Monday’s Favorite: Orange Is the New Black

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Hi everyone! Hope you are enjoying the summer and had a good Father’s Day. I’ve been loving the warm weather and have been using my downtime as a chance to do some serious Netflix binge-watching.

For those of you who have a Netflix account, you probably know Orange is the New Black came out with Season 2 last Friday. A quick summary of OITNB: the show centers around Piper Chapman, a wealthy New Yorker who has landed herself in Litchfield Prison because of a crime she committed ten years ago. Piper helped her girlfriend transport drug money (It was only one time!!). The plot follows Piper as she acclimates to prison and navigates the intricate relationships between all of the inmates. We also get to know a large supporting cast of prisoners and the circumstances of their imprisonment through a mix of current scenes and flashbacks.If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you start now.

SPOILERS AHEAD*** Don’t read if you haven’t finished Season 2

Season 2 is just as exciting, shocking, and jaw-dropping as the first thirteen episodes. Jenji Kohan, the show’s creator, outdid herself.

Some of my favorite parts:

1. Where is Chapman? Season 1 ended with Piper beating the crap out of Pensatucky. All of the viewers questions– Is Pensatucky dead? What happens to Piper?– are left unanswered in the first episode of Season 2. We see Piper being transported out of SHU, loaded onto a bus, and boarding an airplane as she desperately tries to ascertain where she is going. She sees the Chicago skyline and realizes she is going to a jail there. Chapman is virtually ignored until she sees Alex in the prison– she had no idea where she was going or why she was there until she finds a familiar face. Kohan shows viewers how prisoners are treated as “less than”. Piper is treated like dirt and her rights are ignored. She is transported without an explanation and has no way to protect herself. Kohan makes a point about how vulnerable the prisoners really are. Later in the season, the Litchfield inmates are subjected to unsafe conditions when their showers start spewing sewage. This is another instance where the women are unprotected and have no way to advocate for themselves. Kohan really lets OITNB fans see how badly the inmates are treated– like they are less than human.

2. Piper’s Perjury: When Piper is in court to testify against the drug lord, she sees Alex before she is called to the stand. Alex urges Piper to lie and say she didn’t know the man; she says he is dangerous and will retaliate. Initially, Piper tells Alex that she will tell the truth no matter the consequences. However, Piper lies on the stand and says she never met the drug lord in an attempt to protect both Alex and herself. When Alex testifies, she tells the truth about the drug lord and is let out of jail. Piper chooses to lie under oath: another crime. Piper demonstrates that she doesn’t trust the system to imprison the drug lord. I think it’s interesting Piper chooses to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing– she keeps making bad decisions. Kohan is showing viewers that Chapman is responsible for her current predicament; she chose to do the wrong thing with Alex, and she chose to do the wrong thing in trial. It is her own fault.

3. Morello’s Backstory: I love seeing what the inmates were like before they ended up at Litchfield. This season, I really liked Morello’s backstory. Morello is one of my favorite characters; I love her sass, her optimism, and her over-the-top accent. She seems so fun and happy that I was wondering what she did to end up in jail. While we don’t know whether she was imprisoned because of her mail fraud scam or her obsession with Christopher, it didn’t really matter. Morello– who I thought was the most “with-it” inmate– turned out to be a stalker. I truly believed she was planning a wedding with Christopher, but instead, she was delusional and he only went on a single date with her. She even went so far as to break into Christopher and his fiancé’s house, stealing the prison van in the process. My heart hurt for Morello when we saw Christopher testify against her in court but I was heartbroken when I saw Christopher berate her in prison. Morello was humiliated in front of Nicky and the other inmates. I’m not sure how to feel about Morello now. Everything I that I thought I knew about her was actually her fantasies; I’m not sure what to believe. Kohan is a master at creating nuanced and complicated characters, and Morello is no exception. I’m excited to see what unfolds in Season 3

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4. Poussey: Poussey has been my favorite character this season. Her smile is infectious and her commitment to avoiding corruption is admirable. Even when all of her friends join Vee in her illegal cigarette (and later heroin) selling scheme, Poussey refuses to yield to the pressure. Poussey gets attacked by Warren, threatened by Vee, and ignored by Taystee, but she stays true to herself. She will not join the corruption ring no matter what she loses. I think Poussey is the hero of this season. She is so strong in her convictions, and her decision to do the right thing is admirable. She’s not afraid to stand up to Vee and fight back. She also doesn’t hold a grudge; Taystee and her other friends abandon her, but she allows them back into her life once they realize that Vee is bad news. She’s also really funny  and I love her and Taystee’s scenes together. I hope we learn about Poussey’s crime that landed her in Litchfield– it is mentioned she dealt pot, but I want a flashback that shows what happened. She’s also a hilarious character and I’m so glad she was featured more prominently this season.

These are only some of my highlights from OITNB Season 2. I’m in awe of Jenji Kohan and how conflicted she makes me (and other viewers) feel while they watch the show. She portrays the inmates as real people: they have good and bad qualities, and I’m torn as to how I feel about them. She is also incredible at creating cliffhangers and is the master of twists and turns. I never know what’s going to happen to the prisoners, and that’s part of the incredible journey that is OITNB. I don’t know how I’m going to wait another year for Season 3.

Have you all seen the new season? What did you think about it?

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