Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Open Letter to Orphan Black--or Deconstructing Narrative

Dear Orphan Black (The TV Show)--

I have heard such great things about you, and frankly, just the stills of Tatiana Maslaney in her various guises is intriguing.

So I'm halfway in the tank with you anyway.

But can we please, please, just stop? Stop with the "I'm going to impersonate my doppelgänger, and this will be tense and thrilling"? Because you know what? It's not tense and it's not thrilling. It's cringeworthy and irritating.

Because here's the deal. She's not going to get found out, right? The plot requires that Sarah keep up Beth Childs' persona, because the plot is about a bunch of clones who are being killed off. And they need someone with access to police resources to help them stay alive. So, we know that however half-assed Sarah is at being a cop, she's going to be good enough that the plot can continue to move forward.

So then, what is the point? She's going to act in her job based on what she's seen on cop shows. So what WE get to see is somebody half-assedly channeling being a cop, while knowing that she's not going to get herself killed, because the plot needs her. She's not going to get found out, and arrested for impersonating a cop, because the plot can't afford that. She isn't going to fail at this.

Is it just me? This feels like such a tired device and it justifies so much filler. We have to watch her try to find her desk, or get lost on the way to the bathroom, or not know how to call in to dispatch. So wacky! Such hijinks! Anybody can be a cop--it's not that hard!

Worse than that, though, is that we have to watch her partner pretend that this isn't deeply creepy and frightening. FOR HIM. He's really got a newbie as a partner, His life is endangered and he doesn't even know it, so he can't protect himself.

And this is totally Not OK. He's going into dangerous situations without the protection he thought he had. How is this different from--oh, I don't know--dropping roofies into somebody's drink, or failing to disclose an STD to a sexual partner? Why are we supposed to take Sarah's perspective on this, especially when Sarah is behaving like a crappy human being? Why does she endanger herself and others? Because she wants to lift $75K that doesn't belong to her. This is the hero?

I'm not asking that Sarah be a saint--it's interesting that she's a somewhat dodgy character, facing an even more dangerous situation than she is used to. What I am asking is that you use this situation to show us things about Sarah. Develop her character. She's appalled to find herself a cop, since she's been on the other side so often. So how does this express itself? Why has she been a criminal in the past? What moral conflicts does she experience? How does she feel about jerking about Beth's boyfriend--he's a human being, not just an obstacle to her getting the $75K. He has lost somebody he loves and he doesn't know it either. These are not just plot contrivances--or they shouldn't be.

Really show us the character and we'll follow. As it is, I am getting fed up with Wacky Inept Cop, and it's nearly enough to make me drop the series. Ive made it through four episodes--show me something new, or God as my witness, I will erase this from my DVR. Don't make me do it!

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