Monday Morning Critic – On Women In Prison … Orange is the New Black Season 2 Reviewed
by Scott "Kubryk" Sawitz on June 9, 2014

MMC

I got nothing this week and thus a stand alone on Orange is the New Black seems appropriate. two quick thoughts:

1. A Million Ways To Die In The West is an awful, awful movie. Review coming up sometime in the near future … so you should read about how bad the film is. Very disappointed, since I was hoping it’d be funny.

2. Edge of Tomorrow is an awful title for a great film … All You Need Is Kill is such a better one.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Travis’s thoughts mirrored mine on Edge of Tomorrow.

Mike Noyes wrote on Malificent. He also tackled Junk on DVD, too.

And now on MMC … I have no words. This is just … messed up, man.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s Netflix Viewing- Orange is the New Black (Season 2)

I watched the first episode of season one on a lark. After cranking through Dr. Who, Ripper Street and both variants of the Justice League cartoon series (among others) a friend of mine suggested OITNB. I initially dismissed it, of course, but one afternoon I had nothing else to do and decided it’d be worth a cursory view. My feelings on television series have always been my two episode rule.

You’ve got two episodes to hook me … if not I dismiss you as not worth my time. And I’ll give OITNB credit: what I had thought would be only worthwhile for a moment as “Donna from That ‘70s Show as a raging lesbian” turned into a show I genuinely enjoyed. And thank god for Netflix being the people behind this and deciding “You know what? Let’s dump the entire season all at once!” … because they’ve designed a show that’s perfect for binge watching and release it as such.

Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) had the perfect life. After what was a presumably wild 20s, she was in her 30s and ready to settle down. She found the perfect guy (Jason Biggs) and was planning on getting married and starting a family. And then her past as a drug mule for Alex, a Heroin trafficker (Laura Prepon) and her lover at the time of said smuggling, catches up with her and she’s got to do some prison time. The Statute of Limitations nearing its end (but not quite expiring) before she’s implicated as part of a massive drug bust; she thought she got away with it but wound up catching up with her. Piper got caught up in the jet stream and is sentenced to some hard time at a minimum security women’s correctional facility.

With Alex and a whole cast of characters there, Piper has to relearn what it means to live and figure out how to adjust to prison life. With a cast of wacky characters to contend with, Piper’s upper crust ways have to change in a place where they decidedly unnecessary and unwarranted. The series is basically a year in her life, changed radically to make it just enough like the novel but enough different to probably not be sued by a lot of people.

Starting in season 2 she’s now a veteran of the game in a way; she’s acclimated to her environment and is now trying to survive her year or so in the system. A new crop of prisoners have arrived at Litchfield and Piper is no longer than the wide eyed doe that she was coming into it. But she’s still got plenty of problems, including those stemming from her association (and drug smuggling) with Alex.

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Based off the memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, the show is a fictionalized version of her memoirs. They basically took the conceit of an upper crest, rich liberal white woman and turned it into more of a character study than actually being a faithful adaptation of the source. Upworth knocked out a truth vs. fiction piece on the show vs. book, of course, and Piper herself wrote about how it wasn’t a true non-fictional adaptation of her life behind bars. So it’s more in line with Gangster Squad than anything else.

Season 2 starts off where we ended. Piper has just had gotten into a fight Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning) and this season follows the aftermath of that as well as continues Piper’s adventures in prison. She has the repercussions of that to deal with … and the prison itself is going for an upheaval with the arrival of Vee (Lorraine Toussaint). Vee has a past with Taystee (Danielle Brooks) and Red (Kate Mulgrew) and things get a much needed, and much interesting, shakeup with her involvement.

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The one thing about this show that’s still a strong selling point, and has continued on, is its ability to continually develop characters while advancing the story. The show has no problem using flashbacks regularly, showcasing what led the women to be in prison in the first place, while also keeping the show moving forward story wise. It’s an interesting story-telling manner for the show, as it develops characters in a sort of haphazard manner. A couple of the characters (no spoilers) get their back-stories explained and it becomes tragic in a lot of ways.

OitNB is terrific in terms of characters and I wish television had more of this, properly. It’s not a great show with female characters; it’s great characters who also happen to be women. I think a lot of it gets lost along the way when people ask for more female roles. This is a great character study and the number one reason to have Netflix, even for a month. I binge watched it over this weekend … and you should too.

Strongly recommended

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

22 Jump Street – Jonah Hill is back, fat and now we’re infiltrating college.

See It – The first was shockingly hilarious and so far the second appears to be either one of two things. A collection of the worst parts for a trailer … or a film so obnoxiously bad that this as funny as it gets. Either way it’ll be interesting.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 – Jay Baruchel and company are back.

Skip It – I didn’t care for the first film, or the TV series that followed, so I can’t imagine this’ll be anything good.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .



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