Friday, June 26, 2015

More Orangey Goodness

I just finished the third season of Orange Is The New Black.  It came out two weeks ago so that was fast.  The show hasn't changed much, but this season was less about harsh prison life and more about comedy. There's still danger, fear and hardship--people get hurt, even killed--but most of the plots were on a lighter, even sillier, level.

For instance, a major plot was Piper--the protagonist, if there is one--trying to make money selling soiled prison panties to the outside world.  (Apparently there is a business in used panties, though I'm not sure how Piper could guarantee the authenticity of her wares to unknown buyers.) Another plot had silent Norma attracting a cult.  Yet another had women pretending to be Jewish to enjoy the kosher meals the prison offers.  Then there's Crazy Eyes, who starts writing serialized sci-fi porn that the inmates can't get enough of.  There was also a plot where a Martha Stewart-like woman was on trial and the inmates were hoping she'd be sent to their prison--it seemed to be dropped (not unlike the real-life story, where Stewart was not sent to the prison that Piper Kerman went to), but at the last second, it looks like she will be locked in with the gang, but not till next season.

Maybe the biggest change is Larry, Piper's former fiancé, is off the show.  So rather than wonder about her relationship with her boyfriend, the show concentrated on Piper's relationships within the prison, especially with past and present girlfriend Alex.  There's still plenty outside action, though, following the guards and others, as well as in numerous flashbacks for the many characters (there must be thirty to forty regular or recurring roles to keep straight).

The flashbacks were an important part of the show, as always. (Did Lost invent this flashback structure?  I can't recall a show before it that had them as a regular feature.)  They were interesting, but they seemed to be intended to show how different and unexpected the prisoners' backstories are--one followed a cult leader and ended up pushing him off a cliff, another was an Amish girl who left home and got involved in drugs.  I admit it's good drama to have varied stories, but in reality, I believe a lot of people behind bars have stories that are all too similar.

The main story this season was Litchfield Penitentiary is going to be closed down until it's taken over by a corporation. Unfortunately, this led to the expected clichés of a soulless business doing a bare bones job to make short-term profit.  Not the worst plot, I suppose, except for the first two seasons we already had plenty of corruption and complaints about not enough spending.  For example, this season the corporation supplies the cafeteria with large bags of terrible-tasting prepared food (thus the demand for kosher meals).  Okay, fine, but what about the first two seasons where people complained about the meals?  Red, who's back running the kitchen, is now treated as if she's a gourmet chef.

Anyway, a show still worth watching.  And Piper's got enough time left for at least two more seasons.

PS  In one sequence, where a rabbi is questioning prisoners to see if their conversions to Judaism are real, one character says something like "Rush huh, shosh, shosh..." which the CC interprets as "gibberish." Sorry, but that's her attempting to say Rosh Hashanah.

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