Orphan Black presents several forms of mothers – none of which is particularly stereotypical. Kris and Stephanie talk about these depictions of motherhood and why it’s the narrative (hot) glue that holds the first season together.
Different kinds of mothers
- Biological (Sarah), foster (Mrs. S), adoptive (Alison), birth/surrogate (Amelia)
- One is never portrayed as being “better” than the others.
- It’s uncommon for motherhood to be presented so many ways in one television show.
- Sarah – Kira is Sarah’s main motivator. Caring for Kira proves to be common ground for Sarah and Mrs. S. Motherhood seems to be the thing that allows Sarah to form a real relationship with Alison, also.
- Mrs. S – protective, but not necessarily motherly. She obviously cares for Sarah, Felix, and Kira, but they all refer to her as “Mrs. S”, signifying a slightly more formal and less familial relationship.
- Alison – the most stereotypical mother, with her crafting and coaching soccer and ice skating. She is fiercely protective of her children.
- Amelia – while she was initially acting as a surrogate for financial reasons, she became protective of Sarah and Helena upon learning that they were part of an experiment.
- Has a complicated relationship/interaction with Amelia. She seems to be confused and wants answers but fatally stabs her before she gets any.
- Reacts strongly to both Kira and the letters from Kira that she finds in Sarah’s jacket. It could be about Helena’s lost childhood or about the things that Tomas told her about being “the original”.
- Orphan Black seems to equate being a mother with being deeply, fiercely protective. All the mothers are shown prioritizing the children’s safety.
- The one thing Clone Club always agrees on: nobody messes with the kids (especially Kira). The only person Cosima seems to be protective of is Kira.
This episode was partially inspired by the excellent essay “Orphan Black, Motherhood, and Humanity” by Dr She Bloggo. We highly recommend checking it out!
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