Other Ten Percent 4/23/14

Apr 23 2014

Hey so let me give you a handy sentence you can use to sound cool when talking about TV because everybody’s going to be saying it in a few months. “Tatiana Maslany is giving the most amazing performance on TV.” Here, I’ll even help you out with the hard part: tot-tee-ahna mahs-lah-nee. Why is everybody going to be saying that? Because from what I can see of the press push this is the season a lot of people are actually going to bother to watch Orphan Black instead of just me and Patton Oswalt and on Orphan Black Tatiana Maslany is giving the most amazing performance on TV. She plays the lead, all eight versions (so far) of her in a show about clones that is part sci-fi thriller, part cop show, part serial killer drama, part suburban critique and part feminist action show. She’s all of those parts. Sometimes she’s one of those parts having to cross over and pretend to be a natural fit in one of those other parts. She does an amazing job doing all of those things. Around episode 4 or 5 you genuinely start to forget it’s the same person playing all of these rolls. I found an interview asking her if the lead clone Sarah’s male love interest Paul or the lesbian scientist clone Cosmia’s female love interest Delphine is a better kisser and it genuinely hadn’t occurred to me that she was in a position to answer that question. She’s so good you guys. She’s so good I’ve decided to be a 17 year old again and actually get angry that genre fiction basically never has a chance at the acting Emmy categories.
It’s probably good that Maslany is so fantastic though since it grounds Orphan Black while its plotting often threatens to careen over some sort of metaphorical plotting cliff, killing all involved. I read an interview where the show’s creator says they take plotting inspiration from Breaking Bad and it shows. Both can often feel like events are spiraling out of control in ways the protagonist couldn’t possibly manage just to show how cool it is when the protagonist manages to rein shit in. Of course this works better in the more realistic universe of Breaking Bad where there are clearly established rules for what can and can’t happen. That tone can read more like “Jesus, what the fuck is even happening?” when you’re dealing with biotech conspiracies and clones and some weird religious cult.
That’s not to say the show is bad or that Maslany is the only reason to watch it (Sarah’s gay foster brother Felix easily qualifies as another amazing reason, especially once he starts hanging out with the other clones) it’s just to say that in order to go from a good show to a great show there are a few aspects and a few actors that need to get on her level.
Still though, give her all the Emmys, Jesus Christ.
If you want to get started watching Orphan Black The first season is a relatively short 10 episodes, all available for free on Amazon Prime (though tragically not Netflix as of my last check) and if you hadn’t caught the news that the second season has started the premiere is available for free on BBC America’s Website

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