Orphan Black is a Marvel
I consume a lot of television (which is a problem I’m trying to work out) and in doing so I’ve increasingly become aware that there is too much good television out there. This isn’t news to television devotees, but I bring this up because it has become an internal dilemma to stay up to date with the most talked about shows on the air. I’ve done my best to quit the shows that are just average, with minimal long-term satisfaction (all of those cop procedurals for instance). I’ve given new shows ample opportunities to wow me, with some staying on my DVR pass and others being forgotten completely. I’m a scripted television nutcase, and the one show currently keeping my insanity in check is BBC America’s Orphan Black.
Orphan Black, which is now in its second season, was one of my favorite shows of 2013 as well as one of the most talked about. It’s a Canadian produced science fiction series starring the superb Tatiana Maslany. Her role on the show is critical, since she plays several characters. It’s an amazing performance and the more I watch the show the more I forget that Maslany is playing all of these different roles, to perfection of course. It’s a shame she got snubbed at the Emmys; however, she did get nominated at The Golden Globes although she didn’t win. Even though I tune in to these award shows, I’m mostly over the resonance it brings to the mediums they are for. The people who nominate television shows can’t watch everything either, so it’s mostly irrelevant as a gage for what should be great television.
But Orphan Black is great television. It’s unfortunate that it’s on a cable network that isn’t necessarily eye popping. If anything the show has attracted people to BBC America and has given the network some relevance. What amazes me about this show, other than Maslany’s performance, is the ongoing clone conspiracy with layers on top of layers. Our main clone, Sarah Manning, is our entry point into the series after she witnesses someone who looks just like her (Beth Childs we later find out) walking in front of a train, committing suicide. It sets off a chain of events that will forever change Sarah’s life and everything that has preceded it. Without delving into too much plot, which will spoil everything for those of you who have not yet seen the show (and you should), everything escalates to a point where several clones that look like Sarah are introduced.
It’s truly a marvel to watch this show. It’s science fiction, but it’s not overly scientific to a point where the plot could be completely flipped on its head in a matter of seconds. It’s smart, funny and thrilling. Even though she got snubbed by more prevalent award shows like the aforementioned Emmys and Golden Globes, Maslany has received some personal accolades for her role including a TCA Award for Individual Achievement, a Critics’ Choice Best Dramatic Actress Award, the Young Hollywood Award for breakthrough performance and a Canadian Screen Actor Award for Best Performance in a Dramatic Role. It’s well deserving and I wouldn’t be surprised if she racks up more awards in the future.
Female Lead Characters
When I think about Orphan Black in terms of the current scripted television landscape, I think about how it’s one of the better female driven shows running. There are shows like Scandal, The Good Wife and Orange Is The New Black, which all of have fantastic female leads, but I would put Maslany’s performance up against all of the actresses on those shows. She’s carrying the load in this one and it needs to be known and appreciated now before the inevitable happens: She becomes a movie star.
Orphan Black airs Saturday’s at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America.