Orphan Black: Goodbye to Five Seasons of Beautiful Sci-Fi

Orphan Black is ending today, and I’m torn between sadness that it’s going to end when I need a story about female empowerment more than ever and happiness that it happened at all, and that they knew not to try and push it past the time it should end. A lot of great shows overstay their welcome and drag out longer than they should, past the point of being good and into the land of being made for the sake of being made. It makes me really happy that Orphan Black isn’t doing that. They’re wrapping up the story, and while I’ll inevitably be sad it’s over, I’ll be happy that it was amazing while it lasted.

Orphan Black, my little Canadian sci-fi drama that could have been terrible, but was amazing instead. It was so nice to see a show filmed in Toronto that admitted that it was set in Canada – I practically cheered when Felix said it outright. It was obvious to anyone from Ontario that it was Canadian. Everything from Alison’s home in Scarborough to the money to the trillium driver’s licenses were easily identifiable. With how many shows are filmed in Toronto but that pretend to be some American city or the other, it was nice to finally have something that was Canadian.

It’s not hugely popular. It’s no The Walking Dead, or anything like that. It’s got a hugely devoted fanbase, but not a broad one. But it’s a story about women’s right to bodily autonomy. It’s about deeply flawed people that make choices both good and bad, that are far from perfect, but still sympathetic and fundamentally decent. It’s about nature vs nurture and found families. It’s about earning your happy ending and refusing to give up no matter what. It’s about how broken, traumatized, depressed people are still worthy of love and happiness. It’s a celebration of what it means to be human – one of the key questions of science fiction – and for that, it means so much to me and always will.

There are issues that I have with Orphan Black, same as with everything, and I’m vocal about those issues, but there’s so much heart in everything to do with the show, that it’s easy to still enjoy it despite those issues. Like the characters it depicts, the show is flawed, but it’s trying to be better. It’s so strange to think that tonight will be the last episode before it’s over. Five seasons. So many characters and arcs.

The characters have always been my favourite part of the show – they’re all so different and multifaceted. They all have very interesting and unique dynamics with each other. That’s even more impressive when half the characters are played by one woman, and those characters interact with each other without ever sounding the same. This is done well enough that I often forget that they’re all one person. Making that seem real requires very skilled visual effects people and a spectacular lead actress. It was a technical masterpiece as well as beautifully written and wonderfully acted. I’m going to miss this so much.

It’s time to say goodbye to these characters that have spent years being unashamedly themselves – real, flawed, not always likeable, but oh so human. It’s great to know that I’ll be able to look back not with disappointment because it’s a show that had more seasons than it should have and declined in quality, or because it got cancelled before it could wrap up the story that it meant to tell, but a little wistful happiness because I’ll miss it, but it ran just as long as it should have. Thank you, Orphan Black. It’s been amazing.

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