Orange is the New Black

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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published: 04.19.2014
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published: 04.19.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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