There are Orphan Black spoilers about in the story below, though the Emmys spoiled everything anyway by being so negligent.
For the second year in a row, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has released a list of nominations that have fallen glaringly short in recognizing the quality and accessibility of TV’s most exciting sleeper hit, Orphan Black, and the hardest-working actress on TV, Tatiana Maslany. It was bad enough last year, as the series’ freshman season was a whirlwind of dark humor, conspiracies, and hairpin twists, all expertly anchored by Maslany’s handful of varied performances as the show’s central gang of clones. Somebody get a cop more competent than Art on this case, because this is just criminal.
If I take a few deep breaths and calmly consider the Emmys’ past resistance to recognizing sci-fi, I suppose I can understand why Orphan Black didn’t get nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, at least last year. It’s hard to argue with beyond-acclaimed series like Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Mad Men all vying for the top honors. But can we all agree that Downton Abbey needs to get a proper fork stuck in it? I also personally don’t think the second half of Game of Thrones‘ Season 4 was all that Emmy-worthy, and I don’t understand why this type of high-concept fantasy is an automatic nomination when Orphan Black‘s far less sluggish pacing and plotting doesn’t get acknowledged.
So okay, maybe Orphan Black as a whole doesn’t stand quite as tall as the more prestigious dramas of the year. No one is going to tell me, however, that Tatiana Maslany doesn’t deliver the most multi-faceted performance this side of Dr. Strangelove‘s Peter Sellers. (At least most of the time.) Unless the storyline specifically calls for a character dupe, audiences never have any trouble telling the difference between the brooding Sarah, the bliss-deficient Alison, the hazy genius Cosima, the batshit insane Helena, or the prim and closeted Rachel. And even when Maslany is double-dipping, as when she plays Sarah acting like Alison, the character tics are always present and recognizable. She’s holding a home run derby inside a batting cage, and everything she does is golden. The second-season finale’s dance party between the core clone club was one of the most enjoyable scenes on TV so far this year. You feel for these characters because Maslany earns every emotional beat.
What we have to assume is that the Emmy squad is, in fact, completely clueless that Maslany is playing all of these roles, and they’re looking at each of these characters as different actresses. But even with that extremely ignorant hypothetical assumption, Sarah is still a stronger character than some of the other leading ladies in the Outstanding Lead Actress category. I won’t name any names though.
To make matters worse, Maslany only started branching out the Rachel role this season, while also appearing as the too-far-gone Jennifer, who fell to the same disease that Cosima is suffering from, and Tony, who I’m fairly certain is the first transgender clone to make it to mainstream television. Granted, Tony was nothing more than Maslany with a mullet and some beard hair glued to her face, but that’s probably what a post-op clone would look like. You can’t fight genetics, especially when they’re carbon copies.
As hard as it is to put Maslany’s snub aside, I have to question how Orphan Black also got shut out of categories like Outstanding Special and Visual Effects, since the clone dance party was such a crowning achievement, or Outstanding Direction for John Fawcett, or Outstanding Writing for nearly any of the season’s 10 episodes. No music nods? No supporting actor or actress nods? No guest performer nods? Holy Tilda Swinton, Emmys, you’ve committed a most heinous error here, and it needs to be fixed.
Since Orphan Black appears on BBC America, the same network where Doctor Who airs, we’re going to put in a special request to the Doctor to do some timey wimey rigmarole to allow the Academy to see the error of their ways. But if that doesn’t work, then we’re just going to have to sick Donnie on them, since we all know how good he is with a loaded gun.