So, you might know this scenario, let me now if you do. You are bored, in the mood to watch something new, so you switch on your chosen device and go to Netflix. Upon your arrival you see a television show that you’ve heard and seen people talking about for a while, your interest is sparked and you hit “play” on episode one. Fast-forward a day or two and you look at the clock on the wall, the torn and battered remains of pizza boxes and Pepsi cans around you, and realise you have only gone and “marathoned” two full seasons of a show without taking a breath. This happens a lot, and it happened to me when it came to discovering, watching and being entranced by Orange is the New Black.
I have previously reviewed the first season of this show (here: ) and having recently completed the second season I thought it would only make sense to review that too. The third season is in production and I can’t wait for it to be available.
Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) returns in her prison jumpsuit as we meet back up with our lead character as she is laying in solitary due to the beating she laid on another inmate, who for spoiler reasons I won’t name, at the end of season one. Piper is then put on a plane and transported to another prison in Chicago, no one answering her questions as she freaks out that her violent outburst had caused her to be sent to a more secure prison in another part of the country. She is put into a cell with a new group of inmates who are less than happy about her clumsy entrance into their cell, and so the season begins with Chapman’s future in question and us, as viewers, wondering if we’ve seen the last of the old prison and the characters in it.
The new season is shaken up with new inmates and characters that bring side-stories along with them and influence the goings-on between the walls of the prison. We also see more of the political side of things and enter into a deeper storyline involving the running of the place and the people in charge. Season two takes the template that was so well-done in season one and just improves on it. We still have each episode putting focus on specific inmate stories while simultaneously progressing the main plot, and it still works brilliantly. The comedy is still there and the writing is, once again, spot-on. There is no drop in quality when it comes to the writing, acting and entertainment that this show provides.
I don’t really want to go into new characters too much, because it would spoil the opening episodes of the show and answer questions that are better left unanswered for those yet to watch, but I will say that each new character brings something worthwhile and fresh to the table, and allows new friendships and conflicts to arise. Schilling, as Chapman, yet again proves to be a layered and flawed protagonist, someone whom we can identify with while also disagreeing with and questioning throughout, and that is where the show, in my view, takes it to another level. Instead of refusing to show its lead character in a dim light, the show allows Chapman to make mistakes, take turns that most of us would find immoral, and make regrettable choices. She’s only human, and sometimes human beings can be hard to figure out. Piper is that human being. She is in a rut, confused and angry, and her story only takes more twists and turns during this second season.
Familiar faces return and others bow-out, and by the end of the season we are given a fulfilling conclusion that only tantalises our taste buds for wanting more. Season three is being made and I am certainly excited about watching it when it comes out. This show has surpassed my expectations and, as far as television in 2014 goes, it is up there as one of my favourite experiences. Netflix has both seasons, if you haven’t yet, I urge you to check them out.