Orphan Black is a weird, ridiculous, and ridiculously amazing BBC America & Space series about a group of clones struggling to determine their origins and to survive. It's a show about identity, family, ownership, science, individuality, but most of all it's a showcase for lead actress Tatiana Maslany. Playing most of the show's main characters, often in the same scene, she carries the series - and then some.
After the first season aired, some reviews claimed she must be in nearly all of the show. I decided to test that claim. But it's not enough to know what percent of the time any Tatiana Maslany character is on screen - that number wouldn't account for her multiple-clone scenes. Instead, since there are often two, or three, or even four Maslanys in a scene, I counted each of her character's screen time individually and added it up.
How does one actress show up for 50 minutes in a 42 minute episode? Well, there's at least one Tatiana Maslany in nearly every scene of the series. But going back to the show's ridiculousness, sometimes there are four. And sometimes those four characters, all played by the same actress, are having a dance party (season 2, episode 10).
A few characters, like Katja (RIP), appear only briefly, but others, like Sarah and Alison, would count as a main character by any measure. When all those clones are layered on top of each other the result is one dense, overlapping, clone-filled series timeline.
Though their DNA may not vary, each clone has a unique screen time pattern. Sarah, the unofficial leader of the group, is the only character to appear in every episode of the series. She's in 40 percent of the show, over 13 hours in total. Alison and Cosima each clock in at about five hours, while Helena and Rachel have had about three hours of scenes each.
Over five seasons, Maslany has played at least three characters in every episode.