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The Emmy nominations voting has begun, and while we can predict some of the usual awards season favorites, we have a few of our own picks — first-time nominees and under-the-radar picks alike — who deserve the honor this year. We're highlighting seven of those stars with video mash-ups of their best work, for your consideration.
There are two types of people in this world: those who think Tatiana Maslany deserves every award in existence, and those who haven't seen Orphan Black yet. Unfortunately, it looks like most Emmy voters fall into the latter category.
Even though Season 1 of BBC America's zippy sci-fi drama had every critic singing the praises of Maslany's mind-blowing performance(s) as a quintet of clones, the Emmys didn't nominate her last year. Now we're willing to be generous and give voters a mulligan on that one; Orphan Black was still a cult curiosity by the time Emmy ballots were due.
But this year, there are no more excuses. Orphan Black has hit the zeitgeist, and Maslany's performance is now impossible to ignore. We're drawing a firm line here: If Tatiana Maslany doesn't get a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama next month, the Emmys have lost all credibility. (Snub Tatiana once; shame on you. Snub her twice; shame on us.)
This isn't at all meant as a slight on the other fine actresses expected to be nominated in the category — your Robin Wrights, your Anna Gunns, your Elisabeth Mosses. They're great, too, and we love watching them. We're just saying that in a category meant to highlight the most daring female performances on TV, there has to be a place for Tatiana Maslany.
Because she isn't just giving a great performance on Orphan Black; she's giving five great performances, playing five distinctly drawn characters so convincingly (sometimes in the same scene) that it's easy to forget the same actress is playing all of these roles. That's the greatest compliment we can pay Maslany: We can get lost watching an intense scene between two characters… and totally forget she's playing both parts.
Back in Season 1, we met Maslany as street-smart con artist Sarah Manning, but as Sarah started to unravel the murky conspiracy behind her origins, we were introduced to her genetic clones: tightly-wound soccer mom Alison; dreadlocked scientist Cosima; polished executive Rachel; and feral Ukrainian wildcat Helena. (Last week, she even added a new clone to her repertoire: transgender male Tony.) Actually, we could argue that she deserves more than one nomination — but one, at the very least.
Maybe some Emmy voters dismiss the concept of one actress playing five roles as too flashy, a parlor trick of sorts. But when you look closely at each character, you can't help but marvel at Maslany's versatility. Take the wine-guzzling Alison, who ended up in rehab this season after an epic community-theater meltdown. If she was the wacky neighbor on, say, Modern Family, Maslany would be a shoo-in for an Emmy nomination. But because she's doing it on a (gasp!) sci-fi show on a small cable network, she gets ignored.
And comedy is just a tiny sliver of Maslany's prodigious talent. As Sarah, she brings a raw physicality that makes Black's nail-biting action scenes pop. As Cosima, she's the hipster brainiac who helps lay out the show's complicated mythology. As Rachel, she's the ultimate ice queen, toying with people's lives while sporting a thousand-dollar hairdo. And as Helena, she's a homicidal savage stumbling around in a world she can't comprehend.
Another point to consider: What other TV show rests so completely on the shoulders of one performer? Maslany is in virtually every scene of Orphan Black, often playing multiple roles in the same scene as the clones bounce off one another. It's an incredible tightrope walk: If Maslany stumbles even for a second, the entire series would falter. But she hasn't stumbled yet, and as a result, Orphan Black is one of TV's most compelling dramas.
[Related: Ranking the Couples on 'Orphan Black']
Some have already taken notice: Maslany has earned awards from the Television Critics Association and the Critics' Choice Television Awards, and she was even nominated for a Golden Globe this past year. C'mon, Emmys… you're not gonna let the Golden freaking Globes make you look out of touch, are you?
At this point, the only possible reason we can think of to explain another Maslany snub is that not enough people have seen Orphan Black yet. But is that even a valid excuse at this point? Really, isn't it the responsibility of every Emmy voter to be up to date on the latest television trends? And to at least be aware of Maslany's work? Bottom line: If you're an Emmy voter and you've never seen Orphan Black, you're not doing your job, plain and simple.
But it's not too late, Emmy voters. You have until June 20 (the deadline for submitting nominations) to redeem yourselves. Grab Season 1 on DVD, or stream it on Amazon Prime. Spend your Saturday nights binge-watching Season 2 on BBC America. Or heck, just watch the three-minute supercut we put together below and get a small taste of Maslany's masterful work. Do whatever you can to get caught up on this once-in-a-decade performance… or risk getting left behind.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America.
Click through this gallery to see all of our picks... and captions spoiler alert if you're not caught up on a particular show!
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