Orphan Black: Multi-Pygmalion

At the vehement suggestion of my best friend, and with the help of On Demand, I started binge-watching Orphan Black. I still have several episodes to go, and probably a lot to say once that happens, but for right now: oh, my god, the accent craziness is slightly mind-boggling.

Since it’s in the promos, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to say that a slew of the regular cast are all clones of one another. Which means the show’s star, Tatiana Maslany, is playing a whole bunch of different versions of herself. It’s not the first time someone’s had to play multiple selves for a television show, of course. Possibly just to make my head hurt, however, not only are there different versions of the main character, but half of them are from different countries. So, Maslany has to juggle American, British, and German accents, and that’s just in the first few episodes.

But it gets better. Because, you see, there are multiple plot elements which require different clones to impersonate each other. So, you have an actress trying to embody several different people with several different accents, and then having to figure out how each of those characters perceives the other characters in order to act like one of them is acting like another.

That sentence alone may have just killed several of my brain cells.

So, there isn’t just the British character’s accent, there’s the American character’s slightly off version of the British character’s accent, and another point where one of the European clones similarly has to do a slightly-slipping version of one of the American accents. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, the show gives several practicing montages, where Maslany has to show the progression from “doing the accent badly,” to “doing the accent much better.”

I … yeah. Accents and dialects are really fascinating to me in general. The sheer amount of work that must go into just figuring out the cadence of each accent and its variants, before dealing with physicality and other character nuance, is utterly engrossing here. There are sequences I’ve had to rewind just to get the plot again, because the first time through, I was distracted by the level of accent variance in play.

Even if the plot of this show was crap (and it’s not. It’s been quite fun-twisty so far), it’s been worth it just to witness the accent superpowers on display.

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