One month from tomorrow (April 14) Orphan Black returns with its Season Four premiere. To celebrate, please welcome our newest NGN Contributing Writer Meera, who’s written a little something about why this show means so much to her.
Every so often we come across a book, film, or TV show that leaves us in awe. One such TV show for me is Orphan Black, the Canadian TV show based on human cloning. It kicks off with protagonist Sarah Manning witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her (Beth Childs). Sarah steals Beth’s wallet with the hope of taking up Beth’s identity to fix her messy life. This is where the mystery unfolds and chaos ensues. Sarah learns she is a clone, she meets her clone sisters (Cosima Niehaus, Alison Hendrix, and Helena), and a series of adventures unfold—which I am not going to get into because I’d rather you watch the show yourself. I am, however, going to get into why this show is so special to me and why it is so important for today’s day and age.
First, the show’s representation of women is, above all, realistic. The show has many female characters—from the clone sisters to scientists to mothers. The women are not just stereotypical “strong independent women;” they are that and so much more. We get to see the lengths a mother is willing to go to protect her child. We discover irresponsible women who change entirely when it is their child in danger. We’re introduced to women who get anxious and turn to alcohol and pills, and eventually go through rehab. We meet smart women who are excited by the tiniest scientific discoveries. We see women who love food, women who smoke pot, women who have been broken, and women who have been abandoned and are dealing with the repercussions of that. We watch women fall in love, fall out of love, and even crave love. We see women with heels, with dresses, and with sneakers and leather jackets. We see women in control, we see them being controlled, we see them take control, and we see them lose control. We uncover the vulnerabilities, the sacrifice, and all the other facets of these female characters that are present in women of all ages, and that is just beautiful.
Today we’re kicking off the one-week countdown to Once Upon a Time’s 100th episode with a guest post by longtime NGN Family member and passionate Oncer, Shauna! Stay tuned for plenty more OUAT-related content this week here at NGN as we gear up for one of our favorite shows hitting such an important milestone!
Shauna here—longtime Nerdy Girl Notes commenter, first time poster. I am coming to you from above the comment box because I wanted to do something special to honor Once Upon a Time’s 100th episode. And since my love of OUAT and my love of this site will always be intertwined, I am very thankful to Katie for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. So without further ado, here’s my love letter to a show and a fandom that have meant more to me than I ever could have imagined:
When I first sat down to watch the pilot in 2011, I had no idea of the journey I was about to embark on. I loved the pilot, and I immediately saw myself in Emma: tough as nails on the outside, but beneath the surface, a lonely woman longing for connections and love in her life. That wasn’t necessarily the place I was at in my life when I saw the pilot, but I had been there in the past. While I might not know what it’s like to grow up an orphan, I do know loneliness. While I can never even imagine the heartbreak and guilt that comes from having to give a child away, I do know what it’s like to give up a chance to be close to someone because I felt I couldn’t handle the responsibility. My first love didn’t abandon me and send me to jail for their crime, but I do know what it’s like to be betrayed and so scared to love again that I stopped trying altogether. How exactly Emma became the woman we saw in the pilot is a unique tale, just like everyone has their own unique origin story, but the scars left from her past were easy to relate to. That connection to Emma was there on Day One, and it’s just as strong now, if not more so, 99 episodes later.
While watching Emma’s journey toward openness over the seasons and writing about it on this site, I have also become more open. When I look back, I realize it’s now much easier for me to express my feelings than it was back in 2011. I used to be someone who would cry whenever she talked about her feelings. Someone who kept her fears and insecurities so close to her chest that, when they did come out, it was a flood of emotion that could not be stopped. I used to be a person who tended to focus on the negative while ignoring the positive. A cynic, not a supporter. But I can now (usually) talk about my feelings more regularly without an emotional breakdown. I tell people how much they mean to me. I have become more empathetic and patient. I have become more articulate and a better writer. I try to look for the good in others rather than trying to find their flaws. I can be encouraging and supportive of friends and family without feeling insecure about my own worth. That’s not to say I don’t fall back into those negative habits, but it happens much less frequently now. I believe all of this is evident in my own writing and interactions with people on this site over the past few years, and I believe it is a testament to the uniquely positive tone Katie has created here at NGN.