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Shrewsbury, Massachusetts- When House of Cards premiered on Netflix in February last year, one would have expected the network to cash in their chips and go home. But in July they premiered Orange is the New Black, based off of Piper Kerman’s memoir chronicling her time in a woman’s prison. The first season was a knockout, better even than House of Cards. A week ago Netflix released the second season, which I finally had the time to sit through.
After the events of season one, Piper Chapman is briefly transferred to Chicago to testify in a trial before being sent back to Litchfield. As she tries to survive on the inside, she starts to shut out the people on the outside. Meanwhile Red tries to regain her foothold in Litchfield after losing control of the kitchen. Complications arise when an old part of her past comes into Litchfield to cause trouble and the power struggle rocks the whole prison.
The second season of Orange is the New Black does not fail to disappoint. The sophomore season is just as good as the first, elevating an already tremendous show even further. The story manages to rise without feeling repetitive. Jenji Kohan and co. have assembled a wide array of characters and completely fleshed them out with the use of flashbacks, impeccable writing, and a troupe of dedicated actors.
Taylor Schilling is still good as Piper, but she still remains one of the least interesting characters on the show. Kate Mulgrew is still great as Red and has a whole lot to work with now that she is crawling her way to the top. Lorraine Toussant is a welcome new presence as the Burr Redding of this show (that was a little Oz reference, folks) as Vee, the newest inmate to come into Lichtfield. Also this season brought something I wanted from season one: a Crazy Eyes origin with incredible work by Uza Aduba.
The women who are a part of this show are incredibly talented and steal the show. This season had the chance to flesh out some of the more minor prisoners with deeply enriching backstories. Learning more about Tastyee, Pousey, and Rosa makes them more than just eccentric background characters: it makes them people. They are often in Litchfield by their own hand, but some are also victims of the system and the society that created it. What is so great about this show is that it presents a very honest portrayal of these characters.
Orange is the New Black is remarkable television, rich with deep character drama with a dose of humor to boot. The first season stood out amongst the crowd of the already stellar debuts from last year and this season is no different. Whether you binge it all in one sitting or watch it over time, Orange is the New Black continues to be a great series about women and people and remains Netflix’s best show.
Orange is the New Black is streaming on Netflix