There’s a good chance you’ve heard quite a few people say Orphan Black is an amazing show and you should totally watch it. But you might not feel like you know enough about the plot or style of the series to find it worth trying out. Have no fear, because, while Orphan Black is certainly original, it has a lot of things in common with shows you might already enjoy, and we’ve got ten examples right here.
Before we get into the similarities, let’s talk about what in the world Orphan Black even is. It’s an awesome sci-fi drama that airs on BBC America and returns for a second season this Saturday at 9 PM ET. It’s about a young woman named Sarah Manning who discovers she’s one of several clones, the result of a secret experiment. All the clones are played by Tatiana Maslany. I think she’s reason enough to give the show a try. You’ll think you’re watching half a dozen different actresses, I swear.
If Tatiana’s stellar performance is not enough to convince you, though, go through this list and see if any of your favorites are on it; if so, chances are something about Orphan Black will appeal to you. If you already watch Orphan Black, look at this list the other way and find a new show to try out!
1. United States of Tara
Since I just mentioned how amazing Tatiana Maslany is at playing different people, it’s probably best to start off with this show, which features a similar performance from Toni Collette. She plays a wife and mother with dissociative identity disorder, which causes her to manifest different personalities. There are even moments when the personalities interact with each other. If that performance was what captured you on Tara, you’ll be blown away by Orphan Black.
If you loved this short-lived Joss Whedon show about an underground corporation that scientifically programs individuals with certain personalities to hire out to people, Orphan Black is likely to appeal to you. In addition to a sci-fi style, both shows deal with issues of morality and individuality and feature a strong female lead.
Another cult sci-fi series from Joss Whedon. One of the most beloved aspects of the show (and of Whedon shows in general) is its mix of drama and witty comedy. Orphan Black is really dark and very intense, but it’s also got plenty of lighthearted moments and entertaining characters. It also has a similar cult following, so if you like the danger involved in watching shows that might be canceled at any time, you’ll love it.
Orphan Black isn’t just a show about cloning; it also dabbles in the detective genre. The show begins with Sarah taking on the identity of one of her clones who has committed suicide. The woman is a police detective, so we spend a lot of time watching Sarah try to be convincing in that environment. The series also has a very sleek, modern, fast-paced, Sherlock-esque style, and there are a few British accents to enjoy.
The mystery involved in Orphan Black isn’t nearly as out-there or convoluted as Lost‘s. But if you enjoy piecing together strange TV puzzles, getting knocked over by WTF twists, and watching characters be manipulated by creepy organizations, give it a try.
If you love the intrigue and secrecy and backstabbing of Revenge but wish there was a little more sci-fi added in, Orphan Black could be right up your alley. Both shows feature heroines trying to move forward from troubled pasts and hiding or changing their true identities.
The similarity here should be pretty self-explanatory. In Ringer, Sarah Michelle Gellar plays twin sisters, one of whom takes on the other’s identity and discovers plenty of scandalous secrets. Clones pretending to be other clones happens all the time on Orphan Black, and it’s amazing to watch Tatiana Maslany make those complicated portrayals work.
8. The Walking Dead
This one might be more of a stretch, but if you’re attracted to the scientific aspects of this show’s zombie apocalypse story, as well as the concept of what makes people human or gives them identity, you’ll find that in Orphan Black as well. There are also quite a few gruesome moments, if you’re into gore.
Aaand speaking of gore… If you like your protagonists a bit morally ambiguous but ultimately likeable, Sarah Manning’s your girl. She does some questionable things, the first of course being stealing a dead woman’s identity. But as the show goes on you support her decisions and align yourself with her as a viewer, because she’s just so fabulous.
I mentioned already that a lot of Orphan Black involves taking on other people’s identities and keeping secrets, which makes it like a spy show in a way. Plus there’s another totally badass female character. Well, more than one, actually.