Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Orange is the New Black: Season 2

Last night Clovis and I had a little chat about Orange is the New Black Season 2. We were pretty much in agreement that it was I hope you are ready for a love fest. I mean, hopefully the chat is funny too, but it's basically us gushing about the show. Enjoy!

Maggie Cats: So, season 2! Thoughts?

Clovis: In no particular, Vee is scary. I still don't give a shit about Piper. Larry is still a douche. But that's what you get when you cast Jason Biggs. Poor Crazy Eyes is going to be even more fucked up than ever. That's my 30,000-foot view.

Maggie Cats: I liked the this season even better than the first. I think introducing Vee and focusing on the power struggles within the prison was genius. And I do not dislike Piper as much as everyone else. I think side-lining her a bit was a good move....but basically, I have too much in common with her to hate on her.

Clovis: Haha, would you like to take this moment to confess anything about your secret lesbian past smuggling drugs? We can keep it between us and the blog readers.

Maggie Cats: I meant that I am a white privileged liberal self-focused lady. I didn't smuggle DRUGS.

Clovis: Livestock?

Maggie Cats: Only children.

Clovis: Fair.

Maggie Cats: Under my muumuu.

Clovis: In Morocco.

Maggie Cats: WHO TOLD.

Clovis: But back to the point, I really liked Vee, all things considered. One of the things that impressed me was how well she actually set up a functioning and stable family environment. You know. When she wasn't being a total sociopath.

Maggie Cats: She is a psychopath and excels at finding someone's emotional weakness and pouncing on it like a vampire. And this season was all about the created family as power. Joss Whedon is like, "they stole my favorite theme!"

Clovis: At least they let him keep his reputation as a character-murderer. That was nice of them.

Maggie Cats: True. Change of topic: I think Taystee might have become my favorite character this season. She is just so compelling.

Clovis: I really liked the arc they gave her. She was an interesting character in season 1, but season 2 really got to let her play with who that person is. I loved that she was the only one who understood the job fair, for example.

Maggie Cats: But she still didn't UNDERSTAND the job fair

Clovis: EXACTLY! That's the story of Taystee's whole life - she understands the score so much better than anyone around her, but she always misses the one crucial detail that ends up biting her in the ass. She got that Vee offered love and protection and how important that was. She just didn't understand the cost it came at. Likewise, in season 1, she understood how to do what she needed to do to get released, but didn't understand what was going to happen once she was back in society.

Maggie Cats: Nailed it. And OMG we have to talk about the twist with Lorna. It was so amazing and surprising and didn't feel like a cheat at all. Guess what, audience? BITCH IS CRAY. And not just cray, but like 50 shades of cray.

Clovis: I was wondering what was up with that all through last season. I kept thinking that they were going to reveal that Michael wasn't real at all - just someone she made up in her head. When we finally saw her with the collage on her wall, I kind of figured that it was all just made up. Turns out I was close.

Maggie Cats: It's like the revelation didn't change how much I love her at all--which objectively feels strange. I did not even consider that she could be crazy. I think I have been consistently underestimating how well this show is going to flesh out everyone in the cast and not just a handful of main characters (like most television programs). This is what LOST was trying to do.

Clovis: Agreed. Not a single person in OITNB has yelled "Waaaaaaaaaallltt" once! Definite plus in its favor.
Maggie Cats: But seriously, I care about every single one of these characters. How often does that happen? Even the asshole prison staff. I still find them interesting, even if they are idiots.

Clovis: Like I said, my closest exception is Piper. I don't hate her, I just don't care about her when the other characters are so much more interesting to me.

Maggie Cats: I think the only thing they should do next season is just get rid of Larry completely from the plot, his story is kind of done. I didn't actively dislike his and Polly's subplot, but I think it has run its course. So see ya!

Clovis: Agreed, though I'm sure they'll leave him on. Piper needs that connection to her "real" life, so I'm sure they'll still be a presence. Although, in Piper's favor, I loved the moment they gave her during her furlough when one of the family members said to her that she must be so anxious to get out and return to her old life and Piper thoughtfully responded that actually, she kind of wasn't. Piper is developing more of a, dare we say, authentic existence inside the prison than she ever had outside it.

Maggie Cats: I just find Piper interesting. Her development to having more backbone...but also her inability to hold back on correcting people and coming off as a know it all. She just feels like another completely real person.

Clovis: Yeah, I don't think that's inaccurate. I just prefer the other characters to her. Big case in point this year was Poussay. One of the things that set me off with Poussay last year was that at times you could almost see the real actress coming through the character.

Maggie Cats: I think the problem I have, which isn't really fair of me, is that the actress is so stunning that she doesn't seem realistic as the character.

Clovis: Like, the character would suddenly lapse into a flawless British accent in order to make a joke or something. Skills that the real-life actress has but I didn't think that character would. Then suddenly this year we get her backstory of having been an army brat and likely a very competent one, given that she apparently mastered German on her own. Suddenly the character clicked for me. Although yes, agreed - she's been made "Hollywood ugly". Which is to say, they shaved her head.

Maggie Cats: I confess that I did not find her flashbacks very compelling. But again, different strokes. The fact that there is such a myriad variety of characters and we can each connect with different ones is a reason why the show is so great.

Clovis: That's definitely the strength of the show - the variety of its ensemble cast. Which makes me grateful that they got a second season (and are on their way to a third) so that they can keep showcasing all these characters.

Maggie Cats: One of my favorite blogs, Tom and Lorenzo, writes about the show. And they nailed it when they said it is telling womens' stories that nobody else is telling.

Clovis: Completely agree. The show blows both the Bechdel test and the Mako test out of the water. 

Maggie Cats: And watching it, you aren't like "how nice that someone is telling stories about ladies." It's just like, "this is a show that is brilliant. Oh, and hey, most of the characters are women. Neat." The fact that it is about women is not "a thing."

Clovis: It reminds me of some authors when they're asked about how they write women characters and the ones who respond by saying they write characters first and foremost and that those characters are women are secondary to having good story lines and good beats. I understand the flip side to that argument, that representation is important and that you do have to bear in mind that women's experiences are different from men's, but I think the point about focusing first and foremost on telling authentic stories is what helps to move the show into the space it occupies so well.

Maggie Cats: What you said reminds me of how Joss Whedon answered the question, "why do you write such strong female characters?" His response was, "how is this even a question? Why aren't you asking a hundred other guys why they don't?" And to me, "strong" doesn't necessarily mean kickass. It means characters that are actual people.

Clovis: For better or for worse, one of the unintended consequences of Joss Whedon writing characters like Buffy that are "Strong Female Characters" is that while Hollywood is slowly getting more comfortable with having female action characters, there's still a rule that a "strong" female has to be a tiny, petite blonde girl who can inexplicably punch a guy five times her size. That's an overreaction to the characters that writers like Whedon were trying to create, but it's the state we're left with. What makes OITNB so interesting to me is that there is no similar requirement here.

Maggie Cats: I'm not sure that idea is limited to "strong" female characters...I think it's more that Hollywood wants ANY female character to be petite and hot. So I think I disagree with your point on that one, but respectfully. Oh, wait, I obviously mean DISRESPECTFULLY

Clovis: In this show we get women of all body types, ethnicities, and backgrounds. And while some of them are physically strong and intimidating, others are "strong" in the sense that they're just well-written characters. Punch me and disagree with me. ;)

Maggie Cats: Hmm...I am neither blonde nor petitie. But I never turn down an offer to punch someone. I do prefer to give a kidney shot though.

Clovis: So what are you interested in seeing them do with the show in Season 3? 

Maggie Cats: You know, I have NO IDEA.

Clovis: Obviously there is more about the characters that I want to see them explore, but one of the things that I'd like to see more of is something on the recidivism that Taystee touched on in season 1. 

Maggie Cats: I don't even know what I want. I just trust the show to take me along for the ride and to tell the story the writers want to tell.

Clovis: I'd like to see them take a look at how the prison system works for women who are trying to integrate back into society. (or doesn't work, as the case may be.) 

Maggie Cats: That would be interesting. I think we will spend more time outside the prison with the fugitive chase. 

Clovis: Somewhat related, I'd also love to know about the guard who had the hilarious problem with the nuns. As someone who grew up Catholic, I can completely understand where he's coming from. If he could sing more about the divorce that his mom and dad should have had but for the church, that would be cool too.

Maggie Cats: YES! That was awesome. Again, a tertiary character that I never really cared about all of a sudden became completely intriguing. His song was hysterical.

Clovis: I love the romance between him and the female guard. Like, I don't need a full episode on the two of them, but I always want to see a few lines from them in each episode.

Maggie Cats: It's just so graceful how the show is able to have these little character moments that carry through the season and then you get a payoff.

Clovis: Another question for season 3 (since we haven't even talked about Red yet): Will Red ever get to eat that chicken? 

Maggie Cats: HAHA. Nope. And she is totally going to find out Piper lied about going to the restaurant too. She will have VENGEANCE.  

Clovis: Vengeance or disability, right? Sounds like if Red learns the truth about her restaurant it could be the thing that breaks her. Especially since she doesn't have the prison kitchen anymore. Another possible theme for season 3 (building off the "family is power" theme in season two): Will we see racial tensions getting more pronounced than they have been? Red was certainly building up her people, possibly as a preliminary move to take back the kitchen from Mendoza. 

Maggie Cats: I love that my answer is "I have no idea." Anything could happen. Sidenote: I hope the old ladies take over. Those bitches mean BUSINESS. 

Clovis: Hell yes. I loved some of their lines about how no one thinks they can still cut you just because they have grey hair. I would love to see an old lady cabal start to form some real power plays in that place. It would be like a Godfather thing. 

Maggie Cats: It wouldn't surprise me--anything could happen on this show! Ok, let's wrap this up. I think we both feel this show is amazing. And I loved Season 2 even more than Season 1. Agree or disagree? 

Clovis: Definitely agreed. 

Maggie Cats: You are right and circle gets the square! 

Clovis: I was right? In what way? (not that I'm denying it...)

Maggie Cats: Your opinion was the same as mine and therefore it was correct. You get to avoid the kidney shot. Congrats!

Clovis: I always hoped this day would come.

Maggie Cats: Don't stop believin'.

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