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I recently just finished watching the second seasons of two of my very most favourite shows: Orphan Black and Orange is the New Black. Both very different, but both mesmerising. (Coincidentally, they both have an IMDb rating of 8.5.)

 

Orphan Black is a sci-fi thriller about a woman who discovers she’s a clone. Before you think that it’s been done before—not like this. The characterisation of the clones is superb. Tatiana Maslany is an acting phenomenon, playing (to date) twelve different clones, at least five of them regularly. Although they are played by the same person, not once do you get the characters confused, so clearly are they depicted by the flawless Maslany (unless it’s one clone pretending to be another clone—it happens, trust me; these scenarios may also have made me love Maslany even more. Sometimes one clone might have to step in for another, and we know what’s happening, which makes it even more entertaining to watch a streetwise Londoner pretend to be an uptight American soccer mom). She holds her body differently, speaks differently, acts differently for each of the different clones she plays. If you watch Orphan Black for anything, watch it for her.

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(Above: Alison fixing Sarah-acting-as-Alison.)

The plot, as well, is entrancing. At turns edge-of-your-seat anxiety, and at others heartbreakingly tragic, and at yet others painfully funny. The atmospheres are handled masterfully, and everything ties into the greater mystery of how and why the clones came to be. Season two did not disappoint, picking up where season one left off, but steadily introducing even more minor mysteries that are actually part of the larger web. It mixes the stuff of science-fiction dreams with Greek mythology seamlessly, and is an incredible experience to be taken along for the ride. A little bit of violence, but nothing unwarranted (I don’t think). Highly recommended.

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(Above: Tatiana Maslany as Cosima comforting herself as Sarah.)

Orange is the New Black, on the other hand, is a drama set in a women’s prison. The first season followed, primarily, Piper Chapman, as she was sentenced guilty for a crime she committed ten years ago. I think we were meant to feel sorry for her, but I could never connect with her. However, apart from the early episodes of each season, each episode follows a ‘minor’ character, delving into their backstory and showing who they were before they were imprisoned, and why they ended up here.

Image(“V” trying to give The Fault in our Stars—a book about kids with terminal cancer—to Miss Rosa, a woman dying from cancer.)

The characterisation in this show, too, is phenomenal. Characters I’d dismissed as just quirky background noise suddenly became clear, and they had a voice. It was amazing to learn more about these characters, and they were presented magnificently (I think all of the actresses and actors in this show deserve an award). I think what was most satisfying though was that at the end of both seasons, all that you learnt about the characters tied in to the finale’s climax. The last scenes of the second season are still quite vivid in my mind (I think I’m still processing, although I finished watching it on Thursday!). I can’t recommend this show enough, although the sex (and sexual references) is quite gratuitous, so if you don’t like that, I’d steer away. There is violence, but it didn’t seem over the top or gratuitous (to me). Definitely, definitely recommend.

(Below, to leave you: Morello trying to describe Toy Story from her…unique…perspective.)

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So that’s what I’ve been doing when I should have been studying for my Modernism exam tomorrow. Whoops. Also, I’ve been cast as Mr. Teavee in a local production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s going to be a lot of fun, but I have to put on an American accent (not a forte of mine). What have you guys been up to? Has anyone else seen Orphan Black or Orange is the New Black? What do you think of them?