Orphan Black (2013–2017)
Frequently Asked Questions
It is set and filmed in Toronto, Canada, this is why cars sport Ontario license plates, there is multi-coloured money, and a plane ticket that is displayed in the pilot episode clearly identifies Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Alison lives in Scarborough, the eastern district of Toronto, which Sarah refers to as "practically local". In the third episode, the night skyline shown around 13 minutes in is Toronto's, and the stolen motorcycle turns up in Parkdale, a neighborhood in southwestern Toronto. Furthermore, Sarah refers to a 'Bay Street', which is Toronto's financial district.
The police cars, station and mugs just say, "Police Department" and have almost the Toronto Police crest. The detectives use NYPD-style badges that say "Police Detective" (Beth's also says, "N.J."). The uniformed police have LAPD-style badges that say "Metropolitan Police". A close-up of Art's business card shows a phone number with area code 416, which is Toronto's area code.
In the first episode, Sarah arrives at the fictional "Huxley Station", where a loudspeaker announces that trains to New York will be departing from platform B, which would indicate the show is not set in New York.
Cosima Niehaus is in Toronto in the first episodes, but thereafter is seen communicating via Skype from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (U of M), a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States.
Mrs. S' driver license shows a Toronto address.
Tatiana Maslany, who plays Sarah and the clones, is Canadian, as are the majority of the principal actors. While she and a few others are from western Canada, the majority of the cast is from Ontario and Quebec. Jordan Gavaris who plays Felix, for example, is from Ontario. Evelyne Brochu, who plays Delphine, is from Quebec. A very few cast members are from the United States and the British Isles. The actress who plays Mrs. S was born in Dublin, Ireland.
Creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson originally planned that all of the clones would be exactly identical in both their looks and personalities and therefore they would tell each other apart by colored code names. Hence the name Orphan Black was created.
Sarah is an orphan. See this conversation between Mrs. S and Sarah:
Mrs S: "There were rumors about the kids we were hiding - the ones that came in Carlton's pipeline - like you. Children in the black." Sarah: "What do you mean exactly 'in the black'?" Mrs. S: "You know, undocumented, outside the system."
It can also refer to the fact that the clone project to which all of them belong to is considered an 'orphan'. Leekie explained in Season 2 that the research, files and documentation that held all of the genetic history of the clones was lost during a fire. Hence, the project became an Orphan (a product without the steps that it took to be built).
Leekie: Twenty years ago, there was a fire in one of our labs. Several scientists died, reams of data lost, and the original genome was destroyed.
Cosima: So all of this secrecy around the original genome is because it doesn't exist?
Leekie: Yes. The entire project is essentially an orphan. We lost your prehistory, Cosima, and, with it, all record of several synthetic sequences embedded in your DNA.
Most of the Project Leda clones, such as Sarah, Alison, and Helena, are heterosexual. But Cosima is gay. Some fans are confused by this since all the clones share identical DNA. However, sexual orientation is not determined by simple genetics. This can be seen in the fact that identical twins, who share the exact same DNA, do not necessarily have the same sexual orientation. Instead, sexuality seems to be the result of complex "epigenetics" where certain genes are "switched" on or off during fetal development. While all the sisters share DNA, they were carried by different mothers and so would show subtle deviations.