Performer of the Week: Tatiana Maslany

Orphan Black Tatiana MaslanyA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Tatiana Maslany

THE SHOW | Orphan Black


THE AIRDATE | May 18, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE | Throughout Orphan Black‘s freshman run, Tatiana Maslany’s work has been as mind-blowing as the show’s concept: A young woman whose life is in shambles witnesses her doppelgänger committing suicide on a train platform, assumes the dead woman’s police-detective identity and discovers she’s one in a series of at least nine human clones (another of whom is attempting to kill off the entire line).

RELATED | TV Season in Review: Breaks Are Bad, Gore Is Good, a Reality Check and More Lessons Learned

During the course of “Entangled Bank,” Maslany deftly and distinctly brought to life four different characters going through arcs that were respectively hilarious, heartbreaking, romantic and suspenseful: Uptight soccer mom Alison; psychotic zealot Helena; bisexual science geek Cosima; and tough-gal heroine Sarah (who at one point had to pass herself off as dead cop Beth).

In Maslany’s hands, Alison has been the portrait of prim, suburban conformity — with a hilarious undercurrent of barely suppressed rage. In “Entangled Bank,” we finally saw the character come unravelled: Reeling from her decision to seek a divorce, stressed from keeping her clone status a secret, and suspecting that her bestie neighbor Aynesley might be her “observer,” Alison wound up ditching her daughter’s figure-skating practice, sharing a joint with Aynesley’s dolt husband and then hilariously seducing him in his minivan. When Maslany growled, “I bet you could bounce me like a ball,” you could sense a season’s worth of deeply felt tension on the brink of release. And later, as Alison drove home belting out Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch,” there was a mixture of joy at having decided not to “give an eff” and terror at not knowing how her future would look in the morning. (Just for good measure, we followed up with an Alison-Aynesley slugfest in the middle of their picturesque street — complete with a head to the steering wheel and a car door to the torso. Ouch! And LOL, too.)

Equally mesmerizing was Maslany’s turn as the unhinged Ukranian Helena, who discovered that Sarah, the clone she just can’t kill, has a biological daughter named Kira. Watching Helena in her shipyard hideout, sniffing Sarah’s jacket and reading Kira’s letters to “mommy,” you knew the hour was headed for something dark and derangerd — and sure enough, Helena lured Kira out the door and began to abscond with her. But a funny thing happened on the way to Helena’s creepy keeper: Little Kira sensed something broken in her mother’s “twin” and gave her a hug while whispering, “Helena, what happened to you?” The sudden jolt of being treated like a human being — and not as a programmed assassin/angel of death — opened a tidal wave of emotion, leaving Helena no choice but to let Kira run from their alleyway hiding place toward her screaming mother. Alas, as Kira ran directly into the path of a car, we saw Maslany capture Sarah’s abject horror and shock, as well as Helena’s sense of desperation and guilt.

If this episode doesn’t put Maslany on the Emmy shortlist for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, then nobody in a genre series is ever going to stand a chance.

Whose performance knocked your socks off this week? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sara says:

    Thanks TVLine for turning me into a clonophile. Love the show & can’t believe Tatiana’s talent. I keep forgetting it’s the same person & everyone has their favourite character

  2. Celeste says:

    No honorable mention for Hayden Pannetiere in Nashville? Thought she was great this week.

    • Amanda says:

      I completely agree. Hayden broke my heart this week. She was stellar.

      • Celeste says:

        Same, I actually cried from watching her scenes. But Tatiana is just as great, I always forget that it’s the same person playing all of them.

        • Sarah says:

          You’re right. I ALWAYS forgot that is actually the same person. It just shows us how great Tatiana performance is

    • completely agree….Hayden Panattiere was briliant…She is so young but yet so talented…

    • Babygate says:

      Did you watch Orphan Black?

      • Esaul says:

        Question. Where does Orphan Black air? I’d love to check it out now. It’s how I got into Scandal. xD

        • cjeffery7 says:

          BBC America. Saturdays at 9/8c if I’m not mistaken. I’ve got a date with human clones tonight!

        • Kate says:

 in Canada. Tatiana’s work on Orphan Black is a tour de force. Her ability to play up to 3 different characters in a scene and have each one of them so individually defined that you never feel like your watching the same actress doing different roles is a thing of beauty. Talented woman and so proud to say Canadian as well!

        • Lauren says:

          Same! I marathoned Scandal after reading the article about the actor who plays Huck’s performance. And now I’m on board for catching up on Orphan Black. Love these features.

          • Elyse says:

            what did you think of Scandal? I have the first season in my netflix que and the second in my Hulu Plus que and I’m thinking of doing a Scandal marathon here soon!

    • dude says:

      Completely agree! She was the performance of the week for sure but she’s already gotten the honour and Tatiana Maslany (who really does deserve the recognition) hasn’t so I’ll chalk it up to overdue recognition.

    • DeeKayTee says:


  3. Maki says:

    the show is tremendous. the interactions between the clones is really good and sibling like believable.
    the action is really working well and it’s enterzaining as hell. keep it up.

  4. kavyn says:

    Totally deserved! Love Tatiana!

  5. Et al. says:

    I’ve said it before but thank you for highlighting this show. Even people who aren’t fans of genre or Sci Fi should watch just for this astounding performance each and every week.

  6. Mike R. says:

    She may be the best actress of TV right now.

  7. Husain says:

    Hayden Pannetiere for sure should have won this, her performance was just too good!

  8. Ummm. says:

    I’m loving Tatiana on OB but it should of been Hayden this week.

  9. Susan says:

    She’s amazing! I always manage to get lost in the show and forget that it’s her playing half the characters. I agree she totally deserves a nomination.

  10. Damien says:

    She’s like Anna Torv in Fringe!

    • Mike R. says:

      I’ve seen that comparison every where and I agree.

      • yless says:

        How is she like Anna Torv?Torv was OK on Fringe, but Tatiana is the best actress working today by far. The amount of work she is doing is mind-blowing, and the quality of it all is unmatched by any actor or actress I have ever seen on TV.The series itself is good fun but not great, her work is what makes Orphan Black unmissable.

        • Mike R. says:

          Playing multiple characters, in a single show.

          • yless says:

            I know , but can you really compare ? Torv played only one other character , she did OK but not near the tour de force Maslany does.Many others played twins on TV, Sarah Michelle Gellar
            was very bland on Ringer and in sitcoms Patty Duke, Barbara Eden, Elizabeth Montgomery…The point is from now on every multiple performances on TV will be compared to this amazing work.

        • Sam says:

          Thank you! I cringed, when I saw this comparison. Tatiana is actually a good actress.

    • Shaun says:

      I’d go with she’s closer to Nina Dobrev.

  11. Another star wich were shining as bright was Thandie Newton in my opinion….

  12. Lauren says:

    I love this pick! I’m a huge Hayden P. fan too, but TVline raves about her often (and I think gave her this award once already??), so I’m a-okay.

  13. JT says:

    Since there’s no honorable mention that means Tatiana gets that to right because she deserves it. She does an awesome job week after week.

  14. mia says:

    Tatiana is crazy disgusting good. Its unreal how she brings all these characters to life, making them all completely unique people but also clearly showing they are so very similar.

  15. Tama says:

    Very well deserved!!!! She is an amazing actress.

  16. tvaddict says:

    I was expecting some Hayden P love this week too….she so deserves an emmy nod this year. And I guess I will have to check out orphan black now…add that to my long list of TV series I need to be watching

  17. Doug says:

    She has done an amazing job this entire season. All the different clones have very unique personalities and she brings them all out deftly. Definitely see the Anna Torv comparison with Olivia/Fauxlivia

  18. kirads09 says:

    100% agree. Tatiana is amazing and deserves the recognition.

    • Ashley says:

      I AGREE………W/everybody about TATIANA except for the one’s who mentioned HAYDEN P.
      T is a very good actress and i really love this show. most def. one of my MUST WATCH SHOWS. can’t wait for tonight’s ep. i hope kira survives and sarah needs to TAKE HELENA OUT…… if she’s the one killing off the clones!!

  19. Babygate says:

    I had never heard of Tatiana before Orphan Black, but, wow. Am I impressed! She delivers with every single nuanced movement and expression. I cannot tell between a Canadian and an American accent, but it is very obvious that Alison and Kasima don’t come from the same place. Even as Beth, she sounds completely different than Kasima and Alyson. It’s so much fun to watch. Tatiana really needs to be recognized for her outstanding work.

  20. Sheldon W. says:

    No arguments, but her work in Unconscious Selection, this week, could well bring her back to this space after tonight’s amazing episode, since it’s even better!!!

  21. Missmurray says:

    Yep, let’s praise an actress who plays multiple characters while TRASHING other actors cause the stupid writers refused to give certain characters doubles. And just the fact that this actress is being compared to that overrated Anna torv girl makes me REFUSE to watch this stupid show.

    • Frankie707 says:

      I didn’t see anyone trash any other actor (well you came closest in your comment).

      People like/love this show and the performance of the lead actress. They’re expressing their opinion that her performance does deserve this recognition. That’s not trashing other actors. Just because someone says that in this case they do believe one actress deserves recognition more than someone else is NOT trashing the other.

      • Missmurray says:

        Whatever. People who didnt play 5 people are labeled as the weakest freaking link. People said that about Joshua Jsckson on fringe cause everyone else played 5 people. So a big middle finger to this Titana girl and Anna torv.

        Yeah I am freaking bitter.

        • Sara says:

          Josh? What happened to you, you were such a nice man

        • Betsy says:

          what on earth are you even nattering about? you’re apparently bitter that joshua jackson didn’t get the proper recognition, so you’re going to take it out on some other unrelated actress? okay then.

          • Missmurray says:

            Well it’s only a matter of time before Titana’s fanbase will treat the other actors the way they treated josh because they didn’t have 5 people to play. Just you wait. I know one actor will be named the “weakest link”.

        • JC says:

          So you’re bitter about an actress and a show that you have no first hand knowledge of? Have you considered professional help?

  22. Megan says:

    I am so excited for tonight’s episode of Orphan Black! Tatiana was so amazing last week, I can’t image how she is going to be in the aftermath of what happened to Kira.

  23. paula says:

    I love Orphan Black, and Tatiana is so impressive in it. I was really happy when I saw that Michael was mentioning the show on twitter a lot and that she was popping up in Idolatry, trying to bring in new audience members :)

    • Elyse says:

      TVline always mentioning Orphan Black has definitely helped with at least one new audience member. This weekend I watched the first 8 episodes on BBC America on demand so I could be current for the new episodes. I’m loving Oprhan Black!!!

      • Crystal Meth says:

        I pulled an all nighter, watching/catching-up on Orphan Black too, just so I could be ready for the finale. LOVE THIS SHOW.

        • Elyse says:

          it’s amazing!! I love it. I’m just sad I’ve watched them all and have to wait 5 whole days for the finale!

  24. Linderella says:

    This is a choice that could have occurred earlier in the season – Tatiana has brought it every single week. I am just thrilled OB has been renewed for a second season and am looking so forward to Tatiana receiving the Emmy award for her performance(s)!

  25. cjeffery7 says:

    She deserves all the awards. literally as in lead actress, supporting actress, guest actress. even the russian was unique! i can’t imagine how much time and energy goes into playing so many characters, much less putting it on screen, but hopefully she won’t get burned out, cause i wanna know what other clones are out there!!

  26. f_m says:

    Tatania is the best new actor I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Kudos to her and her brilliant show.

  27. Eves says:

    Love her! She’s incredible!!

  28. Celeste says:

    Hope both Tatiana and Hayden get Emmy nods this year though. Both have done tremendous work in their respective shows.

  29. The performer of the week would’ve given to Bill Hader and his emotional farewell on Saturday Night Live. :-(

  30. Mari says:

    oh wow I’m blown away by Tatiana’s performance. I can’t even believe that she does all the characters. She deserves all the awards.

  31. MR505 says:

    Ah. It would have been an awesome time in entertainment to have Anna Torv and Tatiana Maslany fighting for this spotlight at the same time. Orphan Black is a great comfort after the end of Fringe, and Tatiana is an amazing talent that hopefully, this time, the Emmy Awards voters won’t ignore.

  32. Sara says:

    I am so excited she got Performer of the Week! She is beyond amazing and the way she plays each character has really drawn me into the show. I am totally obsessed with Orphan Black and with Tatiana Maslany.

  33. Rachel says:

    “If this episode doesn’t put Maslany on the Emmy shortlist for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, then nobody in a genre series is ever going to stand a chance.”

    SO TRUE. She is absolutely amazing.

  34. phamster says:

    I have to admit that I had my doubts when the show first started but I have been totally sucked in since. I have seen her name listed on many Emmy shortlists. And how wrong is it that BBC America provides better sci-fi than the SyFy channel.

  35. canadian ninja says:

    She’s probably a contender for this every week. Just awesome. Eat your protein and get good sleep Tatiana – they’re workin you HARD!

  36. JC says:

    Yes, Tatiana deserves an Emmy nomination but she won’t get one because: 1) genre show, 2) Saturday night, 3) second tier cable network.

    I predict these will be the Emmy nominees for Outstanding Actress in a Drama:
    Claire Danes (Homeland)
    Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey)
    Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
    Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
    Keri Russell (The Americans)
    Kerry Washington (Scandal)

    • yless says:

      If this happens , and judging by other grave omissions(Fringe’s John Noble…) I think it’s very likely that the amazing Tatiana Maslany will be overlooked.This ridiculous “Awards” show are not for excellence in acting, but a promotional farce given to the most popular shows.

    • mia says:

      And its a Canadian import, so that won’t help it. If it was *really* British, it might have a chance…but Maria Doyle Kennedy (Mrs S) is the only actual UK-er on the show, the rest are Canadian actors. And its filmed here, written by Canadians. So its screwed for any Emmy love.

  37. Carrie says:

    Tatiana might take the best actress crown away from Claire Danes this year. Watch out! Tatiana is AMAZING.

  38. julio says:

    I love this show. If she does get nominated this would be the first time I would actually be interested in the drama section of the emmy awards. Hopefully she gets the recognition she deserves and we get many more seasons to come.

  39. minerva114 says:

    I haven’t been watching this show but I loved her performance on Heartland (Canadian show on CBC). She played a cowgirl on the rodeo circuit who could rope and race with the best of them. I knew then she was very talented and would end up going places. So, it makes me happy to read this article.

    • Sue says:

      I watched her in Heartland as well but that role in no way prepared me for how crazy good she is in Orphan Black. Shetakes my breath away every week.

  40. Rick Katze says:

    There is only one way she can get an emmy nomination.

    There is a plague that kills everyone above the age of 35 who is eligible to vote for the emmy.

    At lest BBC America recognized what they have and renewed it for another year.

    • Sheila says:

      I’m 42. Are you saying I’m too old to appreciate this show?

      • Bob says:

        Are you an Emmy voter, Sheila? Rick’s comment, I think, relates more to those Emmy voters over 35 always sticking with what’s safe, which is network (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) or premium cable (HBO, Showtime), not that you don’t “get it” if you’re over 35.

  41. Madmac says:

    If you saw her in the Mark Harmon TV Movie, then you wouldn’t be surprised by Tatiana’s work.

  42. Whatever says:

    Fantastic show and Maslany is a AMAZING.

  43. Zepp OnAir says:

    The Tatiana is a whirlwind of performances of the same actor for multiple “almost same” characters. I do not know how she can give own personalities for each character, almost the same! To watch Orphan Black “, the person have to be wide awake and alert, and that’s the big difference this excellent show, in relation to others. Tatiana has a great talent that comes with those demonstrating its great performances, needs no further comments, no doubt. She, I think, is a super candidate nomination to EMMI, but I’m afraid after snub Fringe, I think they are a bit “blind” … I leave here, too, congratulations to the editor and director of this show, they are very good.

  44. Shaun says:

    I agree though,I think the Emmy’s are too set in their ways to change now.Large Cable networks tend to dominate the field and there are alot of great leading ladies.

  45. queerbec says:

    PerhapS we need to undertake a Kickstarter campaign to finance the introduction of Tatiana and Orpan Black to all Emmy voters and the mysterious nominating process.

  46. I think Tatiana deserves an award for each character she plays, they’re all so different. By the way I’m 60 and believe this is a fantastic show (that was for Rick).

  47. Luis says:

    This has been one of the most remarkable performances I remember seeing on television, particularly from a show that has just premiered. I can’t understand how Tatiana Maslany can keep all the dialogue straight in her head between all the different characters, accents and attitudes. The fact that she has given all of these characters traits and shadings that distinguish one from another is simply marvelous. It would be a remarkable thing to see her rewarded with an Emmy nomination, but it would be more than deserved.

    • Doug says:

      In addition to the four main “clones” that she is playing, she also has the added complexity of having to play the “clones playing other clones”. For example, she plays Sarah pretending to be Beth, and at one point, she had to play the tightly-wound Allison pretending to be Sarah. The subtle nuances are amazing. It’s amazing work! But it’s too bad that she will not get any Emmy love because it’s a Canadian show on a second tier network that no one watches.

  48. Maria says:

    Thanks for highlighting Tatiana’s work. She really is amazing and deserves an Emmy nomination for sure and if it were up to me, she would have the award.

  49. Bob says:

    This is an awesome show on a much-underrated network. Look at what they have in rotation these days: Orphan Black, Doctor Who, Copper, Ripper Street, Planet Earth, Law and Order UK, Being Human, Luther. All top quality shows.

  50. Chaq says:

    This is my new favorite show after Fringe. But 10 episode this year and 10 the next. Isn’t that depriving!? Lol. I wish there was more. But I’m sure 10 is enough for Tatiana to get an Emmy. More power to Oprhan Black and Tatiana.