Magazine article Mother Jones

Game of Clones

Magazine article Mother Jones

Game of Clones

Article excerpt

WHEN I TRY TO TELL my friends about Orphan Black, I get excited and things come out garbled: "It's about clones, but it's also a mystery.The clones get sick, and there's this race for a cure, but also a quest to find out where they come from and why-and there are these crazy pop-science researchers who modify their own bodies. The military might be involved." More calmly put, the bbc drama, which returns in April for a fourth season, is a complex futuristic thriller with themes ranging from self-identity and scientific ethics to religious extremism. But perhaps the show's greatest strength is the reproductive rights storyline that has won it acclaim as a ferni nist triumph-even though it was created by a couple of guys.-Becca Andrews

Mother Jones: How did you and co-creator John Fawcett get to a series about cloned humans?

Graeme Manson: We were looking for a highconcept feature film idea. We'd been friends 20 years. John's a horror and sci-fi person. I was into sci-fi, drama, and comedy. Our tastes intersected at black comedy. John pitched the opening scene, where a girl gets off a train, looks across the tracks, sees her double, and in that moment the double commits suicide.That was all we had! It was like a foursentence pitch, and we took it from there. John got juiced by the technical aspects of shooting a single actor playing multiple roles. I found the psychological implications really rich: What happens if we clone humans? How do you feel about your genetic identicals- after 50 years, do you not even care that you bump into them in the supermarket?

MJ: Where do you stand on the ethics of cloning?

GM: We're a sci-fi show, so we naturally look at the more conspiratorial aspects of science. We think about what could be misused or is ethically complex, crispr technology, gene editing, germline editing:These are sciences that could change the face of mankind. We're such irrepressible creatures! If you give us a technology, if you put a gun in a human being's hand, sooner or later they're gonna squeeze the trigger. …

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