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[TV Show Review] Orange is the New Black (Season 2: 2014-)

Official Netflix Website

Plot Summary: We're back at Litchfield for another crazy season of drama, revenge, comedy, power struggles, sex, manipulation, and terrible food.

Producers: Jenji Kohan, Liz Friedman

Original Channel: Netflix

Based On: Piper Kerman's memoir Orange Is the New Black

Runtime: 60 min/episode

Main Cast:

  • Taylor Shilling as Piper Chapman
  • Danielle Brooks as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson
  • Taryn Manning as Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett
  • Laura Prepon as Alex Vause
  • Jason Biggs as Larry Bloom

Review: by Nena

After blowing everyone away with the greatness that was the first season, I had high expectations for Jenji Kohan and her team to avoid the "sophomore slump" and continue delivering the goods. For the most part, they did not disappoint.

What I Liked:

The second season of Orange is the New Black had all of the gasp-inducing drama and plotlines of the first, but with even more this time around due to not only the ramifications of characters’ actions from the first season, but also newly introduced characters who brought their own personalities and emotional baggage to the table.

I really liked that Piper and her many issues weren’t the focus of every episode this time around. I can understand why it was necessary to do that in the first season since we were still getting to know the characters and figuring out the “Litchfield way of life”, as it were. This season gave more of the spotlight to other characters who hadn’t yet been focused on, and it was amazing. One of my favorite characters this season was a complete surprise: Miss Rosa. The elderly bald lady with cancer who’d only appeared in a handful of scenes up until now turned out to have quite an intriguing backstory. Robbing banks and kicking butt while looking awesome and barking out orders to her crew in Spanish? Yes, please! I loved how even cancer couldn’t take away her wickedly sharp wit and one-liners.

Bouncing off of that, many of the older women had larger roles to play this season. Red, despite losing her title as kitchen queen, still had a lot going on in the drama department, especially when her old nemesis, Vee, showed up. Speaking of Vee, Lorraine Toussaint deserves every award possible for this role. Her performance was brilliant. More on her later. Gloria stepped into her role as Red’s successor with no-nonsense authority and plenty of sass, per her usual standard. Sister Ingalls had some interesting moments with her participation in the hunger strike and her passion for inmates’ rights. One set of ladies that particularly stood out this season were the aptly named “Golden Girls” a.k.a. Frieda, Irma, and Taslitz, three of the elderly inmates who took Red into their fold when she’d lost her squad after the incidents of last season and who were much, much more than they seemed. Word to the wise: don’t leave sharp objects around them.

I also liked how the plot continued to develop evenly between character interactions and outside elements impacting the prison. Everyday things like administrative issues, prison corruption, storms, probation, and protests were played out very realistically.

What I Didn’t Like:

The characters I disliked continued to say and do things that reinforced my dislike of them (Piper, Figueroa, Alex, Healy), and a few of the characters I’d previously liked started to get annoying after a while. I will admit that Piper became slightly more tolerable this season since she’d been through some tough situations and gotten off her WASP-y high horse. Bennett and Daya’s relationship/baby drama grew stale over the course of the season, not to mention the fact that they were making stupid decisions (Bennett) and unreasonable demands (Daya). I couldn’t find it in myself to care about their situation as much as I used to.

Vee. Vee, Vee, Vee. As I mentioned before, if Lorraine Toussaint doesn’t get some kind of award for her performance, it will be a terrible shame. I’m putting Vee in both categories because I absolutely despised her as a character, which is a testament to Ms. Toussaint’s amazing talent. Vee was a textbook psychopath. Calculating, manipulative, violent, and completely unremorseful, Vee had no redeeming qualities save for her charm, and even that was used for evil. There was not a single drop of goodness or compassion within her. She took Taystee under her wing and pretended to be a mother figure to her only to use Taystee’s love and loyalty for her own benefit at every possible opportunity and sabotage Taystee’s friendships (most notably with Poussey) when she perceived them as infringing on her schemes. The psychologist in me wanted to know what (or who) made Vee into such a vile person and what the motivation for her behavior was beyond money and power. I felt like there had to be an underlying factor of some kind that we didn’t know about, so I was upset that we didn’t get to see any of Vee’s past from before she met Taystee.

Sophia didn’t have nearly as much of a prominent role this season, which disappointed me a little. I understand that she is just one part of a large cast of characters who all, for one reason or another, deserve a turn in the spotlight, but I’m spoiled on Laverne Cox’s great acting and I wanted more. Sue me.

Without spoiling too much, I also felt that Larry and Polly both made decisions this season that had a strongly negative impact on my opinion of them as characters. I was unable to see either of them in the same light after certain events occurred.

Images Courtesy of IMDB

  • Awesome review. You definitely went into complete detail of it. I wasn’t as impressed with Season 2 as I was season 1, but I do still love the show and can’t wait for season 3 of it.

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