Out of all the Leda clones on Orphan Black, Alison Hendrix (Tatiana Maslany) makes a most unexpected and unusual impression; easily underestimated and pigeonholed for her appearance and socioeconomic status. Alison’s various roles/monikers are simple enough: mother, wife, soccer coach (and keep in mind alcoholic, adulterer, drug peddler and occasional murderer), but why does her storyline seem to be separate from the clone intrigue? Is Alison the comic relief?
Keeping Alison's story arc separate provides viewers with some relief from the darker tones of the other clones' story lines. It also makes Alison seem more human and, as a mother of two children living in the suburbs, more accessible to many viewers. Alison is often presented in her suburban home, especially the garage, on the soccer field, or in her minivan, with her blubbering husband, Donnie (Kristian Bruun), not far behind. Her location is interesting to note considering her other sister clones are usually in an urban setting, even imprisoned in labs and military bases, which contrasts vividly to the relative safety of Alison's suburbia. As separate as Alison’s story may initially appear, the clone intrigue is weaved into her narrative.
Alison is an enjoyable and funny character. Her odd sayings and quirkiness can be seen as light relief amongst the darkness; it’s obvious her presence is meant to elicit laughter. But by solely viewing her as the entertainment, viewers can overlook her complexity, charm, vulnerability, and unexpected resolve. These, after all, are what make Alison shine. Noam Cohen of The Observer shares this train of thought: “t is always tempting to treat Alison’s life, so separate from the intrigue surrounding her sisters, as a kind of comic relief sideshow. But her scenes are always so cleverly and subtly written that it’s a mistake to do so; her world is always reflecting, distorting or underlining what’s happening in the rest of the show.” Alison offers a compelling perspective as to how a mother and wife struggling for normalcy deals with an extraordinary set of circumstances. She’s juggling more than just traffic, dinner, and her kids’ soccer games; she’s a clone, and her battle for her own safety and survival and that of her family’s will not be easily won, but it helps to have a few laughs on the way.