whether for the acting, atmosphere, writing, characters, subject, reflexion... I see it lasting too ^^




The good news is after such logorrhoea I should be able to decently participate to the discussions (like a reasonable adult, with structured sentences an all..) by the time season 2 begins :p

...still, tis going to be a long time ^^


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