My delayed but still relevant reaction to OITNB Season 2

THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!

So social media blew up a few weeks ago when season 2 of Orange is the New Black was released on Netflix. And now with it’s recent Emmy nominations (shout out to Laverne Cox!) people who never considered watching the series will tune in to see what the hype is about. I personally was late to the OITNB hype. I had mixed feelings about the show after watching season 1, because I liked a lot of the characters, but wished that there could be a popular show full of strong women who are not in prison. So here’s my shortlist of what I liked and did not like about season 2. Based on the way it ended with Nickels and Boo hiding that heroine, season 3 should be interesting…

 

What I liked…

  • We finally got to see the full complexity of Red’s character. I enjoyed learning about her history with Vee, the tragic closing of her family’s store, how she was able to get contraband into the prison, etc. Her gang of old ladies in the greenhouse provided comic relief — even when they shanked the wrong black woman.
  • Pennsytucky. I have been hosting my own personal Twitter rally to get Taryn Manning nominated for an Emmy and you should join me. Her character is so damn crazy and I enjoy every second of it. I can’t wait until we learn her back story.
  • Can I just say that the Latinas on OITNB are the bomb?! This season we learned more about Maritza through the visits with her chulo fiance and infant daughter. Based on her boyfriend’s appearance I assume that Maritza is in there for something gang related, but we don’t know this for sure. What I will say is that chulo fiance (who does not speak ever) is bringing a new face to fatherhood and commitment.
  • Finding out that Morello is a bat shit crazy stalker changed my life. I never saw that twist coming, but I am so glad that it did.
  • Nickels is everyone’s first prison friend and seems like a generally cool chick. I want to be her friend in real life.
  • Poussey always wins. Samira Wiley, who portrays Poussey, has given this character so much integrity and intelligence, and she’s pretty with no make-up on. She breaks up all of the stereotypes about black women, lesbians, military brats, drug dealers, world education, and is just generally wonderful. I’m glad that her friendship with Taystee is back on track.
  • Prior to learning more about Piper’s mom this season it was very easy to assume that this suburban, rich girl was so different than the women around her. However, this season showed us that Piper came from a messed up family and the reason she allows toxic people to remain in her life and continues to be a perfectly good waste of white privilege is because her mother modeled that for her.
  • The best part about OITNB Season 2 was really being able to see the moment when inmates go from repentance and remorse to survival mode. We keep people in prison entirely too long, and the PTSD that they come out with prevents them from living full lives and having a chance at rehabilitation. Season 2 dug deeper and has started to use this comedy about a women’s prison as a means to shed light on women’s issues. Kudos!

What I disliked…

  • Piper. She is such a despicable protagonist. Frank Underwood in House of Cards has killed so many people that I’ve lost count, and yet I am rooting for him and all of his elitist, entitled machismo more than I can root for Piper Chapman.
  • Vee. Though I was fascinated by seeing Lorraine Toussaint (who normally plays very upwardly mobile characters) do something different, Vee had to go. I was so happy when she got hit by that car I didn’t know what to do. How dare you manipulate everybody and ruin everything, then walk away like nothing happened?!
  • I didn’t like seeing the tension that developed between Poussey and Tastee. Every friendship has its hurdles (and being in prison is a big one), but I thought that shower scene was the end of their friendship. Forgiveness in unforgivable circumstances is hard.
  • I was looking forward to finding out why everyone’s favorite cooking Nuyorican Gloria ended up in prison, and then I found out it was for selling food stamps. We send people to prison for the stupidest things in this country. Garnish her wages or tarnish her credit, but don’t send her to prison.
  • Piper allowing Alex to play her time-and-time again has gotten old. She must have a magical tongue, because I don’t understand.
  • The weird contextualization of homosexuality and the vague separation of being a lesbian and being straight in prison is something that stumps most of us, but now that it’s on TV I’m even more stumped. At what point does your sexual preference overrule your sexual desire and vice versa. The reason this is on the dislike list is because I don’t want this to send the wrong message about what being gay or straight really entails.
  • This sick relationship between Dalia and the guard is not as toxic as Olivia and Fitz on Scandal, but it’s trying to go there. When the bottom falls out on this foolery it will be good TV, but in the meantime it’s on my nerves. I wish she would just have this baby.
  • I realize that we needed more Asian representation on OITNB, but why Brooke SoSo? This character perpetuates so many stereotypes about Asians, and yet is in prison for a crime that we do not associate with Asians! It’s frustrating. She needs to go. Try again writers. There are two Asians on OITNB and both are strange as hell.
  • What I disliked the most about Season 2 was the lack of humor. Season 1 was hilarious. This season was a bummer. I guess with great ratings comes great social responsibility to actually offer insight into prison life, but I miss some of those quick one-liners.
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