I had a major epiphany while plotting out the storyline of a new military romantic thriller series I have planned. The new series revolves around a black ops team that has been betrayed, framed for a horrific event and is on the run—trying to find answers and clear their names.
Needless to say the men are hot, alpha and more than capable of bringing down the organization that framed them. It was while I was tossing around ideas for the series that my brainstorming partner casually mentioned that I must really love conspiracy theories, because so far everything I’d been proposing had a major conspiracy in it.
This comment really opened my eyes, and made me think. Pretty much all of my current book ideas do involve conspiracies, as do my favorite televisions shows. In fact, my new favorite of favorites television show has a fantastic conspiracy plotline too.
The show is called Orphan Black, and it’s on BBC America Saturday nights at 8/9 o’clock.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you carve out the time to watch it. You won’t be sorry. Just make sure you start watching from episode one. Don’t start in the middle of the season, because you’ll be completely lost. Plus- this is a show where you need to watch from episode to episode, so you can see the gradual transformation of the characters.
I know a show is exceptional when it makes me want to be a better writer, when it makes me jealous of the characters they’ve created, and when it makes the plot bunnies multiply so fast in my mind I can’t keep track of them all.
For me characters and plot have to go hand in hand to keep me interested. Without a strong plot, I get bored. Without strong characters I don’t connect with the people in the story, so I don’t care how the plot impacts them.
Orphan Black does an amazing job of braiding the plot through the characters, and staying true to both. And the characters are simply amazing. None of them are pure black or white. Good characters do bad things, but for understandable reasons. The bad characters do good things for understandable reasons. The main character goes through this subtle, slow transformation from hardened con-artist, to someone with actual scruples and heart as the plot swallow her and she struggles to remain alive and protect her family.
But really, I think the most amazing thing about this show is that 90% of the characters are played by one actress. But because each character is so different and so clearly defined from their dialog, to their actions, to their wardrobe, to their habits and their mannerisms, you actually forget the same actress is playing all of them. In fact, this is embarrassing- but it didn’t even occur to me for a while that the same actress WAS playing all these characters. I mean outside of face and body, none of them were the same. I knew exactly which character was on stage just by how they dressed, spoke and acted. It was only when someone on twitter mentioned that Tatiana Maslany (the lead actress) deserved six Emmys for her roes on the show, that it dawned on me that she was playing all these amazing characters.
That’s the mark of true brilliance, I think, that while you’re watching you don’t even realize just how talented the actors/writers are.
It isn’t often a television show makes me feel like an inferior writer. But boy did the writers of Orphan Black punch my inferiority button. Which is good- really—since I’m striving to up my game and match their awesomeness.
Here are a couple of trailers for the show. Enjoy!