The Golden Globe nominations always inspire alternating joy over well-deserved nominations, and rage over blatant snubs (hello, Anna Gunn), but the 2013 noms stand out for finally getting one thing very, very right. Unlike the Emmy crew, the Hollywood Foreign Press folks realize that Tatiana Maslany is currently the best female actor on television!
Sorry, Olivia Pope. I know that saying this might cause a — you know — scandal, but Tatiana Maslany‘s thrilling performance in the must-watch Canadian series Orphan Black was the best on television in 2013. Read below to find out why Tatiana deserves that trophy!
Tatiana Maslany: TV’s Ultimate Chameleon
In case you aren’t familiar with the absolutely bananas plot of Orphan, here’s the 411: an English petty criminal named Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) returns to New York to sell some cocaine and use the money to kidnap her own daughter, but her plan immediately hits a major snag. She watches as a woman named Beth Childs (Tatiana Maslany) — a woman who looks exactly like her — commits suicide, then gets sucked into a deep conspiracy involving human clones. Along the way she meets the likes of soccer mom Alison Hendrix (Tatiana Maslany), lab geek Cosima Niehaus (Tatiana Maslany), and feral European psychopath Helena (Tatiana Maslany), all while pretending to be Beth.
Well, most of the time. Sometimes she was Alison pretending to be Sarah, or Sarah pretending to be Alison, or Helena pretending to be Beth, or… you get it. But the point isn’t that Tatiana played a bunch of roles — it was hard work, but long hours alone wouldn’t put her above a Kerry Washington or a Julianna Margulies. The point is that no matter who she was being or how many of her there were on screen at one time, you were completely sucked in to the story. There could be five Tatianas in one room, and you would never even notice. She turned each character she played into a fully realized human being with unique strengths, flaws, ticks, and mannerisms, and captured their multiple voices (and accents) without ever sounding false or cheesy. She carried the weight of that entire series on her tiny (but toned!) shoulders, and it thrived.
Also, each character became so fully realized by halfway into the series’ 10-episode run that by the time that potluck rolled around, we were taken on a thrill ride when the show put two clones at the same party in nearly identical attire. Other shows rely on gimmicks like cheesy accents and drastically different haircuts/clothing styles to help us follow lesser actors who play multiple roles, but on Orphan, they never had to worry about the audience losing sight of who was pretending to be who. We were all simultaneously nervous and enthralled as the British punk Sarah successfully fooled an entire community of terrifying suburban parents, and we cheered when the organic chemistry between Alison and Sarah’s foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) grew into the most touching and hilarious pairing on the show.
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Tatiana had a different chemistry with each of her co-stars as she morphed from character to character? It was bloody brilliant. Oye!
Now, I’m not going to say that the other actresses in Tatiana’s category aren’t excellent. I’m currently marathoning Season 2 of The Good Wife so I can’t really comment on present-day Julianna, but Kerry, Robin Wright, and Taylor Schilling were all great anchors on their respective shows. However, Tatiana stands out above the rest because she came out of nowhere, propelling a small, quirky Canadian sci-fi show into a bona-fide must-see hit — and she did it all by herself. No Gladiators, no colorful cast of compelling inmates, no Kevin Spacey. Just one woman with a remarkable talent, bringing four wonderful, unique women to life. And that, my friends, deserves some damn recognition.
What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Is Tatiana the best, or just the absolute best?
— Shaunna Murphy