TV Talk: Orphan Black


If you follow me on twitter (wait, you don’t follow me on twitter? Why wouldn’t you follow me on twitter?! Just hit the little “follow me” thingy over there on the sidebar. It’s OK, we’ll wait. Done? Awesome.) you might notice that I like to live tweet TV. A lot.

And yet I rarely talk about TV here. I’m not sure why that is; I tend to focus on writing and books and whatever weird things pop into my head. So I’ve decided to add a new feature with TV Talk. Will it be a regular one? We’ll see.

Anyway, tonight is a new episode of “Orphan Black,” one of the best shows currently on television. You’ll note I didn’t say “sci-fi shows.”

There’s no question it’s sci-fi, as it explores the moral and ethical implications of cloning technology. The thing is, though, that sci-fi tends to be shoved into a little box of genre, and all the art of it becomes eclipsed by the execution of big ideas.

Between its taut writing and phenomenal acting — seriously, Tatiana Maslany is so incredible, it’s difficult, mentally, to keep track of the fact that she is just one person — “Orphan Black” is in an elite category of shows redefining the boundaries of television. Suddenly television is the long-form of storytelling, and “Orphan Black” takes full advantage (as does “12 Monkeys,” but we’ll talk about that one later).

It’s innovative, completely captivating, and populated with a uniquely talented cast, but yet when the Emmys rolled around, it was ignored. Why?

Back to genre.

Nothing reflects us to ourselves quite like science-fiction. We can imagine where we’re going if we keep heading in a direction; we can imagine what will happen if we don’t. We can take social issues out of their sensitive context, and give them a fresh, non-confrontational setting.

The truth can be found in sci-fi, as it always was. Even Ray Bradbury fell victim to the  science-fiction branding; people rarely talk about the crystalline, effortless nature of his prose. Rather, they focus on the brilliant images that prose creates in their minds.

Telling a story vividly, excitingly while giving a glimpse of things possibly to come shouldn’t lessen its artistic value.

It should add to it.

P.S. You may notice I didn’t give a whole lot of details on the show itself; I’m very anti-spoiler. Watch it! Let me know what you think, if you agree with my assessment, or if you think I’m totally off-base.

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Tatiana Maslany Should Get an ‘Orphan Black’ Emmy. But First She’d Need to be Nominated


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.
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Give it a Rest, R


It might be a strange pick for a Monday, but I’m choosing “rest” for R. It’s something we neglect, it’s something we put off, and it’s something we all need to keep doing what we need to do.

Yesterday, I did nearly nothing. I didn’t really work on my novel. I didn’t blog. I watched the “Cloneversation,” the pre-season two “Orphan Black” special, followed by the stunning premiere, with the intention of getting on with it afterward.

Afterward never came.

I felt as though I was sitting on a sofa made of molasses, my hand powerless over the on/off button on the remote. I caught up on some shows sitting on my DVR. And then I started watching a marathon of “Lindsay.” You know, the “docu-series” about Lindsay Lohan. I was a slug and it felt…


I can’t say that today I’m perfectly energized, because some Monday mornings are just like that and I’ve stopped with the cheat-code of alertness, caffeine, but I do have more space in my brain today. My mind was moving boxes while I watched Lindsay sorting through hers. No really. I think half the series is her unpacking. Or packing. Whichever.

When it’s your own brain that stops you dead, it’s only polite to ask it why. It’s probably telling you, you need to rest.

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