This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"'How? What? How?' Three excellent questions."
11973 members | you are not logged in | 12 July 2020


June 02 2014

"Orphan Black: a worthy heir to Buffy's crown." The Guardian compares the Canadian sci-fi show to "Buffy," with a little on "Dollhouse."

I can see where they are coming from but don't fully agree. Orphan Black is aimed at adults while the early years of Buffy where clearly all teenage metaphor.

Both go into a fair share of feminist allegory but Orphan Black is more realistic. It's a sci-fi show but very grounded you almost believe it could be real. Buffy's narrative employs magic to much for that.

OB and Buffy both employ humor but OB is more black/morbid. comedy.
I haven't seen Orphan Black yet but the show that reminds me of Buffy every episode is Sleepy Hollow. The premise sounds like a joke, the storylines are all crazy and apocalyptic, and it's clever and funny and always grounded in emotion. Abbie has a lot of Buffy-like qualities, too.
@ Sunfire-OB is worth checking out for Tatiana Maslany's performance alone. Imagine getting Faith, Drusilla and Lilah all out of one actress and you'll understand just some of her range.

The show does character drama very well, rivaling Buffy and Lost in the best ways in that department.
I just finished 2.06 & 2.07 of OB and I find myself agreeing with the article. The show is very good at developing all of the characters, even seemingly minor players, like Rick, Donnie and even Kyra. Buffy excelled at stories beyond Buffy and this show is doing that. It's rich and complex and funny. And dark.

It's a good Buffy contender.

I will add that Sleepy Hollow also is great and exudes Buffy qualities.
I like OB, but it's much more Dollhouse than Buffy IMO.
I quite like Orphan Black but I feel this season it's getting bogged down with the plot.
Buffy is a fantasy show, Dollhouse is a science fiction show, Orphan Black is science fiction show.
I feel that Orphan Black is basically a reversal of the premise of Dollhouse. There is no centralized big bad corporation, yet (I'm not caught up on season two, so maybe that changes), but there is a small group of scientist making lives for clones, without those lives actually being independent. It's as if they are dolls playing roles.

They achieve self-consciousness. Echo and the Dolls in Dollhouse had a similar story, but their achievement of self-consciousness seemed more gradual, while in Orphan Black it was shocking with a suicide leading to the revelation.

Then they try to fight the sinister scientists or the evil corporation or both.

As for similarities with Buffy, I can't really think of any details, except both shows featuring strong female characters. Buffy did that. I could say comedy as well, but comedy is so ubiquitous in television today that if that similarity wasn't there it'd be really weird. Still, OB made light of cutting off fingers, while Buffy made light of splitting a man-demon-preacher into two, plus wearing a ribcage as a hat. But Buffy had seven seasons, who knows how many OB will get. I envision five.

Also OB is very heavily female, because of the lead actor playing more roles than one. Even Buffy wasn't that skewed towards female characters. I guess it's good to have a show where the males seem marginal.
I know I've mentioned it before, but In the Flesh is my current Buffy. It's far more deliberately paced than Buffy, but the use of supernatural allegory is just as strong, its handle on human emotion is painfully perfect and it has a very dark sense of humour about itself. Plus, queer characters.

I do love Orphan Black, but ITF is the only show in recent years that has genuinely caused me to think about its characters nonstop in between episodes.
I'm loving Orphan Black, and it does, very easily, become an obsession. The wait for season three is going to be horrible. (Thanks for recommendations for Sleepy Hollow and In The Flesh.)

Part of the fun of Orphan Black is that the writers take such delight in their twists and turns. Nothing is predictable. It crosses genres as well as any Whedon show, and the dialog is up to Whedon standards, especially from Felix.

Tatiana Maslany deserves all the praise she gets, including "best actor working on television today." From psychotic to science geek to punk rocker to soccer mom to cop to corporate director, you forget that they're all her. It's especially fun to see one of her characters impersonating another. And Helena's table manners are, shall we say, "exquisite."
Orphan Black is one of those shows I should be expected to like, but don't really. Battlestar Galactica was like that too.
Orphan Black is my current favorite show. I would also equate it with Dollhouse more than with Buffy.

Both OB and In the Flesh are adult, allegorical tales. The first is clearly a feminist and anti-corporate story, especially with the notion that all the women are the property of one corporation. In the Flesh is an allegory about racism and homophobia.

As for Sleepy Hollow, it does have Buffyesque qualities, in that it has magical/supernatural fantasy stories, and good-looking, sharp-tongued characters.

It feels like we're in another fantasy/sci-fi golden age, with movies and TV shows that are actually good, and imbued with deeper meaning. I don't think I've ever watched so many shows at once since I was a kid.
One difference is that OB is pretty much all one arc, with climaxes or twists to the many subplots popping up here and there. Each Buffy ep was a little play of its own, leading to the endless attempts to rank them best to worst. Also, there's not much time in OB for long strategy conferences.

The mixing of tense/funny is great and a definite link to Buffy greatness, but they depend on layers of mystery (like Lost) and new pairings of characters to keep it fresh, rather than the progressive development of the characters that was so important in BtVS.
The only thing I've noticed about Orphan Black is that I sometimes forget about it. I absolutely love it when I watch it, but I'll forget that there's an episode I haven't seen for days and it doesn't bother me at all. Obviously that's entirely a personal thing, but it's probably the only thing keeping it from being in the top tier of shows I watch. It's really stellar otherwise.

In the Flesh has been so refreshing. I love seeing a trope/genre that is so typically dominated by alpha male stereotypes used to explore homophobia/biphobia and mental illness. Even when it sometimes gets too on the nose, I love everything about it.
Funny to see this post. I have been thinking exactly this for weeks now: that OB is the new Buffy. Like no other show since, OB seems like a direct descendant of Buffy: a show about a young woman who is a very much a superhero, but also very much a human, with her own flaws and personal issues. She didn't choose to be at the center of these world-changing, life-and-death conflicts, and she'd probably like nothing better than to just be normal, but she was born into it. And as a result, her friends and family, who she'd risk her life to protect, will always be at risk along with her. Buffy's conflicts arise out of the mystical world, while OB's arise out of the equally mysterious world of science (fiction). And Sarah has her own little gang of scoobies that in many respects mirrors Buffy's. Felix/Xander anyone? Cosima/Willow? Allison/Cordelia? Mrs. S/Giles? Helena/Faith? And of course, Sarah/Buffy...

And yet OB is no Buffy rip-off, but has it's own awesomely original story, mythology, characters and themes. I still like Buffy better, but OB is in my mind a worthy successor. Maybe the only worthy successor.

Sorry, I know this sounds a bit effusive but this topic really resonated with me.
There are very few non-Whedon shows that have come close to resonating with me as much as Buffy, and Orphan Black is one of them. It has a very different feel and the humour is darker than Buffy's - it reminds me of that time The Master told a vampire 'You've got something in your eye', only The Master is the show and the vampire is the audience. But the characters are where I draw a comparison, because of how real they feel. I love every single main character. I wish we could hang out with them more, and that's one place where I wish we could get more leisurely episodes for character development, like on Buffy.

I disagree with everything that article says about Dollhouse. I love both Dollhouse and Orphan Black because they're about identity, a theme which is really important to me. I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to see something deal with clones like Orphan Black does (I'm a twin, so I project way too many of my own issues onto it, weird as that sounds. Anyone who dismisses science fiction as irrelevant to the real world is clueless.)
Squishy,it's like you took the thoughts right out of my head, like we're twin seestra's :D

It's exactly as you said:
"Like no other show since, OB seems like a direct descendant of Buffy: a show about a young woman who is a very much a superhero, but also very much a human, with her own flaws and personal issues."

Actually I wanted to copy and paste everything you said because you said it so perfectly. While Orphan Black is not a Buffy rip-off at all, I honestly think without Buffy there would be no Orphan Black. And while Buffy will always be my number one show forever, Orphan Black is the first show to completely fill that Buffy-shaped hole in my heart.

Don't get me wrong, I love Dollhouse,(which yes, can you imagine Tatiana Maslany as Echo etc?), Agents of Shield, etc, and I love Sleepy Hollow a lot too - and oh, Lost Girl has definite Buffy influence all over the place but back to Orphan Black; this is the first show since Buffy that sticks with me all the time.
For me, OB is a quotable show, it isn't afraid to smack you in the head more than once in pretty much every episode and is the only show I can think of that surprises me. There are very few shows I'm able to watch without figuring out what's coming next.
They aren't afraid to go there,go anywhere really.

The amazingness of Tatiana Maslany, the way she is able to slide so easily from one character to the next blows my mind. I've never seen an actor have so much chemistry with herself.
She's so good at what she does that when I watched the Orphan Black special (trying to keep this spoiler free) with Will Wheaton for a minute there I was wondering where the other actors were. :D

[ edited by Sunfire on 2014-06-04 02:35 ]
I agree Squishy, except it's gotta be Helena/Dru!

I's see a small parallel between Faith/Angie they both exist to annoy Buffy/Sarah but if the circumstances were slightly different they'd be friends. So far they haven't had a rooftop brawel yet so it's not an exact comparison. I could even argue Sarah is more Faith like and Angie's intentions are more honorable and therefore closer to Buffy's.
Um, does anyone know why the font changed like this? I'm not doing anything to it.
If I had to guess, I'd say a poster opened a bold tag in their comment and didn't close it. Might be able to fix it by putting a closing tag in my comment.

Let's see!

ETA: It worked!

[ edited by Knuckleball on 2014-06-03 21:52 ]
I guess it's good to have a show where the males seem marginal.

Sure. Diversity can work like that sometimes. I think the issue is when someone persistently can't see themselves as characters all the time. That's when you have the issue. If you are Native American, good luck finding yourself in pop culture.

I don't really see myself in any of the OB characters and that's ok. I have other options.

I will say though, that's where OB as Buffy falls flat for me. Buffy had its politics but at its core it tried to be representative in its villains and heroes. Part of the problem is in the premise of the show of OB, but Buffy seemed extremely universal in a way that OB cast/characters/premise make it hard to match.
This is such a weird topic, because everyone took away something different from Buffy. I liked Buffy for its supernatural shenanigans and fun mix of action and comedy. To me, the only show that has really come close to capturing that same formula is Supernatural. Grimm and Sleepy Hollow kind of play in that same sandbox too, but Sleep Hollow seems more campy and over the top than Buffy or Angel ever where, and Grimm is a show I've seen about a season and a half of and it seems to take itself a bit more seriously than Buffy did. They are all good shows though, but Supernatural has more of a Buffy feel to me than the others.

Neither one of those shows I just mentioned is nearly as good as Buffy and Angel were though

I like Orphan Black, but I don't really get a Buffy vibe from it at all. It's a Sci Fi show for one thing, and it doesn't really have similar themes or metaphors to Buffy

But you know, we live in a culture the is obsessed with comparisons and generalizations, so it's not surprising to see people trying to call Orphan Black the next Buffy. People are ALWAYS looking for the next Buffy
Word, bloodyrocker sestra! Love it when people agree with me. Dusk, good call on the Helena/Dru parallel.

Oh and I have to agree that Tatyana is the best f@cking actor on TV.
Fun with HTML! All fixed now, carry on. Thanks Knuckleball.
Based on this recommendation, I watched the first episode last night. It was okay, but it didn't really grab me. How do regular viewers feel that it builds in later episodes?
@Jason_M_Bryant-You need to give it until at least episode 3. That is when Tatiana starts to show her real acting chops and the first 2 eps are just basic setup. Ep 4 is your first taste of Tatiana playing a clone *pretending to be another clone* which is a real neat trick that is a big part of why she is so awesome.

My personal favorite of the season is episode 6 "Variations Under Domestication", the one with the potluck party. It's really funny but also develops some of the characters really well. Some think it's too much farce but I've been to a few such parties in real life, this one just had clone shenanigans added in. It's one of the reasons I say the show almost feels real and the characters have depth to rival Buffy and Lost in the best ways. (Not to discredit the season finale (ep 10), it's great but too spoiler-y to talk about).
I haven't watch OB but I have heard so many good things about it I know I will have to see it. Buffy was such a great show but I don't feel the "need" to find the "next Buffy". Each show is unique and I enjoy that. Once Buffy left the air, the show that filled the gapping hole left by Buffy was Supernatural. Although it is different from Buffy, Supernatural does have very good writing (this last season is not that great but the majority of the episodes for all the other seasons are very good)and the production value on Supernatural is way better than Buffy ever had. Plus a handsome cast; however, I would never want to live in the Supernatural universe and meet Sam & Dean - women don't last long in that universe, they tend to die young.

People have mentioned Sleepy Hollow, IMO it looks great and the lead actors are excellent but the writing is very patchy. I feel the same about Grimm although Grimm has been improving. IMO neither of them come near the quality of Supernatural's writing, although Sleepy Hollow does have excellent production value.
I strongly disagree with pretty much everything they said on Dollhouse (some things are true, but it improves throughout the show...). And I really don't understand the comparison between OB & Dollhouse.

However, I have to agree that OB is some kind of a new Buffy. I have great hopes about this show. I watched season 1 like four times already, and I discovered it only on early december... Quotable, funny and really mindblowing, I was waiting for a show like that for so long !

Plus, the cast is amazing. And loves Buffy. Like really. Jordan Gavaris (Felix) is currently marathoning Buffy with a friend (according to its twitter account) and quotes Whedon (or Whedonverse) in many, many interviews.

OB totally feels like a Whedonverse thing-y.
Angel&Faith, I agree with you there. Buffy had everything, so it’s such a personal thing which other series Buffy fans gravitate to. You’ve got the other sci-fi/fantasy series, and then you’ve got ones like Veronica Mars, and either can be compared to Buffy.

‘Variations Under Domestication’ (episode six) is my favourite episode too so far. I love how you can be terrified for the characters’ lives in some episodes, but then there’s a potluck party and it’s one of the most stressful and intense hours of the series.

Oh, and on the subject of Tatiana Maslany’s acting, the other day I was talking to someone about the four characters she played in one particular episode. The person replied, ‘But there were only three in this one.’ I had to remind them that the fourth character was the same actress as the other three.
I can't all those similarites between OB* and Buffy.

Ok, Tatiana Maslany was the best actress in a tv seris last year and the first of her show was very good, except some scientific misteps (one company placing a trade mark inside an illegal speciemen DNA, when most of the countries in the world have laws agaisnt human cloning, and those would be the only who would hold the patent laws). However the scond season has being awfull, without any trace of a plausible plot.

The only recent work I saw that reminds of Buffy was the very criticized movie adaptation of Vampire Academy. The producers were able to cut some problems of the original book, toning down Rose's romance, leting her be more funny, making Lissa more likeable and lightnig some clues of her powers, important in the future books. It is a shame that with so bad revenue the sequels are probably deader than the Strigoi.
I posted this because it sounded interesting -- I had never seen the show. After watching two episodes, I ordered Season 1 from Amazon.
Welcome to Clone Club Suzie! 3 episodes of S2 are still to air but if you catch up fast might be able to watch the finale on the 21st with the rest of us and then endure a 9 month wait for S3!

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home