I also changed my mind about what I thought the show would be, so if anyone is hesitant here's why it was worth the ride for me.
When I started this months ago, I had finished Season One and I was going to basically say:
"If you liked Oz, don't bother with this one, unless you really liked the old TV show 'Facts of Life,' because this is what that show's reunion show would look like."
You know, if it happened in a minimum security prison.
Before you read my Season One thoughts, I must admit I have Song of Ice and Fire Disease, in which everything I read and watch that doesn't have swordfights and dragons and beheadings is SUPER BORING in comparison.
Mayhaps I'm also jaded by my family and my experiences visiting my brother in juvey. There were some very colorful characters in there. I felt like the writers of Season One probably should have visited actual prisons, and maybe read more than just the one book about prison, ala Piper, but the book this show is based on, was based on one person's experience.
Orange Is The New Facts Of Life
The character dynamics are very similar, and some of the OITNB actresses even visually resemble FoL. You have the spoiled rich girl, Blair, as Piper Chapman. She's the girl we love to hate. When I say "we" I mean ME. She has, IMHO, an inflated sense of justice, she's whiny, entitled, everything is about her, and any little inconvenience that happens upon her is the END OF THE WORLD as we know it. She takes, she uses people, she's still miserable.
Yep, they almost all wear prison makeup in OITNB,
but it's quite a step above real life marker and Kool-Aid lipstick.
Alex is the tough, trouble-making butch but TV-pretty character, Joe. She comes from the wrong side of the tracks, her decisions are based more on survival than self service. The richgirl character pretends to hate her, but is jealous of her strength and independence.
And just like Facts of Life, the less than subtle lesbianic vibe reads: The Blair character really wants the Joe character, even if she doesn't want to want to.
|A dude or a curious girl. from s1.zetaboards.com|
Like any effective mother figure, if you don't follow the rules, there are consequences, anything from a smack upside the head to...again, no spoilers.
Red is played by the amazing Kate Mulgrew, an actress that immediately exudes leadership to me ever since seeing her as Captain Janeway on Star Trek's Voyager series. Look at this slaymama in uniform: Full-on Nerd Boner Girl Crush.
|Star Fleet captains were all Red HOT|
|I know, girl, me too|
Fun Facts of Life: Mindy Cohen who played Natalie was the voice of Velma on Scooby Doo. Her character wasn't part of the original Facts of Life script, she reminded Charlotte Rae (Misses Garrett) of her real-life friend Natalie, so they wrote in her character.
Taystee like Natalie, is very comfortable in herself, and puts on a tough front, though she longs to be 'in' anywhere and be a part of something. She's also a constant knee-slapper.
|See they meant "you're" apostrophe-R-E|
There is no OITNB character that is as strong, though there are several very special characters in OITNB, not the least of which is Crazy Eyes.
She doesn't have Geri's positive world message or inner strength, and her back story explains why.
That's her to the right. I dunno who gave her this name, but I've seen crazier eyes on my 2 year old.
There is also the lovely whitetrash meth head, Pennsatucky. She has a real name, but who cares? Pennsatucky is perfect for her personality. She seems to be a victim of religious zeal, but there are many sad layers to her. Once you know just why she's in prison, you know...well you just know. She is a very strong special character, but she doesn't have Geri's intelligence.
|I'm an angel of God, I mean look at my dress. from tv.com|
|ADORABLE, right? from jennytonic.com|
|SO MANY .gifs, so little time. from hopeforfaith.tumblr.com|
|Did they have a hockey team? I dunno, lemme MULLET over. from today.com|
|And I LOVE that he said "the blonde one and the HOT one"|
I had mixed feelings going into OITNB. It took me awhile to get through Season One, I'm glad I stuck with it. I like shows with action (read: violence) especially about prison, war, etc., and even though HBO's Oz had it's typical gratuitous violence and nudity, usually not germane to the plot (as in "Game of Thrones") I couldn't help but compare it to this show, making it fall short in my opinion initially.
Season Two is so much better than the fluffy-ish feel of Season One. Let's face it, the shows craziest character calls the main character "Dandelion" and that tells you most of what you need to know.
|actual item for sale on Etsy|
This character's name is literally Crazy Eyes, and the craziest thing she does? Is spew poetry to someone she's in love with, have a quick temper and a wayward bodily function.
Whoa, s0o0o crazy *eye roll*
That happens in my house almost every week.
For the first at least half of Season One, I was ready to give up on it. It took me a long time to get through all of my hating Piper and then really hating Piper. Then they finally got to the part where they start telling the stories of the other characters: Why are they there, what makes them tick. This is what saved the show for me. Any book that has a story I'm not clicking with, I'll stick it out if there is good character development.
Piper's S1 character was hard for me to relate to, and her super annoying characteristics are hard to take. I mean, I've seen no less than 10,000,000 shows with a toilet out in the open in public cell. I get it, it's not ideal, but I can't believe anyone who didn't just drop from a spaceship would be surprised by this.
Her blaming everyone in the world except herself for being there, and adjusting to prison part goes on way too long, and is beyond irritating. It's like the show is geared toward scaring young children straight, except this show doesn't exactly have a G rating for young children. Even though Season One probably should.
This is a Crazy Eyes clip and it sums it all up, the craziest we see in Season 1. If you haven't watched all of Season 1, you may want to skip, but this isn't a plot spoiler.
That was my summation of Season 1.
Now then. That said.
Season Two, though.
Whole 'Nuther Level.
Either someone broke into my draft post about Season 1 and they let someone else write the scripts for Season 2,
the writers went off all their meds.
And they should stay off.
They seemed to have come to life, like that Robin Williams movie where they give the frozen patients that medicine that allows them to move and dance again.
All the missing action from Season One? Is right here and it barely eases into it. It's just
The script writers must have watched Game of Thrones, because it reeks of George RR Martin's quill. Err keyboard. He writes the books in DOS, yes, but he uses a keyboard.
As much as I want to post pic, gifs and clips of the Season 2, I don't want to throw down any spoilers. I'll stop here and do a Part Two at a later date, but know that Season Two of OITNB is everything you want a prison show to be and a bag of pork rinds. It is a chick show, so don't force your BF to watch it, unless he's into girl-on-girl action, but S2 is better, so much more fun.
The shock of it's juxtaposition from Season 1's Book Club feel makes for quite the wild ride. If you started watching and stopped, keep pushing through.
On a superficial non-story level, we get new characters, the conditions of the prison are a little more challenging. The food, the horrible facilities, the struggle of the people who are supposed to be in charge of the prison, etc.
OITNB Fact: There is an article explaining the difference between the show and reality, and what is being done to raise awareness of some of the cruel and unusual conditions in the actual prison:
If you have watched all of Season 2, let's talk in more detail in the comments. Those Golden Girls!
**If you're not caught up, don't, as in do NOT read the comments, they may contain spoilers.**
So, in summary:
Comedy bonus. This is the audition tape of Uzo Aduba, aka "Crazy Eyes" and it's proves she could play every character on the show. This is HYSTERICAL, you'll love her even more. You can skip to 30 seconds in.
Are you watching?
Having fun with Season 2?
Who is your favorite character?