As “Doctor Who” went into the crapper this season (barely redeemed by a pretty good season finale) and “Game of Thrones” marched boldly on into mayhem and… wow, that was terrible: so where was the nerd’s heart to turn this spring?
For a rather tiny number of us, our lonely geek minds took to “Orphan Black,” a BBC America show that had its first season finale this weekend. How tiny a number? Well, episode eight of the ten-episode season had 170,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo. (The population of Jackson, Mississippi or Fort Lauderdale, Florida!)
Our tiny loyal contingent is enough to bring the show back for a second season, which is wonderful. But now we want more.
“Orphan Black” is about an English orphan, who is white. (Well?) In episode one, she comes back to… the non-English city in which the story takes place (an unnamed bizarre hybrid of New York and Toronto, where the currency clearly isn’t dollars but the NYPD definitely patrols), and discovers she has a twin! No wait, she’s a triplet! Uh oh, there’s… quite a few of her.
She’s played by Tatiana Maslany. Who? Yes. She’s Canadian. That’s not important right now. What is important is that she plays seven actual characters in the course of the show, which is about unraveling this mystery of clones cl-clone-clone-clones. And then sometimes she plays those characters playing each other. Which is insane to watch. Insane! The show shot from October through February, and she got about one day off, sometimes playing three roles in a single day.
Let’s hear from Professional TV Critics!
• “What dazzled me most about ‘Orphan Black’ this season was Maslany’s performance. If I had an Emmy ballot, she’d be on the Best Actress list, or at least three of the Best Supporting Actress spots. Or both. She never phoned in any of her clones,” says Jeff Jensen of EW.
• “It’s a great performance not just because you can tell each character from each other, but because several of the characters are so compelling that Maslany would be a knockout even if she was only playing one of them,” wrote Alan Sepinwall of HitFix.
• “Maslany is giving one of TV’s two or three best performances, a daring tightrope walk between being over-the-top and gimmicky and incredibly naturalistic while playing seven or eight different characters, at least four of them ‘regulars,'” wrote some dude at Grantland.
Etc. “An acting tour de force,” wrote Variety yesterday.
IT GOES ON. “Many professional men say lady is really good,” so it must be true! (No but seriously!)
And then, despite this TELEVISUAL MAGICKING, Claire Danes will get the Emmy for best actressing for most plastic face-moving. Or Julianna Marguiles, or whoever; Connie Britton’s hair, or that fun lady who is secretly Russian who is married on TV to that incredibly hot dude. Why is that guy so hot? He’s Welsh, did you know that?
Anyway. That would be unfair. The age of the big networks is over! We expect our American awards shows to honor the truly best, not just the “oh that TV lady was nice to me in the Ralph’s” or “Oh we have the same agent” or “my nanny loves that show.” We deserve more from our Los Angeles taste makers and awards voters. We demand the recognition of the actually groundbreaking. Claire Danes WILL BE FINE, she’s been through worse.