When the Emmy nominations were announced, one of the biggest names missing was that of Orphan Black star, Tatiana Maslany. The Canadian actress plays the main character in the BBC America show that has taken the internet by storm. It was actually tumblr where I kept seeing references to this show that I’d never even heard of before. Finally curiosity got the best of me and I headed over to Amazon and bought the first season. Two days later I was a full-fledged Orphan Black apologist.
I feel as if everyone should watch this show so here’s my argument… the Top Ten Reasons You Need to be Watching Orphan Black.
This will be as non-spoilerish as I can possibly make it so prepare yourself for many vague statements that allude to things also vague.
1. Tatiana Maslany
Obviously, first off has to be the star, Tatiana Maslany. Not only does she play the main character, Sarah, but she plays five other characters as well. At least three of those characters she has numerous scenes with so she’s acting with herself for a good chunk of the show. In order to keep them all straight, Maslany created each character their own playlist and dance. In addition she has an entire “continuity team” that helps her keep track of various expressions and personality traits of each character. Of course each of these characters have their own look, their own history, and even completely separate accents. I felt the need for a flow chart at times just watching, I can’t even fathom playing each different character and remaining sane.
One of Maslany’s characters is named Allison and she is a delight to watch. Very proper, very put together, and at the same time, very unhinged. You get the impression that Allison’s grip on sanity is hanging on by a thread and watching her attempt to keep it together is very entertaining. In the season finale something happens that many viewers weren’t very pleased with in regards to Allison’s character but I’m of the thought that it just adds to her depth. There is so much going on beneath her PTA/Neighborhood Watch façade that I think we’ve just seen the tip of a very entertaining and at times, very funny, iceberg.
Another character played by Tatiana Maslany, Cosima is the cool, fun, I’d love to be friends with her, scientist. While Sarah and Allison do a lot to propel the story forward in action, it is Cosima that is filling in a lot of the blanks. From her we learn a lot of what is actually going on and a lot of the back story due to her dealings with certain other characters that I’m not even going to mention due to being very spoilerish. Just take my word for it that you should watch because Cosima is awesome.
If you read me with any regularity, prepare to roll your eyes because once again I’m about to proclaim my love for sibling relationships in television. If a show has an interesting sibling relationship element, chances are, I’m going to watch it. Orphan Black has a bit of a twist on the traditional sibling aspect as these siblings are of the adopted/foster variety. The relationship between Felix and Sarah is fantastic thanks in big part to the acting skills of Maslany and Jordan Gavaris. Felix is such a fun character to watch as he inevitably becomes the unlikely rock of a the group of Maslany’s characters.
5. Mrs. S
Fans of Downton Abbey will no doubt instantly recognize Vera Bates! The moment she came on-screen I might have squealed a bit as I have loved Maria Doyle Kennedy since her time as Catherine of Aragon on The Tudors. She also had a bit of a run on Dexter back in season five as Sonya. Kennedy is a fabulous actor who I am delighted has found her way onto a new show, especially one as good as Orphan Black. Her Mrs. S is very mysterious and I for one can not wait to see what lies in store for her in season two.
6. Paul Dierden
Do I need to say much beyond that?
Well not only is Dylan Bruce nice to look at, his character Paul Dierden is really interesting. Once it was discovered who is he the story hits the ground running and so much happens in such a short amount of time that you might feel as if your head is spinning. Plus that discovery leads to perhaps the best scene of the entire series so far with Allison and her husband.
There are plenty of shows that I watch and really enjoy, but even as much as I enjoy them, for the most part, the storytelling is a bit predictable. Arrow is obvious because even though they do take liberties from the comic book, it’s still a comic that I’ve read extensively through the years so I have a general idea where it’s going. Boardwalk Empire is a story based within a period of history and has real life characters so you sort of know what’s going to happen. Of course it takes you by surprise when a dude walks in a whorehouse and shoots everyone but still, that’s not completely unexpected. Game of Thrones, well I’ve read the books so again I have a general idea.
Orphan Black however? Well for the first two episodes my heart was in my throat because I was so nervous that Sarah Manning would be discovered and then I spent the rest of the season with a “WTF is happening right now?” feeling. Just when you are pretty sure you know how things are going to go, someone’s tail gets chopped off. Yes there are obvious storytelling tools in place, like one person is sick but we’ve only seen a little bit of that so when they die later on we’ll all go “oh yea, they were sick back in episode whatever”, but for the most part, the majority of it has been a surprise.
8. BBC America
Seriously, they have been on a tear lately. Before last year, when Copper premiered, BBC America was known mainly for Doctor Who and endless reruns of Gordon Ramsey. Not that either of these things are bad, but there just wasn’t a lot happening on the channel that was new. Now in addition to the British imports, BBC America has two original shows in Copper and Orphan Black.
With the popularity of their two original shows, one has to imagine they would look to expand. If they keep up with the same type of quality, this can only be a good thing.
9. Season Two
This “reason you should watch Orphan Black” is a bit of a lie. You should watch it, there’s no doubt, but it does suck that while there is a season two coming, it isn’t until April. APRIL!! Do you know how far away April is? Ugh, I perish at the thought. I’ll have watched the entire season at least three or four more times between now and then.
10. Again, Tatiana Maslany
I know, it’s cheating, but seriously girlfriend is so good in this show she deserves two spots. If you’ve seen the show you likely completely agree with me. If you haven’t, well go remedy that so you can say “yes Amanda Denton, you are so right, Tatiana Maslany does need two spots on this Top Ten Reasons You Should Be Watching Orphan Black list”.
Go on, I’ll wait.
For now, those who have seen the show, this is pretty interesting visit with Maslany on the set of Orphan Black.