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With “Orphan Black” Returning, Tatiana Maslany Cements Herself One Of TV’s Best Stars

Tatiana Maslany, sadly, gets overlooked.

It is extremely easy to name a performance or a television show the “best” or “worst”. We have this mindset called “recently bias”, where the most recent show you watched and liked/disliked falls under the “best” or “worst” category.

In the plethora of television pieces hogging your Facebook timeline or Twitter news feed, Maslany gets undermined by bigger shows — which usually grab the headlines. It makes sense; Maslany’s show airs on a network that is not pulling in the biggest ratings.

But, damn, Tatiana Maslany can act.

The Canadian actress stars in BBC America’s Orphan Black, where, for the past 3 seasons, has been one of the best examples of exceptional acting on television. Her consistency in Orphan Black has me looking forward to each episode and the season the following year. Her performances (yes, plural!), like the show, seem to get the short end of the stick in conversations about television.

Maslany plays Sarah Manning, a loner who witnesses a suicide of a woman that looks exactly like her. As the show unfolds, we learn that Sarah’s genes are part of a cloning experiment. Sarah meets all different types clones, as they try to figure out who the original clone is and the reasons behind the cloning.

What gives Orphan Black its uniqueness (as if a show about clones is not unique enough), Tatiana Maslany plays each clone with a jaw-dropping sense of greatness. From Sarah to Cosima (the smart one) to Alison (the soccer mom with an edge), Maslany is brilliant in bringing each character’s personality to life. Also, filming scenes multiple times, because of the multiple clones in one scene, is a incredible achievement by Maslany. There are times where it is very difficult to imagine one actress playing each clone, because of how great the show is produced. Maslany deserves lots of the praise.

But there is more praise to dish out.

The show’s editing and directing is impeccable. To be able to pull off having an actress play multiple characters without the show seeming cheesy is a testament to the technical side of Orphan Black. When the first season was airing, BBC America released a video on how the filming of the show is done.

And, of course, her co-stars are equally as compelling. Jordan Gavaris as Felix, Dylan Bruce as Paul and Maria Doyle Kennedy as “Mrs. S.” are great. The show is extremely complex, which includes its “supporting” cast. These characters are not throwaway or forgettable; they each provide a key to the puzzle of life as a clone.

Now, the show is not without some faults. The plot of the first season is A+ level great. The second and third season’s plot wavers. What the show becomes is out there, at times, but each season’s finale closes up the show’s past season fairly well. It gets weird — to a level where you do stop caring about some of the show’s characters. A saving grace, however, is that you are going to like one, if not all, of the clones. Each of them get a fair amount of screen time and story arcs, which makes the show incredibly entertaining. (My favorite is Alison. I want to be her friend!)

Have not seen Orphan Black yet? Check out Amazon Prime, each of the three seasons are streaming there. Season 4 airs on BBC America beginning on April 14.

High, high recommend.

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