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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Woman of the Month: Alison Hendrix

Alison Hendrix from Orphan Black
Right now you should be doing one of two things: a. watching Orphan Black or b. getting ready to watch Orphan Black. It's currently in its third season, but the thing is – the less you know about this show beforehand the more you’ll enjoy it when you settle down to let it amaze you with its brilliance. The only thing I knew going in was simply “clones” and “Tatiana Maslany is a goddess.” So go. Watch it.
For those already in the know, you’re well aware that I could have put ANY of the clones on this list by dint of Maslany’s tour-de-force performance as all of them, adding nuance to each character right down to their body language, speech patterns and personal quirks. Her performance is utterly immersive, whether it’s as tough-as-nails Sarah or intellectual Cosima or feral Helena. So why go with Alison? As she herself admits, she can add nothing substantial beyond money to the clones’ efforts to try and figure out who they are and where they come from. But she pings one of my favourite character qualities of all time: Hidden Depths. On the surface she’s a high-strung and rather bitchy Soccer Mum, but as each episode goes on we discover just what she’s capable of.
More than any of the other clones, she has the most to lose, living out the suburban life of a wife and mother, but she nevertheless steps up and comes through for her “sisters” when she’s needed, whether it be posing as Sarah in order to retain visitation rights with her daughter, or teaching the other clones how to use a firearm. As her life begins to unravel and she veers towards more self-destructive tendencies, the sheer amount of pressure that she’s under keeps her relatable (hey, I’d like to see how well you handle the thought of your own husband and neighbours spying on you) even as she provides most of the comic relief.
Yet there’s something about Allison that makes you protective of her – the way she was happy with her life only to find it crumble down around her ears; the way that she desperately tries to cling to the way things were even though she knows deep down that she’ll never get the normalcy she craves. By season three she's managed to claw back some semblance of respectability in her community – though she's emerged from her crucible with more than a few sharp edges, and is now ready and willing to employ them.

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