Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black Cast

Last week Noah Berlatsky at The Atlantic made a wholly misguided, and frankly puzzling argument about Orange Is the New Black. An argument that, in his own words, “may seem like a silly complaint.” To summarize the silliness, he felt the show does a great job in representing the diverse population of women in the prison system, creating complex and gratifying roles for varied women — black, Latina, elderly, lesbian, bisexual, trans — but leaves out a very, sorely underrepresented group. You bracing yourself? Because you probably already guessed which group of ladies Berlatsky thinks is getting the short end of the representation stick. It’s men. He’d like to see more men on OITNB, the show about a women’s prison, based on one women’s real-life experience during her stay in a women’s penitentiary surrounded by women.

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Top Secret Movie

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Orange is the New Black Season 2

Hopefully you’re ready to go back to prison. Orange is the New Black has returned in all of its shower shoe glory (and in its entirety, of course). Since all 13 episodes of season 2 are on Netflix, let’s spend the entire day with Piper, Taystee, Nicky, Red, Alex, Crazy Eyes, Lorna and all the other guests of the Litchfield penal system. When we last left that gigantic cast Red’s lost her power, the Supervisor Sam was a complete jackass and Piper was punching an angel. I’ll be binge-watching and writing down some reactions as we go along, so let’s slide the bars into place and get not-going. Standing still is hard.

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LADY VALOR: THE KRISTIN BECK STORY

Kristin Beck, the first woman Navy SEAL, is the greatest action hero you’ll see at the movies this summer. That is if you’re able to get to one of the screenings of Lady Valor. At the moment, I count two showings of the film in New York City next month (June 14th and 16th) as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and then at least one showing in San Francisco on June 27th as part of the Frameline Film Festival. Technically it’ll still be summer when it premieres on CNN on September 4th, but that’s just shy of the season, movie-wise. I am still hoping that CNN Films gives the documentary a proper theatrical release before its cable debut, but I also got the idea today that the news network should bump up its airing to catch the wave of positive attention to the transgender community after today’s reveal of the new Time magazine cover featuring Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox. That would be stupid, though, because there’s no reason that this should only be a wave. Lady Valor needs to arrive when it arrives as normal in order to continue the whole current. We’ve seen films about transgender characters, both real and fictional, for decades, and while Time calls now a tipping point for the transgender movement, the main reason why they’re focusing on it at this moment seems both to do with the upcoming release of the second season of Orange is the New Black and to finally make up […]

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Warner Bros.

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Her Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) spends his days writing personal letters for customers to give to their lovers, families and friends, but in his own life there’s no one truly special. Still heartbroken and lonely after a recent break-up he pines for a romance he no longer thinks is possible. That negativity changes when he gets a new OS named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) that personalizes itself to the user. She’s witty, sweet and constantly learning about the world around her, and it’s not long before the two are in love. Spike Jonze’s latest is gorgeous, glorious cinema from top to bottom. It’s beautifully shot and scored, marvelously acted and interested in substantive ideas that most Hollywood films willfully ignore in favor of empty flash. This could easily have gone the Electric Dreams route, but it avoids anything resembling cheesiness through its sincerity, production design and honest lead performances. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Short film, featurettes]

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Orange Is The New Black Season 2

Ahhh, prison. Orange is the New Black makes it seem so appealing. You and a bunch of your buddies (divvied up exclusively by race, of course) hanging out, rewiring lamps and only occasionally fighting off a potential stabbing. The second season of Netflix’s simultaneously-upbeat-and-disturbing series debuts on June 6th. And to ring in the new, they’ve released a shiny new trailer, a full-length one that finally gives us all a clue to what we’ll be binge-watching a month and a half from now (beforehand, all we had were these particularly ominous seventeen seconds). This full-on, “Official” trailer actually has a little story to it. Looks like Season 2 will start with Piper (Taylor Schilling) released from solitary (probably something to do with that potential stabbing) and Lorraine Toussaint showing up as a new (and from the looks of it, extremely villainous) resident of Litchfield Correctional. Cue the montage of characters becoming alternately enraged and sassy.

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2013review_tvshows

According to the kind of people who are prone to make such pronouncements, the Golden Age of Television ended this year with the series finale of Breaking Bad. But with more quality television on the air today than is humanly possible to watch, I don’t see how that could possibly be true.  The one big observation about the TV landscape this year that I’d like to make is that there finally seems to be a preponderance of shows about women, a much-needed correction to the masculinity-obsessed, anti-hero shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. I love and admire all of those shows, but I’m glad to see that the new opportunities for original programming that the proliferation of cable and now Netflix and Amazon offers has resulted in more stories about women. Without further ado, my picks for the 13 best shows of 2013:

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Orange is the New Black

It wasn’t too long ago — just last year, in fact — that journalists and pundits started drafting Netflix’s eulogy. A Google search for the words “Netflix is doomed” reveals that many smart people thought the company would soon go the way of Blockbuster, becoming a fearsome industry giant only to have the rug pulled from under it. And then House of Cards happened, and Orange is the New Black after that. (If there are any other Netflix originals worth recommending, please discuss them in the comments.) A Netflix subscription became necessary to (legally) watch those buzz-worthy shows. With just a couple of hits — really, two seasons of TV — the former mailed-DVDs service became a network. But what’s noteworthy about Netflix’s continued success is the rapid emulation of the company’s business model by its competitors. Specifically, its practice of ponying up for a full season of TV without seeing a pilot — a situation Orange creator Jenji Kohan exploited to create one of the most diverse shows in the history of television to wide acclaim — has become such a game-changer that even broadcast networks are following suit. What can only follow is better TV, with writers enjoying an even greater sense of control and ownership over their works, though those writers will likely be small-screen veterans with a proven track record instead of up-and-comers who might be considered risky investments.

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Ray Donovan

Yesterday, Alyssa Rosenberg of Think Progress boldly predicted the imminent end of the anti-hero hour and the rise of a new prestige genre: the “Trojan Horse” show. Using Showtime’s Ray Donovan and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black as this new genre’s pioneers, Rosenberg hypothesizes a brave new TV world where viewers might be lured by a conventional white protagonist, then bait-and-switched into watching a much more emotionally complex or racially and sexually diverse show than the one they’d been sold. Ray Donovan, for instance, began as a slick procedural about a professional problem-solver for the rich and famous, but has evolved into an altogether different creature, a psychological drama that explores, among other themes, the long-lasting effects of clerical abuse — a hard sell to any audience demographic. Likewise, Orange is the New Black follows the WASPy Piper Chapman into prison, but the show quickly loses interest in her. Orange creator Jenji Kohan told NPR, “In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan horse. You’re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women, and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories.” After just the first season, Orange‘s empty wooden shell has become so disposable to her own show that it’s easy to imagine how the series might continue after her release from prison.

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Orange is the New Black

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Fruitvale Movie

During the summer of 1998, one of the two multiplexes in my modestly sized hometown devoted one of its sixteen screens to limited release films throughout the entire season. They showed a range of small, non-mainstream narrative works from that surprisingly indie-rich summer, including Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66, Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box, James Toback’s Two Girls and a Guy, Don Roos’s The Opposite of Sex, Whit Stilman’s The Last Days of Disco, Neil LaBute’s Your Friends and Neighbors, and Mr. Jealousy, a film that almost nobody remembers Noah Baumbach made. Despite their nearby availability, I saw approximately zero of these films. I was thirteen years old, and my parents maintained their strict no-R policy. But it was enough for me that the names of these films showed up in the local paper, and that I saw their posters displayed through smudged plexiglass outside the box office as I bought my ticket to see Jane Austen’s Mafia! for the third time (I’m not kidding). I told myself I was perfectly content with the likes of Godzilla, Small Soldiers, and that other Avengers, but I patiently looked forward to the day when I was brave enough to sneak into (and, a few years later, pay to see) these movies so that I could figure out what this trailer was all about. I wasn’t yet experiencing blockbuster fatigue, just bottled excitement that there were new and weird and envelope-pushing movies that existed out there. But apparently, my multiplex’s experiment was a […]

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Orange is the New Black

An open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid), and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers.

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