Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The second time around

“Everything is different, the second time around.”

Different, yeah. Better, fuck yeah. Welcome back, “Orange Is the New Black.” Like many of you, I spent this past weekend wolfing down the second season of OITNB. Hell, I took a vacation day on Friday and watched the whole damn thing in less than 24 hours. After the delirious high of binging on the show, I can say without hesitation that not only is Season 2 as good as the first season, it’s actually much better.

Richer. More complex. Deeply satisfying.

The stories have grown beyond the fish-out-of-water introductions of the first season – the, look, this is how you make prison shower shoes novelty of it all – to peer deeply into the complicated physics at work between all these different women forced to pass the time together.

Everything you complained about the first season (let’s be honest – it was mostly Piper and Larry) is better the second time around. And it’s better because Piper is no longer the sun around which the other stories revolve. While Season 1 did an admirable job of bringing us interesting and engaging secondary characters, they really, really get to shine in their own solar systems in the second season.

This is a show where the other characters, particularly the woman of color, are not just set pieces but the legitimate heroes, or antiheroes as the case may be, of their own stories. And this is major.



Just like with people, you can tell a lot about a TV show with how it treats its supporting cast. Are they props to bolster the lead character – offer advice, act sassy, look dumb? Or are they real people with their own agency and own universes? OITNB allows so many of its celestial bodies to live in their own, distinct orbits. It’s how they crash into each other and skip past each other and everything else that makes it all so freaking fascinating.

So in Season 2 we get less of Piper (meh) and Larry (yay) and Alex (aww) and Doggett (praise be). But more of Taystee and Poussey and Morello and Mendoza and Daya and Sister Ingalls and Miss Rosa and so on. It’s a trade I will happily make. While it’s nearly lesbian sacrilege to say, I didn’t actually miss Alex Vause all that much. Because, despite her limited screentime, she was still very much a part of the story. And, for reasons now clear to everyone, she will most definitely be back next year.

Her departure and the dimming of other storylines allows time for returning and new characters (like Vee and Soso) to bring multitudes to the screen. Hell, this season even brings nuance to its prison staff – who before were largely just caricatures of ineptitude. Yes, this show is that good.

And what you learn from watching a show like this, sitting for 13 uninterrupted hours on your couch, is the familiar refrain - what fools these mortals be. It is our shared strange and lonely and wondrous folly that makes us so very human. And, as with the night sky, our beauty comes not from just one shining star burning bright against the darkness, but the vastness of all our lights shining in unison.



p.s. Right, so are you ladies (and discerning gentlemen) interested in by episode reviews/recaps on here at all? Or is that OITNB overkill? If there is even such a thing for a show you watched the entirety of while wearing the same sweatpants.

24 comments:

Rosie said...

Oh I would love to dialogue about character development for ongoing columns! I had my own theory of what happened to Pensatucky after her Piper beating but turns out I was way off!!!
I'm suffering from withdrawal a little as I binge watched on Sunday...now I have no more to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

I'd really enjoy you doing a review/recap for each episode. I think you're the perfect blogger to really deconstruct the intricacy of OITNB and do it justice.

Anonymous said...

I high five anonymous above Nod vigorously in agreement. Throw my pie at this idea in a supportive manner. So that would be yes.

Tristen said...

I know Ms Snarker is the only person who can recap OITNB properly. Bring it on Ms S !!!!!

Carmen SanDiego said...

episode reviews/recaps would be greatly appreciated, really

Anonymous said...

I cannot get enough... and only Dorothy Snarker can do this justice! Recaps, mistress, please!

Anonymous said...

Snarker + OITNB recaps = match made in lesbian heaven

alice said...

Joining the chorus - your take on OITNB would be very welcome and much appreciated! The two downsides of binge watching are the withdrawl afterwards and the lack of people who've also watched it all. You'd be doing a community service, really.

Anonymous said...

Great idea, Snarker! Bring it on, can't wait to read your recaps!

Patsy said...

Reviews/recaps done by you: AWESOME IDEA.
That would highlight my day for sure! Bring it, Snarker! ^-^

Anonymous said...

I finally decided to watch two episodes at a time. One is not enough, I was going through withdrawal, but two at a time allows me to deliciously draw it out. I like having some to look forward to =) Hold off on the recaps for a little while so those of us waiting to watch the episodes can read them without spoilers.

Anonymous said...

I loved the season as well but unlike many, Piper is my favorite character so I love her. I love her and Alex so I'm glad Laura is returning full time.

Fantastic show.

Anonymous said...

Please please please recap this! I, like you watched the whole second season in one day. I also agree that the second season is even better!!

FASTTCR said...

Is it really possible to do a recap of a show that you binge watch? The beauty of a good recap is not knowing what's next. If you already know it's not quite the same.

I'll still read (carefully) as I'm not binging but I do miss the suspense and speculation of months of build up to an known destination.

Anonymous said...

Yes please on the recap!

Jack said...

Come on now, you gotta do a show by show recap. I really like your insight and humor.

Though it is a lot for us to ask of you so I understand if you don't.

Anonymous said...

Yes to episode recaps! I would love to hear your take on each episode.

TheWeyrd1 said...

Okay...in light of the binging, I think Snap Caps instead of lengthy recaps might be better. Especially if you do them like the snap caps you did for Lost Girl for the US audience since you'd already done the full recaps earlier for the very lucky Canadians... Just a thought.

Andrea G said...

Please do a episode-by-episode recap..

Spring 2015 is too long a wait and your recaps will definitely help in easing the OITNB withdrawal that most of us are suffering right now.

maya said...

Recap! Recap! Anyway, I just wanted to come out and confess that while I like the show any which way, I loooove the show when it's the Alex/Piper show. Episode 10. Ep-I-Sode 10.

Anonymous said...

Like you, I cleared my calendar, took the day off, sat on my recliner and consumed all 13 in one shot. It was like watching a really, really long movie. I really needed a bit more Piper thought. Love me some Piper.

fridax said...

Yesss for the recaps. True that binge watching takes out a bit of the suspense, but on the other hand we all get the bigger picture of everybody together/apart, as we already know what will happen.

Sheba said...

Yes, please! Bring on those recaps! Because, yeah, we all saw them but...we'd like to process a bit more.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to here your take on the final episode because I think Jenji lost her edge in that one. although I was happy for Ms. Rosa to get her fast ride.