Tag Archives: oitnb

TV Review – Orange is the New Black – Season 6 Review (Spoilers Abound)

Hey 3.5 readers.

I don’t have time to give this season the in-depth review it deserves, so I’ll try to break it down quickly.

I felt the first couple seasons were an interesting look into prison life.  Hollywood tends to really ham up prison portrayals –  i.e. that classic scene where the main character enters the joint for the first time and the prisoners throw rain garbage and flaming pieces of whatever down upon him out of their cells.

While I’m sure violence is an ever present threat in prisons (and is portrayed a lot on this show) the show gave an aspect that other shows about the clink rarely showed, i.e., that it’s all one great big glorified high school for adults, complete with social cliques, winners, losers, a great big fishbowl where everyone is in everyone else’s business and the slightest bit of gossip can wreak all kinds of havoc.

I felt in later seasons, the show started to jump the shark as the more outrageous the shenanigans got.  At times, some of the tomfoolery seemed unlikely and increasingly far fetched.

But this last season really brought the series home.

Here, the OITNB girls, or a segment of them anyway, end up in the “max” prison, following a riot that goes bad.  Alas, they find themselves as pawns in the neverending war between two geriatric sisters with a longstanding grudge that has existed since the 1980s.

Lots of emotion, sadness, all sorts of bad things happen.

If the showrunners wanted to, they could probably end the series here.  Piper goes home and assumedly, like the real Piper she was based on, will write a book about her time in the can.

Vause looks like she will atone for her sin of putting Piper in prison in the first place – then again, maybe not as it looks like the boss she had to swear allegiance to in order to get Piper off the hook is no longer around.

Taystee goes down for a crime she didn’t commit but is the poster child for how the system swallows poor young African Americans up.

Black Cindy will forever want to do the right thing, be unable to do the right thing, but always feel guilty for not doing the right thing.

I could go on and on, there are so many characters that I dont think it’s possible for all of their storylines to be resolved (other than most of them will be in the slammer for a long time) I think overall, this season finale brought home a lot of stuff for the main members of the ensemble.

I’ve read that there will be a season 7.  I assume this will be where Piper the ex-inmate becomes Piper the author.  Perhaps the writers will figure out a way to get Taystee out of the fix she is in.

At times, the show goes overboard and over the top.  Sometimes I think it is too liberal as many of the women are portrayed as poor little birds who couldn’t help but be there.  Many of the back stories show people who started out somewhat ok, then just made one bad choice and ended up in jail.  Flaca, for example, sold colored pieces of paper, told kids it was acid to make a buck, only to be charged when a classmate was dumb enough to believe he was tripping when he wasn’t and kill himself.

But then at other times, the show will get real…sometimes too real…the backstory scene where we learn what the 1980s bitties did to get locked up is too scary for words.

Guards are often portrayed as roid addled, power tripping losers but then we also see how they suffer behind the scenes too.

The show could end here and be a rare show that ties up all the ends but it sounds like it has at least another season left.  The writers will have to keep towing that difficult to balance light between humor and abject horror, never going too far into one side or the other.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.



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Writing Choices – Orange is the New Black and Polarizing Social Issues

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here with another installment of “Writing Choices.”

If you’re like me, you look forward to OITNB’s return in June every year on Netflix.  It’s been a guilty pleasure for me for a long time now.  Hard to believe the fifth season started streaming yesterday.

I have only watched the first episode of the fifth season so I can’t give you any new spoilers and would appreciate you not giving me any.

That’s ok because I actually want to talk about the last episode of Season 4.

Police shootings and/or fatalities in police custody have been in the news a lot lately in the past few years.  This topic is often polarizing.  One side usually says something like, “There’s no excuse when people die in police custody so throw the cops in jail!”  and then the other side is all like, “You have no idea how hard it is to be a police officer, what with the split second, life or death decisions that they have to make every day.  You could never do it yourself so stop being so hard on the police.”

Is it possible that there are times when an accident happens and no one is at fault?

Case in point, and LOOK AWAY BECAUSE A BIG SPOILER IS COMING, at the end of Season 4, dies while being pinned to the floor by CO Bayley.  We’re never really given a clear explanation as to how the death happened.  Basically, he holds her down and after a short time, she’s not moving or breathing anymore.

Tragic.  Sad.  The public demands someone to blame.  The company that oversees the prison immediately wants a scapegoat to present to the public.  At first, they demand Warden Caputo get on TV and portray Poussey in a negative light, that she was a bad egg, out of control, etc.

Caputo won’t do that so then the company shifts gears and demands that Caputo throw Bayley under the bus.  They find an old photo of Bayley dressed up as Rambo for Halloween and want to portray him as some kind of violent, militaristic nut job.

Caputo refuses to do that either.  Instead, he goes on TV and gives his take – that the prison is overcrowded, understaffed, and that a young officer who was barely trained was thrown into a situation he had no idea what to do with and a tragic accident happened.

Caputo’s explanation satisfies no one, especially a public that tends to see issues as black and white and demands that a villain be strung up anytime something goes wrong, but he is convinced he made the right call.

In a flashback episode, we see CO Bayley and Poussey at an earlier time, before they ended up at Litchfield as an officer and an inmate, respectively.  Bayley is a recent high school graduate and a total doofus who has just been fired from an ice cream parlor job for giving free ice cream to girls he likes.  Poussey is young and care free as well.

Bayley and his buddies and Poussey and her friends go on an outing to New York City.  In one fleeting scene, Bayley and Poussey pass each other on the street, neither noticing the other because they had yet to meet and had no reason to recognize each other but the point was clear – life may seem great now but you never know when it will take a turn for the worse.  You’re out there today, trying to live your life, trying to make the most of it but then, wham, it could all come crashing down in an instant.

But the other meaning behind this scene – they were both young, dumb kids.  Poussey was doing her best until she made a mistake that landed her in prison.  Bayley was trying to do his best, getting a job at a prison in the hopes of supporting himself, restraining an inmate as he was ordered to do except he did it wrong…life is good, until you screw up, and then it isn’t.

Poussey never set out to become a convict.  Bayley’s life long dream wasn’t to kill someone.  Somehow, shitty things just happen and shitty results happen.

Overall, I felt Season 4 of OITNB handled this very polarizing issue in a way that was fair to all sides.  Perhaps there are times when a tragedy happens and there isn’t someone who can be clearly pointed to as the villain.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – What TV shows are you watching?

Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black presently for this nerd.

What shows are you watching?

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Ask the Alien – 7/19/15 – Marion Stein – Alien and/or Yoga Jones

By:  Alien Jones, Intergalactic Correspondent

Greetings Earth losers!

The magnanimous mind of Alien Jones here, once again bringing you the knowledge required to raise your planet above its current status as the laughing stock of the Milky Way.

Author Marion Stein asks:

Ah, the confusion is understandable.  Madam, I do believe you have confused Yoga Jones with…

A Jones doing yoga.

… a Jones doing yoga.

Don’t worry about it.  Happens all the time.  While I’m at it, allow me to deny being the relative of:

  • Tommy Lee Jones (that craggy faced actor who once told The Fugitive he didn’t care and to put the gun down now.)
  • Shirley Jones (Matriarch of The Partridge Family)
  • Angus T. Jones (The half-man on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men)
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones (Welsh actress, ex-wife of Michael Douglas.)
  • James Earl Jones (Voice of Darth Vader, Mustafa, and CNN)
  • January Jones (Don Draper’s first wife, the one he cheated on a lot but wishes he hadn’t)

For the record, my name actually isn’t Alien Jones.  The closest written approximation of my real name is:

H’awa’lekquar Zalazalazalazalazaladimmadimaballa Koveenomix Tromphilogate Scriblero 17.5 Twanny Twim Twally Bolorolax Bek ZsaZsaGabor Heeka heeka heeka heeka AWOLLAGAX!

That translation really doesn’t do it justice.

You might have noticed there’s a “Zsa Zsa Gabor” in there.  No, I don’t share a name with an aristocratic Hungarian actress of the 1960’s.  In my language, “ZsaZsa” means “Peace” and “Gabor” means prosperity.  Thus, there’s the old tradition on my planet of saying, “Good day to you, and may much Zsa Zsa Gabor come your way!”

To properly pronounce my name, you’d have to:

  •  Pull out your tongue
  • Allow another person to jump over it like it was a jumprope
  • Tie it in a knot
  • Untie it again and…
  • Lick a frog

You don’t actually have to lick a frog.  I just wanted to see if someone out there would.

Thus, since my name is so difficult to pronounce, I just go with an Earthly last name, hence “Alien Jones.”

Are you a fan of Orange is the New Black?  Admittedly, my boss, the Mighty Potentate, is a fan as well.  With its mix of humor and drama, not to mention rich character development, His Supreme Fabulousness deems this program to be one more blow against the impending tide of unscripted reality television.  Quality fiction is the only thing that can stop the menace that is reality TV from spreading across the universe.

On Marion’s blog, marionstein.net, one can find a number of articles that can help humans improve their intelligence. Thank goodness I’m not the only one devoted to this Herculean effort.

Further, Bookshelf Q. Battler’s 3.5 readers can check out Marion’s Amazon Author Page.  “Blood Diva” seems like an especially saucy tale, one about a French courtesan turned vampire.

BQB:  Alien Jones!  What do aliens call vampires?

AJ:  Attorneys!

Bookshelf Battle Blog Legal Counsel Delilah K. Donnelly of Pop Culture Mysteries fame excluded, of course.

Interestingly, Marion’s author page notes she has a background as a social worker.  I view myself as a social worker of sorts.  What do I do if not help humans become better people by sharing with them the knowledge of my genius brain?

And believe you me, I do this work because it’s a labor of love on my part, and not, as rumored, because the Mighty Potentate has threatened to shoot me out of a cannon directly into one of my home planet’s many suns if I fail to do so.

Thank you for your question, Marion.  Continue to educate the humans with your words.  I can’t be the only one on the job.

Alien Jones is the Intergalactic Correspondent for the Bookshelf Battle. Do you have a question for the Esteemed Brainy One? Submit it to Bookshelf Q. Battler via a tweet to @bookshelfbattle, leave it in the comment section on this site, or drop it off on the Bookshelf Battle Google + page. If AJ likes your question, he might promote your book, blog, or other project while providing his answer.

Submit your questions by midnight Friday each week for a chance to be featured in his Sunday column. And if you don’t like his response, just let him know and he’ll file it into the recycling bin of his monolithic super computer. No muss, no fuss, no problem.

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