Friday, June 12, 2015

On Netflix: Same Old Routine on 'Orange is the New Black'

After a powerful and manipulative tornado named Vee ripped through Litchfield in season two of Netflix's hit dramedy series "Orange is the New Black",  things have come back to normal, or even the monotonous, in the follow-up season that premiered a few hours earlier of its June 12 release.

The season starts off quite soft with a Mother's Day celebration at the clink which was a nice breather after everything that had happened at Litchfield in the last season. This allowed us to get reacquainted with a few of our favorites: Red is out of the infirmary; Daya is still pregnant; Poussey, Taystee and Black Cindy are doing whatever they do; and everyone else is everyone else.

Taking a turn for the worse, Alex is "magically" back at Litchfield, continuing a tireless plotline of Piper and her (former) lover still crossing paths at what seems to be the only women's prison in the country - or one of two, after another was temporarily featured at the start of season two.

As the show slowly gets its footing. We find out Litchfield maybe closing, Alex and Piper are angrily in love with each other, and Bennett and Daya are engaged, yet the baby drama doesn't end when Pornstache's mother gets entangled in a shakedown scheme to adopt the baby.

This appears to be the main driving points of the season this year, and with the regular order of 13 episodes it's going to be a long one, and one that will focus strongly on the show's most uninteresting character: its lead, Piper.

It's hard to have a show about any lead character when they're not interesting after the first season. Seeing Piper struggle adjusting to prison life was great, but with all of the time after that focusing more and more on Alex it becomes a drawn-out exercise of whining and a never-ending carousel of emotions that doesn't stop in every episode.

Seeing that season three will, once again, focus on that on-again, off-again relationship, Piper and Alex's only plot on the show has already been played out, but how to compensate for that?

Sure, there are a bunch of funny, endearing and colorful cast members in this diverse ensemble, but nothing they bring to the table can bring the show back up to it's great second season with Lorraine Toussaint's scene-stealing performance as Vee. No subplots or actions are leaving me with an urgency to keep going to the next episode. I keep watching because it feels like a chore: you may want to hold it off until later, but you half-ass getting through it just to be done.

The show is as masterfully created as it ever and the cast is flawless as always, but nothing at Litchfield seems to be going on. The characters are routine and the biggest plot points are ones not even being built up to amount to much by season's end.

Rating: C

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