Monday, June 9, 2014

Behind Bars with Pipes

The girls of Litchfield Correctional Facility return for some serious Season 2 hijinks.
The crazily long-awaited return of Orange is the New Black came to pass last week as we all watched our smartphones to vibrate with a message from Netflix that the whole new season is up and running. Then we collectively sneaked into the bathroom on our cigarette breaks to watch snippets of the first episode on the can. Even IMDB got in on the fun posting an animated ribbon on it’s front page with the entire main cast which is around 16 to 20 girls seemingly reacting to something gross and atrocious.

Crazy Eyes partying it up with Taystee.
            Orange is the New Black has had as much of an impact on the female TV audience as something like True Detective had on the male audience. But unlike the latter it doesn’t take itself so seriously that you have to google books anything on existentialism after every episode. The unbridled ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude speaks volumes to girls and out of the incredibly vast and diverse cast of the show, there is someone for everyone to relate to, and at times we find ourselves relating to all of the characters…except for perhaps Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning).  Me? I’m a cross between Chapman (duh), Big Boo, and Poussay…but it depends on the day. A lot of the time I’m feeling the plight of Red the Russian mob ringer (Kate Mulgrew) ('It's fucking funny!'). But there’s an inmate for every mood. And that’s what makes the show so endearing. The troubles of the characters which on the surface might seem alien to us because most of us have never done time, are at the same time universal, because we’ve all struggled and done things we shouldn’t have, and now are striving to find redemption.
A big part of the reason I couldn't wait for this season is to see how it works out with Daya and Bennett; hottest prison guard this side of scripted TV.
            So when you think about it, the show’s very simple in that respect, and it’s entertaining; the two main cornerstones of TV. I don’t need to peel back all the layers of Rustin’s inner demons on True Detective like I’m a philosophy post-doc. If a show can make you laugh hysterically and cry like no one’s watching within the same hour, that’s a good show. And finally there’s something on TV that treats women more than just the whore the mother or the wife…am I right Mad Men? I mean seriously, it’s the 21st century and we’re still disenfranchised playing second fiddle to middle-aged white men with problems. I know that TV is inherently frightened about shows that cater to and center around women, especially one with a cast of ONLY women (with the exception of Jason Biggs…and Pornstache), but that’s folly because apparently, as Orange has proved there’s a huge niche in the market for that. I mean, we DO make up half of the country’s populace, and you can’t play us off with Peggy Olsen anymore.

One endearing lesson this show teaches us that whether weathering a storm or living large, in prison or in St. Tropez, ya gotta have friends.
But aside from all the politics, what’s great about the show are the characters and the actors who play them. Aside from resurrecting the careers of long forgotten actors such as Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, and Laura Prepon, the show is basically a who’s who of newbies and hot young upper-and-comers. With the resurgence of female protagonist shows like Orange, Scandal, and even Bates Motel, we might find redemption yet like we had in the 90’s when our estrogen fueled material also had a presence (remember Allie McBeal or My So Called Life)? This show explicitly states; we might be in prison but we’re not the bad guys, and we will persevere. And that’s an admirable notion. So turn off your phone, plug into Netflix, and join everyone else in this gargantuan estrogen fest. Happy watching!

Season 2 promo below:

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