It’s Been a While…

 

Yeah, I know, no one but me is reading this so it really doesn’t matter how long it has been! I was interested to see the Breaking Bad mania here as I’ve had quite a few new TV obsessions since last posting. Coming soon (if I get the urge!)

Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – probably the best new show in years, prison dramady with a brilliant diverse cast

Transparent (Amazon) – the on demand revolution produces a groundbreaking comedy/drama classic

Once Upon a Time – since I discovered SwanQueen fan fiction, my Once interest has been reawakened.

Pretty Little Liars – another show I’ve been a casual fan of for a while but got more and more into

Orphan Black – fantastic sci-fi drama featuring a standout performance from Tatiana Maslaney as a bunch of clones

I’m also into:

Jane the Virgin, Major Crimes, Elementary, Haven, Game of Thrones, Covert Affairs, The Leftovers, Fargo, The Good Wife, Revenge, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, The Honourble Woman, Homeland, Borgen, Happy Valley, Line of Duty, Scott & Bailey, Broadchurch, Gracepoint, Faking It, Ugly Betty, Star Trek Voyager, Rizzoli & Isles, American Horror Story, Stalker, Arrow, Doctor Who and probably a whole lot more I can’t think of.

So, Orange is the New Black. Terrible title, fantastic show! Coming out of nowhere, OITNB was Netflix’ second foray into original programming after the Kevin Spacey US adaptation of House of Cards, a classy production directed by David Fincher and a very high profile effort that was pretty enjoyable largely thanks to Spacey and Robin Wright as his equally scheming wife.

OITNB on the other hand was very much an unknown quantity. Produced by Jenji Kohan, whose previously created the successful Weeds starring Mary Louise Parker, this 10 part series was based on the book of the same name by Piper Kerman, a middle class girl who almost 10 years after carrying cash for her drug runner girlfriend, is jailed at a minimum security prison where she meets a variety of inmates, including her ex!

Taylor Schilling, as Piper is our way in but it is the diverse cast and sharp writing that kept me glued to my tv for a binge watch one weekend. There are not too many big names in the cast. Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway herself) plays Russian cook Red, still best know for doing things in American Pie, Jason Biggs is Piper’s unbearable boyfriend Larry, Natasha Lyonne has been absent from screens for a while since breaking out in But I’m a Cheerleader. Laura Prepon as Alex, Piper’s ex was on That 70s Show (not that I ever watched) – so there weren’t too many recognisable faces, yet after just a few episodes, the characters really came to life. The Piper/Alex/Larry triangle was a lot of fun to watch as we learned more about Piper and her past, Taystee and Poussey were among my favourites, Miss Claudette, Yoga Jones, the latina girls who love The Smiths, Sophia was a really groundbreaking character, a transwoman played by a trans actress. The show also pulled in directors like Jodie Foster (yes THAT Jodie Foster!) whose episode about Sophia’s backstory was fantastic. It also told us more about the brilliant Crazy Eyes, probably everyone’s favourite S1 character.

Hilarious book references – especially from Taystee – were highly enjoyable, I also loved the show’s totally frank discussions of sex and female sexuality. It was also fascinating to watch the way characters were developed. Piper seemed like that ‘nice white lady’ at first, but by the end of S1 we see a much more complicated person. Not nice at times, pretty heartless and selfish a lot of the time. Larry the supportive boyfriend is a wastral who exploits the women to further his writing career, drug dealing bad girl Alex has her soft side too (and Laura Prepon rocks those black glasses!)

So many fantastic characters, so well written and acted, such great storylines. Season 1 of OITNB is almost perfect.

When the second season aired in June of this year, there was a lot more expectation, and on the whole it delivered. New baddie Vee played by Lorraine Toussaint was fabulously awful! However, she made baddies out of Suzanne(Crazy Eyes) and our beloved Taystee. Laura Prepon was unavailable for all but a couple of episodes, and Piper really did become part of the ensemble rather than the lead. It was still very well written and acted, but the alterations to the focus – Vee and Red’s power struggle taking up much of the season – make it not quite as enjoyable for me. However, still fantastic, but not quite as perfect.

Season 3 is filming (or more likely has probably finished filming) and I just hope they can keep the quality up now it is a higher profile show.