Well, the list of Emmy nominations is out, and Tatiana Maslany, the brilliant actor at the center of “Orphan Black’s” Clone Club, was not named. At all.
Neither was the show.
In a world of television you can half-watch while playing games on your phone or browsing the internet, “Orphan Black” is different. Look away from the screen for a moment during an episode, and you might miss something. Strike that. You will miss something.
It’s a twisting, turning show full of unexpected paths, one that grips you from beginning to end, and it wouldn’t work without Maslany’s immense talent. So what gives?
Could it possibly be the genre? Sci-fi doesn’t get a whole lot of respect, and when it does, it gets shuffled off into the more genteel-sounding “speculative fiction.” But sci-fi is the lifeblood of our future, and it tells us a lot about our present.With science-fiction, writers imagine things impossible for their time, that yet sometimes come to be long after they’re gone. Jules Verne, for example, pictured a man on the moon in 1865, a century before it happened. Margaret Atwood–who tends to fall into the speculative category–envisioned the future of genetic engineering in Oryx and Crake, the first of the MaddAddam Trilogy, a decade before we got to engineered meat. “Orphan Black” reflects something back at us, magnifies it, tells us who we might be given time and technology. And Maslany executes that reality flawlessly. She deserves recognition for her work. Sci-fi matters. Need a little mystery in your life? Check out Her Cousin Much Removed, or sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!