television

Must See Viewing: Orphan Black

Exciting news Clone Club! BBC America has renewed Orphan Black for a fourth season.
For any of you that have seen this show there is no shame to admit you’re victory dancing right now…

clone-club-dance-party

For any of you that have yet to see this show, don’t despair, just be well aware that when you start watching it, you can say goodbye to your social life for a week or so as you smash through the first two seasons. I’m speaking from experience here people – having just caught up to Season 3, I’m 1) gutted that I know cannot binge watch this series and 2) kind of happy that I can have my life back… but not really.

These people know what I’m talking about.

At this point, I’ve annoyed my friends and colleagues so much by talking about Orphan Black, it’s high-time I raved about this brilliant series online.

Like with most television, I’m jumping on the bandwagon a bit late.
And like with most television, someone told me to watch it about two years ago and I added it to my ever-growing list of “THINGS I NEED TO WATCH”.

I will admit, I’ve been a little disheartened by film at the moment, which seems to be 30% awful, 50% meh and 20% amazing.

bed movies

Earlier this year, I was sucker punched by a two week period filled with Fifty Shades of Grey, Jupiter Ascending and Project Almanac. Yes, film is a business, and I get that it needs to be profitable, but lately it’s been upsetting to see just how much the dollar sign is driving this creative medium.

While there have still been gems so far this year (and with Sydney Film Festival coming up, I’m preparing myself for even more) I’ve been increasingly turning to television and books for stories that really wow me. The latest of which is Orphan Black.

Maslany plays multiple characters often in the same scene.

Maslany plays multiple characters often in the same scene.

A Canadian series by BBC America, it’s about a woman who finds out she’s one of an unknown number of human clones, illegally created in the 1980s. Rather than crazy, out-of-this-world sci-fi, it’s dramatic, thrilling and packs a feminist punch, as these women struggle to claim ownership over their life when so many organisations, whether they’re run by scientists, governments or religious fanatics, believe they have the right to lay claim to them. One of the shows creators Graeme Manson told the New York Times in this fantastic article: “It’s so thematically connected to feminist issues. Who owns you, who owns your body, your biology? Who controls reproduction?”

At the heart of it all are a bunch of characters you get way too emotionally invested in for a fictional show, and even more unbelievable? They’re all played BY THE ONE PERSON. Tatiana Maslany. Aka one of the most phenomenal actresses out there right now, considering she makes each of these clones fully formed, separate characters – so much so, you often forget only one actor is playing them. It’s understandably exhausting work, with some days stretching out to 17 hours long.

Technical achievements aside (she plays multiple characters often in the same scene – see here if you’ve seen Season One), Orphan Black is also a fine example of writers who have crafted unique, complex and compelling female characters for our scenes. From the punk girl with a huge heart Sarah, to the abused childlike killer Helena, to anxious soccer mum Alison and lovable genius Cosima – and that’s just to name a few.

Additionally, these are women who don’t survive because they have a superpower, or can break out some martial arts moves. They get by on their tenacity, their intelligence, their wit. And Orphan Black remains proof that you can have a successful series driven by female characters, who don’t need to get their kit off or be dressed in tight leather or spandex to pull in viewers. As tumblr page hershotonher notes (via Jezebel):

not only does orphan black eat the bechdel test for breakfast lunch and dinner but it abysmally fails the reverse bechdel test

there are literally like three instances in the entire series where two men speak to each other about something other than a woman

what more reason do you need to watch this fucking show

Orphan-Black-S2Props to creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett and the raft of brilliant writers on this series, who also slam you with enough twists and turns that you’re never quite sure who to trust.

Yes, television is showering us with too many fantastic shows to keep up with, but if you’re not in Clone Club already, add this one to your list. 

It is one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking and addictive series out there.

 

Why Netflix Will Change Everything

It’s happened. Netflix has finally launched Down Under, to much fanfare and scrutinisation.

Netflix-Australia

It’s the beginning of a new era in Australian home entertainment, as people around the nation bump up their download limits, and prep their couch cushions and eyeballs for the onslaught of top-notch television and movies.

It’s now been a week since the streaming service hit our various tablet, computer and television screens, and as an early adopter, I can already feel the change it’s had.

People like myself who used to hire movies frequently have lately been struggling, as one by one, all the local video shops have begun shutting up shop. Lately, iTunes and GooglePlay were the only options, but if you’re paying $5.99 for every new release and $3.99 for any weekly, it can quickly add up. There’s no 5 weeklies for $10 deals anymore.

watchnowBut with Netflix, and other streaming services such as Nine and Fairfax Media’s Stan and Seven and Foxtel’s Presto, basically for the price of what it used to cost to hire a single new release, you can now get an entire library of movies and TV shows. To put it into perspective, I bought the first nine episodes of Orange is the New Black Season (OITNB) 2, with each priced at $2.99, which in itself is already more than I am now paying to have both seasons, as well as the wealth of other content. But also frustratingly, despite the fact the entire season of OITNB was available in the US, I then had to wait week by week, until SBS had broadcast the show, to be able to watch another new episode.

Aussies won't be fighting to see shows at the same time as the US now

Aussies won’t be fighting to see shows at the same time as the US now

Thankfully, the arrival of Netflix heralds a new era when Australian’s aren’t forced to wait months longer than US audiences to gain access to series.

Sure, a lot of people have been whining about the disparity between the selection on Australian Netflix, which carries only 1,116 titles compared to the US version with 8,499. But there’s promises the Aussie figure will grow and really, do you think Netflix was going to lay all the cards on the table at the launch? They obviously have a game plan, to convince all the people down the track who don’t have the service to sign up.

I found it interesting and a bit naive of some financial experts to say Netflix and other streaming services are a waste of money – that there’s not enough original content and Australian users will max out their data limits.

HouseofCardsThe Australian consumer is not an idiot. Anyone that is thinking of signing up to a streaming service is surely going to look around and see which ones offer the shows or movies they like. Presto has Louie, Wentworth, Sons of Anarchy and Modern Family, while Stan boasts shows such as Transparent, Community and Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The beauty of streaming services is that you can switch between them every couple of months if you don’t need a lock-in contract. Certain services also offer deals with internet service providers and Stan, Foxtel Play and Netflix are giving you the option of a free trial to see if it suits you.

And frankly, what are our other options? If I want to see House of Cards Season 3 and don’t want to download it, what cheaper alternative is there.

While I doubt this will completely curb Australians’ seemingly insatiable appetite for downloading, I do think it will quench some of that thirst, because with streaming services, comes choice. We have a mass of content to choose from now and we can get it at the same time as the US, for a similar price.

That’s right, Australians might finally fork out some of their cash for content, isn’t of heading to their favourite bit-torrent website.

Will streaming services have an impact on piracy in Australia?

Will streaming services have an impact on piracy in Australia?

Where an issue will arise is when it comes to Game of Thrones, which will screen on Foxtel – and not on their streaming service. Most Australians don’t want to pay $25 a month to see a single show – even if Foxtel is trying to ease that harsh truth by promoting all the other stuff you get with a subscription. The problem is that consumers may not want 12 different channels. They want a single show and they want to watch it when they want, for a reasonable price. I believe that is where Foxtel is going to lose customers. If Foxtel were offering it on a streaming service, I would feel differently. For me, it means making the effort of going to the home of a friend or family member who have Foxtel, but I can guarantee others will not.