5 reasons to be excited for season 2 of Orange Is The New Black

It’s now just under a month until OITNB returns on 6 June, when those bloody great people at Netflix will upload the whole of season two for our consumption. So you better clear your schedules for that weekend, or at least that day if you’re really committed.

Here’s five reasons to get even more excited about the return of the Litchfield gang.

Contains spoilers from season 1

  1. The season ended with Piper basically beating Pensatucky to death (although she may not actually be dead). Either way, what the HECK is going to happen re: that last scene? Surely Piper can’t spend the rest of the entire show in SHU? Though, be warned, the trailer for season 2 shows that she’s kind of changed from the happy, soap-making gal she was before she went inside, as she announces: “I’m a lone wolf and a vicious one”.piper and pensa
  2. There’s a new character and with her comes a whole new feud with everyone’s favourite russian red-head AKA, Red. The trailer for season 2 shows the arrival of Yvonee “Vee” Parker – an old “friend” of Red’s. I get the vibe that Red is a bit peeved about this as she doesn’t seem overly enthused in the trailer: “A woman I knew a long time ago came back in yesterday.”red
  3. The imminent arrival of Daya and Bennett’s baby. Daya’s plan is that Bennett’s fellow officer, Mendez (AKA Pornstache) will be assumed to be the father of her child after she set him up last season. But that all seems a bit straightforward – are they going to be able to pull it off and keep up their secret relationship? Realistically, probs not.teeth
  4. More backstories, and lots of em. There’s still loads of characters that we don’t know that much about. Morello is one of them and if the trailer’s anything to go off, we’ll be finding out a whole lot more about her life pre-prison. Either that, or she got out of jail and the first thing she did was buy a denim dress. Both are plausible options.morello
  5. After a brief stint in the outside world, Taystee is back. Need I say more?taystee

You can watch the trailer for season two here:

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Blurred Lines – National Theatre, The Shed

Blurred-Lines-NT_2794882bIts title inspired by the infamous song from Sexist-of-the-Year Robin Thicke, Blurred Lines explores contemporary gender politics through sketches and songs.

Written by Nick Payne and directed by Carrie Cracknell, the piece covers prostitution, rape and workplace sexism. It opens with the eight-strong female cast reeling off stereotypical roles – “Northern blonde, bubbly” and “killer’s wife, non-speaking”. This is not a drama where you invest in characters and their story.

We are reminded that these are actors, presumably to place focus on the ideas. In one scene, a married couple discuss the man’s use of prostitutes who, he maintains, are in the profession by choice. But what precedes this is them bickering about who will play husband or wife, which detracts from a compelling scene. By making us aware that we are watching an act, it’s difficult to engage emotionally. Combined with the sketch format, this can be confusing and lessens the impact of ideas.

It’s a strong cast and, at times, a good script, as demonstrated by the workplace scene. A woman is confronted by her bosses who believe baby vomit on her clothes is “indicative” of her inability to cope. It raises working mother issues in an entertaining way as the female boss is painfully patronising while trying to remain politically correct.

But this scene also shows how the set detracts from powerful moments. A white staircase lit up with red lights is visually impressive but leaves the cast awkwardly navigating it in scenes where it has no relevance.

The only time the staircase works is during the performances of songs including The Crystals’ “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)” and Tammy Wynette’s “Don’t Liberate Me (Love Me)”. Interspersed between scenes, the songs work well to punctuate different points.

It concludes with a false ending – a Q&A featuring Marion Bailey as misogynistic male director and Sinead Matthew as submissive actress, discussing his motivation for including a violent bedroom scene. Sitting arrogantly with legs apart, Bailey’s performance is entertaining, but the play they discuss is not the one we have just seen – metatheatre at its most confusing.

At a time when a new wave of feminism is gaining momentum, Blurred Lines could have explored gender politics in an entertaining and thought-provoking way, but it presents issues we already know exist, without any comment. It presumably intends to make us think, but provides nothing new to think about. Like the stairs to nowhere, the play consistently tries to reach a point but never quite gets to it.

Girls: Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2

girls-s3It’s back. The only thing I would interrupt my relentless Breaking Bad marathon for: Girls.

In a nutshell:

  • Shosh is loving the single life
  • Marnie is moaning about everything (as per)
  • Hannah and Adam seem to have finally got it together
  • Jessa has been located – she’s in rehab (being kooky)

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Orange Is The New Black: Episode 9

We’ve heard a lot about SHU, but it was starting to take on a kind of mythical existence, having not been shown in any of the previous eight episodes. I imagine this is deliberate, in order to instil ‘the fear’ of SHU into the audience, just as it is instilled in the inmates. Well we finally experience the SHU in this episode, and it’s safe to say that it lives up to the hype. SHU is awful.

solitary Continue reading

Orange Is The New Black: Episode 8

ep 8 oitnbA bad case of the flu is doing the rounds at the Litch. Piper, ever the craftsman, has whipped up some face masks made from sanitary towels – who knew they had so many other uses? Mrs Claudette isn’t largely impressed by the prospect of wearing a sanitary towel on her face. “I look like Michael Jackson”, she says. Piper proceeds to simultaneously start moon dancing and correcting her: “no, you’ve got the wrong skin tone. I look like Michael Jackson.” Either way, it seems they are finally getting along and Mrs Claudette has gotten over the whole urine on the floor/rogue screwdriver/Piper generally annoying her situation. Continue reading

Orange Is The New Black: Episode 7

Watson arrives back from the dreaded SHU (Segregated Housing Unit) after she was sent there in relation to the screwdriver incident. She and Chapman have to fix an electrical problem in the ceiling which means crawling around in a very small space. Chapman takes this time to be overly nice to Watson, offering to make her earplugs out of pillow cases and all sorts. Watson is onto Chapman – no one is that nice for no reason. She realises that Chapman was the cause of screwdriver-gate and she’s not happy, but says she’s not a snitch.

watson

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Orange Is The New Black: Episode 6

nicky-oitnb

In the last few episodes we’ve had a missing screwdriver, a potentially non-existent chicken on the loose, and now there’s apparently a mobile phone floating around in the prison. Figueroa tells Caputo to sort it out – she’s been hearing things about an inmate at the Litch appearing on prisonpoon.com (exactly what it sounds like). She tell Caputo that if he can get to the bottom of it, there might be a pay rise in it for him – ‘it is so depressing working with a man who works below 40K.’ Continue reading