Better late than never to the ‘Orphan Black’ party

tatiana maslany

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

I was late to the Orphan Black party.

Days after the show aired its season finale, I consumed the entire first season in less than a week. (No easy feat when you have a three-year-old. It may be my greatest parenting accomplishment: Getting my daughter to bed early for seven days in a row.).

And everybody was right – Tatiana Maslany is amazing. It is a positively phenomenal performance, unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  If I were an actress, I would look at what Maslany is doing in Orphan Black and think, “Crap. I really need to go back to acting school.”

And although I was late to the Orphan Black shindig, I’m finding that many, many people still don’t know about the show and when I try to describe it (“It’s about this woman, Sarah, who discovers she is a clone”), I often get the same blank stare I would get when I would try to describe the brilliance that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

So trust me on this one, watch BBC America’s Orphan Black – all the episodes are currently available On Demand. I’ve never steered you wrong before, have I? (What? No, of course, I never recommended Smash. That must have been some OTHER TV Gal.).

You will be blown away by Maslany’s performance. She plays seven different characters and each character is so meticulously distinct. It’s not just hairstyles and accents (although those things, of course, help), it’s the entire way she carries her body, the cadence of her speech, and her facial expressions.  I so wholly believed that each character was a different person that when one of the clones didn’t appear in an episode, I actually thought to myself, “Maybe that actress was sick that week?”

The supporting cast (also known as the few characters not played by Maslany) are equally enjoyable. I was particularly fond of Sarah’s foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) who always brought some well-timed and expertly delivered comic relief to the series without ever becoming a one-note character. And it’s worth nothing that Paul (Dylan Bruce) is the first man since Sawyer I’ve contemplated running away with.

If you haven’t watched Orphan Black, stop reading and do so as soon as possible.

And if you have, let’s have a little chat. I don’t want to say this to those who haven’t seen the show because I don’t want anything to keep them from watching. But Maslany’s performance is so brilliant that it distracts us from some of the show’s bigger problems.  Way too many things happen for the convenience of plot. Why would everyone always go back to Felix’s apartment which 1) Has absolutely no security (no Felix, a screwdriver doesn’t count) and 2). Everybody knows exists.  Sarah is one smart lady but she doesn’t realize that once Helena has her coat, she will also find the letters from her daughter? The show’s occasionally sloppy writing sometimes undermined its thriller momentum.  And it really bothered me that although the show impliedsit takes place in Toronto (it’s clearly filmed there), they never really specified a location (and even sometimes seemed to imply it was taking place in the United States). A show this specific in its mythology and vision needs to be set in an equally specific place.  If the action is taking place in Toronto (as evidenced by the Ontario license plates and Canadian money), why not come right out and say it?

But these are just a few small quibbles about one of my favorite new shows. Have you already watched Orphan Black? What did you think? Did you have any quibbles with the show? Talk about it below?