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The BBC America production of "Orphan Black" ran for five seasons with the final season bringing the show to a close for showrunners Graeme Manson and John Fawcett. The show was a critical and rating success for BBC America and was praised by many critics for the moral stance it took about the use of human cloning in society.
"Orphan Black" starts its globe-trotting adventure in London, England with Sarah Manning conducting a series of crimes in the English capital where she is struggling to stay alive because of various issues. The character of Sarah makes her way to a Tube station where she finds herself face to face with a woman who looks like her identical twin. Sarah is shocked by seeing another person who looks exactly like her and becomes even more traumatized when her doppelganger steps in front of a train to kill herself.
Sarah thinks quickly and takes the bag of the other woman, Beth as she hopes to achieve a number of things by bringing her own life to an end and taking the role of the other woman. Sarah has a history of living in foster homes and has lost her own daughter to governmental care, which she hopes to bring to a close by taking on the identity of the apparently wealthy, Beth. Calling her foster brother, Felix, Sarah explains the situation and tells him they can live a happy, problem-free life if he is willing to identify Beth as Sarah and allow her the time to complete her con.
Sarah believes the events at the Tube station give her the perfect way to escape the life she is currently living which have seen her own daughter cared for by foster mother, Mrs. S. Sarah believes taking the money of Beth will allow her to pay off Mrs. S and escape into the world with her daughter and Felix without the issues caused by her drug dealer boyfriend, Victor.
Sarah believes she has had a stroke of good fortune when she is able to withdraw $75,000 from the bank account of Beth to start her new life. After withdrawing the money, Sarah discovers Beth is a police detective under investigation for shooting a suspect and her dreams of escape are suddenly a little harder to achieve. Beth's partner in the police force throws another spanner in the works by breaking into her car and stealing the money she has withdrawn for her own future. The mystery of the woman who looks like Sarah is further complicated by another woman who is a perfect match for her, Katja who is under surveillance by a sniper soon after she makes cn=ontact with Sarah.
"Orphan Black" was born by creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett who came together to create the science fiction show which spanned the globe in its vision. Graeme Manson is a Canadian screenwriter who began his career with "Cube" before going on to write for a series of TV shows. Among the shows, Manson has written for are "The Killing" and "Being Erica. John Fawcett began his career as a director working on music videos for a number of popular bands in the late-1990s and early 2000s. He broke into the mainstream movie and TV production with the 2000 horror, "Ginger Snaps" and has directed episodes of 'Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Being Erica."
Tatiana Maslany plays multiple roles in "Orphan Black" as she portrays Sarah and the many clones of her found throughout the series. Maslany has many links to the creators of "Orphan Black" as she appeared in the TV show, "Being Erica" and the sequel to the John Fawcett-directed horror movie, "Ginger Snaps." The Canadian actress has appeared in many critically-acclaimed productions including "Eastern Promises" and "Nativity."
The filming of each episode of "Orphan Black" which ran for five seasons totaling 50 episodes was time-consuming and difficult for all members of the crew to complete. The main obstacle for filming in Ontario, Canada was the issue of the multiple takes needed to capture each reaction of an interaction involving the clones played by Tatiana Maslany. Each shot had to be completed on a number of occasions to ensure it matched perfectly. Despite the globe-trotting nature of the show, each episode was filmed in Canada with many locations left ambiguous to make sure viewers all over the world could identify with the story and characters.
The Canadian locations of "Orphan Black" meant many directors used on the series were from the North American nation. These included T.J. Scott who had taken over the "Ginger Snaps" franchise from John Fawcett after he had completed the first installment.
"Orphan Black" was a co-production between BBC America, BBC Worldwide, and the Canadian channel, Space. The show was produced by Bell Media and Temple Street Productions with the streaming rights to the show being purchased by Amazon Prime soon after the first season was completed.
Throughout its production, "Orphan Black" found universal acclaim for its themes and for the quality of the acting, particularly by Maslany. The Canadian actress was nominated for four Primetime Emmy's for her role in "Orphan Black" after a media backlash when she was not nominated for her role in the first season. Maslany eventually won the Emmy for her many roles in "Orphan Black" in 2016. The first two seasons received an excellent response from critics with Rotten Tomatoes giving the show a rating above 95 percent followed by a slight dip in quality for the third season which reached a critical rating in the mid-80s. The final two seasons of "Orphan Black" returned to success with the show receiving a critical rating in the mid to high-90s as the story came to a close.
Instead of using an extra to play the other unseen versions of the characters played by Tatjana Maslany in the show, Graeme Manson and John Fawcett auditioned actresses to aid Maslany in her role. Kathryn Alexandre plays the part of the other clones in the series and has been praised by Maslany for her work in aiding the award-winning actress. To prepare for the change to each character in "Orphan Black," Tatjana Maslany would create playlists to help her get into character for her various roles and would develop dance moves to reflect the different personalities she was portraying.