Monday, June 15, 2015

OITNB

I read some review somewhere of the first episode of Orange is the New Black on the weekend before I dove into a marathon session of the entire season.  It suggested that the reason people like the show is because it actually shows real relationships between real women.  The context is divorced from most viewer's experiences, but the conversations are similar.  And we rarely see that elsewhere.

No spoilers.

Okay, sure.  It's nice that it's a show about women, for sure, and the dialogue is fantastic - especially between Big Boo and Pennsatucky.  But I don't relate to it because of the conversations and relationships, but because of the individual experiences.  I can relate to the experience of not having my little one with me on Mother's Day, or being trapped with some slime ball "friend" and hoping to find a way out, or watching someone getting away with crap because they're good at playing the system.  Those are universally frustrating and heartbreaking situations.  And the peek into the background of each character individually gives us a three-dimensional understanding of their motives and beliefs and longings - and their development of various coping mechanisms to deal with the world.

But beyond the personal, this season gets into privatization - how it works, how to try to stop it, why we can't win - so well that it could be mandatory viewing for a unit of one of the courses I teach.  And, at the same time, it gets into faith - why we crave it, the need for totems, and communal belonging.  And, as always, it gets into the injustices of the world.  Sometime jerks win, and good guys lose, and vengeance feels good even when it feels a little bad.  And we don't ever know people as much as we think we do.  We just barely know ourselves.

You don't have to be a woman to connect with that.


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