With just eight episodes of Season 5 left to go, cult clone thriller Orphan Black is almost at the close. Star Tatiana Maslany, who plays Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Beth and handful of other characters, tries to explain why so fans – us included – have stuck with it until the end.
“I think the thing that we have heard the most, especially from young women, is that they haven’t seen this many complex female characters on one show before,” she says. “I think Orange is the New Black does it really well and there’s a lot of shows coming up now that are doing that, but I think that’s what so many people have kind of responded to.
“In a medium that is so populated by men and by women in very small side roles, as the girlfriend or the wife or the daughter, this puts the women right in the centre,” she continues. “Their stories are what we follow. Their dreams and their lives are what we follow. And I think that’s something that people have really responded to.”
As well as representing different types of women and female-driven stories, Orphan Black has also (rightfully) earnt a huge and enthusiastic response from the LGBTQ+ community.
“[It’s] because of characters like Cosima and Felix, who again, are central characters and not stereotypes,” Maslany explains. “One of the lines Cosima says is ‘my sexuality is not the most interesting thing about me.’ That, I think, is really the mandate of our show. These people are complex and every representation is complex… There’s no pandering. So I think that’s what people have responded to. And then luck too! Just hitting at the right time, I think.”
Understandably, after five years of work, saying goodbye to the story and the characters was pretty emotional. But according to Maslany, there was no time to feel like the cast and crew had reached the end of an era while they were shooting much of Season 5. That feeling came a little later, during the last two weeks of filming, and it hit pretty hard.
“I’m still kind of processing it,” she says. “It was really during sad those last two weeks because we were saying goodbye to either a character on our show or one of the clones. Every day there was somebody finishing and we would never see that person again, or I would never get to be that character again.
“It was really hard,” she laughs. “There were a lot of tears and the amazing thing that we were a part of was that the whole crew, everybody feels very invested in it, everyone felt very emotional. And the last night, when we finally wrapped, we were all crying and standing around in a circle and sort of talking to each other and there were speeches given… We wrapped at five thirty in the morning, and then most of us got on planes at ten AM.”
All fans of the show have their favourite clones that they will no doubt miss very deeply, and the same is true for Maslany.
“Alison was hard to say goodbye to because she was such a fun character,” she tells us. “I had never got to play somebody like that and I don’t think I ever will again. And then Sarah was really hard to say goodbye to because she was sort of the heartbeat of the show and the sort of default character. So yeah, really surreal, I haven’t quite processed it yet.”
Orphan Black is available to stream on Netflix UK now, with a new episode appearing weekly. Get all the latest sci-fi news with every issue of SciFiNow.