They share an existential quandary, but not all clones are the same. Genetic replicas, in fact, have proven to be a rich metaphor in popular culture for more than half a century. They can be stand-ins for our fears of freedom being taken from us, a test case for the limits of science, or a comedic device. With the second season of Orphan Black premiering on Saturday, a look at the best clones in pop culture shows we’ll keep going back to them again and again.
The Stepford Wives (1975)
The feminist movement was well under way when this movie, based on the Ira Levin novel, arrived in theatres in 1975. Its depiction of the ideal wife – subservient to her husband, with little to no interests of her own other than shopping and keeping house – was a deft use of cloning to explore gender politics.
Cloning is usually darkly philosophical when it comes up in pop culture, but Harold Ramis used it as the premise of this screwball comedy from 1996, the same year Dolly the cloned sheep was born. Michael Keaton stars as a man who makes several clones of himself to make life easier – one to take the kids to school, one to go to work, one to do household chores etc. Zany? Oh, you bet it was zany.
Jurassic Park (1993)
What if we could clone dinosaurs? That is essentially the question asked by the Michael Crichton novel, published in 1990, and the Steven Spielberg adaptation, released in 1993. As with so many stories of this kind since Icarus, there’s a strong warning here of what happens when science flies too close to the sun (you get eaten by a T. Rex), but Spielberg avoided heavy moralizing in what became the highest-grossing film up to that time.