Orange is the New Black: Random Thoughts


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Spoilers. You’ve been warned.

So I watched the series I kept hearing about: Orange is the New Black. Now that I’ve finished all available episodes I find myself thinking about the show. A lot. Random thoughts follow.

Am I a prude? Maybe I’m a prude. I found myself blushing a couple of times while watching by myself. I almost turned off the first episode because I felt so uncomfortable with them leaving nothing to the imagination. But I found the story so compelling I kept watching. Maybe I’m a prude.

Finally, a show filled with women who look like the women I see in real life. All ages, races, shapes, haircuts. Annndddd…it’s set in a prison.

But really, in what other context in our society do women of all ages, races and shapes interact quite so much? Could we try to replicate this in real life? Outside of prison?

The show certainly passes the Bechdel test with extra credit. And it’s set in a prison. The flashbacks to the lives of the women, pre-incarceration, are compelling to me. I love how they are painted as neither complete saints nor complete sinners, but complex human beings with a mix of choices and luck.

Speaking of which, when the young guard says to Piper that she could be one of them if things had happened differently, is she just being empathetic and trying not to judge? Or does she have a past? Hmmm.

Interesting how the show sets it up to make it seem that Piper is the most well-read, book-smart inmate. Then over time, you come to see Taystee really is. She’s come to be my favorite character, not least for the scene in which she refuses to let the short woman check out “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” from the prison library because she’s afraid it will be used as a step-stool. I love how Taystee hands her a copy of “Ulysses” instead, along with a literary critique.

Class issues. I’m going to talk about Taystee again. Who else’s heart broke when Taystee got out and then had no place to live? I think this show does a lot to show your economic class can have a big impact on your likelihood of ending up in prison, largely because there are no good choices available to be made. And because money buys legal representation.

Who wins the award for prisoner with the guiltiest conscience? I think it’s the yoga lady.

What does the warden look like? Will we ever see him?

Mr. Healy is the worst. The. Worst. THE WORST. I chuckled over the scene where he had Red interpreting for him and his Russian bride. But he’s still THE WORST. Earlier I thought it was Pornstache, but it’s Healy.

Funny how I’ve gotten this far into writing down my thoughts without mentioning the Alex/Piper relationship. I guess I don’t find it as interesting as some of the other things going on in the show. But you can really see how they both used the each other.

From now on, whenever I mention anyone I know on my blog, or anything from my personal life on my blog, I’m going to worry that I’m channeling Larry, Piper’s fiance. Her imprisonment sure has jump-started his career, hasn’t it?

Laverne Cox! How wonderful to have a trans actor play a trans character. I adore how accepting the nun is of her life and how they strike up a kind of friendship.

Crazy Eyes – What a great scene when her parents come to visit and you find out they’re white. My heart actually hurt a little when she asked Piper why people call her Crazy Eyes.

For all that she’s lethally dangerous, Pennsatucky deserves treatment for her mental illness. What if she’d received real mental health services? I mean, seeing her back story, she should definitely be kept out of society. But her delusions have only been encouraged. Wouldn’t everyone, including her, be safer if she got true help?

Is Piper losing her mind? Was the voice she heard in solitary real? Did she actually see that chicken? How badly did she hurt Pennsatucky in the final fight scene? My favorite line of hers in the series is when she tells her mom that the reason she’s in prison is because she’s no different than anyone else in there.

Finally, near the end, they had some new women in wearing their newbie jumpsuits. Was one of them a girl who had been in for the scared straight program? Or did I imagine it?

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