There were a lot of good things that came from Sunday night’s Emmy’s — but for me, the most exciting was that Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany won an award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.
Yes! I am a part of the Clone Club fan base and I’m not afraid to shout it from the rooftop. But, more specifically, I am a huge fan of Tatiana Maslany.
Maslany plays over 10 different characters in the hit sci-fi television show Orphan Black. Her characters are all clones, but they lead unique and separate lives. They have individual looks, accents, and personalities. Maslany’s ability to make the audience actually believe she is playing different people is what makes her deserving of this award — in fact, I find it hard to believe that it has taken this long.
Not only does Orphan Black create a realistic and frightening portrayal of a world in which evolution can be hand-picked and where sentient beings are considered intellectual property, but it also deals with a number of gender-specific issues that a lot of television shows steer away from. Maslany has played a hot-tempered, single mom from London, England; an American police detective with a drug addiction; a traditional (but scary) soccer mom; a lesbian nerd and geneticist; a tortured Ukrainian assassin; and even a transgendered male. And that is just a list of SOME of the clones within the series. It seems every few episodes a new character is introduced into the plot.
These characters not only fight to gain their independence and freedom from their creators, but they also represent strong and capable women (and men). What I love about the show is they don’t shove these gender roles, or rather the lack thereof, in your face. LGBTQ characters like clone Cosima and adopted brother Felix are simply there, existing along with everyone else, fighting for the same cause.
That may seem like a strange statement — to say that these characters are “simply existing.” But, in many television shows, writers will use LGBTQ characters as a way to introduce gay-or-lesbian-specific problems or conflicts. They stand out, becoming the quintessential and/or token “gay” or “lesbian” personas.
That is not the case in Orphan Black. If a character is gay, it’s considered a fact. That’s it. Instead of making their gender or sexual orientation a part of the plot, the show focuses on the larger storyline — keeping your family safe and implications of genetic manipulation.
And that’s how it should be.
Even Maslany, who has been nominated twice for the award, acknowledged this powerful part of her role during her acceptance speech. “I feel so lucky to be part of a show that puts women at the center,” she said amid her thank you’s.
I am overjoyed that Maslany has finally received the recognition she deserves for her role in Orphan Black. Every episode I watch, I find that I’m admiring her talents more and more. I don’t know another actress who is able to play such a variety of characters with such intensity, passion, and ability — and all within 45 minutes of television.
So, without risking spoilers, let me just say this: Maslany, congratulations on your Emmy! It is well deserved.