She was definitely a dark horse in the Emmys race, but it’s still a little hard to believe that the voting members of Academy of Television Arts and Sciences couldn’t find a little love for “Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany. The Canadian actress did not receive a nod in the Best Actress category this morning, and this is the kind of oversight that only helps to make the awards show look shamelessly, ridiculously biased in the face of impressive work it’s supposed to applaud.
Even the biggest TV snob, when forced at gunpoint to watch a little BBC America scifi show, would have to admit Maslany has turned in not one, but seven great performances on the show. Of course, I get it. It’s a show about clones (strike one), it’s science fiction (strike two) and it’s on BBC America (strike three). How could the Emmys possibly reward a performance of any caliber stuck in this programming ghetto? It’s just easier to throw a few nods at big stars in network shows, regardless of whether or not they’re worthy of it.
I’ll admit, even I was initially skeptical of a TV show about clones (what is this, 1970?). But after one episode I was hooked. It isn’t that Maslany is putting on a one-woman show, zipping in and out of wigs and glasses and accents many times in each episode. That’s the kind of stunt that only proves an actress has a budget for costumes. What is remarkable about Maslany’s work is that each character (and this is also a nod to the strong writing on the show) feels fully realized. They’re not just slightly different shades of the same flat performance, or a variety of accents tossed at viewers to clue us in that a new character has arrived.
Each character has a backstory, specific mannerisms, tonal quirks. When one deeply troubled clone, Helena, met fellow clone Sarah at a diner, we watched her eat like the frightened animal she was. Meanwhile, Sarah struggled to control her distaste for Helena while fighting back an urge to connect she wouldn’t understand until later. It’s not a long scene, but it’s full of emotion, of nuance, of detail. And it’s one actress doing all the heavy lifting.
But people, or at least the people who get an Emmy ballot, aren’t eager to hand out accolades to a show that looks like (on paper, at least) silly kid stuff, especially not basic cable silly kid stuff. There’s even less love for an unknown who exists outside the Hollywood bubble. I could get into why I think several of the nominees in the Best Actress in a Drama category aren’t that worthy, but there’s no point. The point is that Emmy missed a chance to give credit where it was sorely due and missed. The underdog stays the underdog yet again.
What did you think of Tatiana Maslany’s snub?