SHEENA BARNETT: Show’s snub speaks about lack of praise



I believe in giving credit where credit’s due.

I’m not usually one who gets upset over entertainment award shows or nominations, but I’ve been pretty miffed since the Emmy nominations were announced last week.

One of my favorite shows, “Orphan Black,” wasn’t listed anywhere, and neither was its incredible leading actress, Tatiana Maslany.

I know a lot of sci-fi shows aren’t usually nominated for awards (and that’s a column topic for another day), but there’s nothing else on TV right now like “Orphan Black.”

The show starts when the street-smart con Sarah (Maslany) sees a woman who looks just like her – but then the woman kills herself. Sarah steals the woman’s purse, only to realize the woman wasn’t her doppelganger, but her clone.

Fast-forward to the end of season two, and we’ve met more than 10 clones. Sarah and her fellow clones – or “sisters,” as they call themselves – are unraveling the mysteries behind the sinister scientists who created them, the religious cult who wants to make more of them and the suspicious detectives who can’t put the pieces together.

Maslany plays all of the clones, and she gives them each such depth and nuance. Besides Sarah, there’s the brilliant scientist Cosima; Alison is an alcoholic soccer mom; Helena is a terrifying killer with a soft spot for children and sweets; and there’s the cold-hearted businesswoman Rachel.

Maslany even plays Tony, a transgendered clone.

It’s easy to get lost in the show and forget these diverse and complex characters are all played by the same woman.

Besides the clones, other female characters on “Orphan Black” are just as complex, with their own secrets and goals.

As a woman, it’s refreshing to see women depicted as complex people, not just stereotypes, on TV.

The goody-two-shoes housewife, the geek girl, the spoiled princess, the ditzy blonde – stereotypes like those are beyond old and need to go in today’s entertainment.

“Orphan Black” shatters all of those stereotypes, and does so in such a delightfully twisted way that’s sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always intriguing.

“Orphan Black” and Maslany have won awards, but nothing on the same level as the Emmys.

It’s time the show received some serious praise. It would make a statement for such a female-driven show to get some nominations. And “Orphan Black” doesn’t just create intelligent entertainment, it makes a statement about women, who we are and who we can be.

It’s that reason that the show is more than entertainment: It’s art.

Find me a show that’s doing all of that on any other channel on TV right now.

No, really. I’ll wait.

Sheena Barnett writes about entertainment for the Daily Journal. Contact her at

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