Monday, April 7, 2014

#iRecommend Orange is the New Black

"I can't do shit with 'I'm sorry'."

"I was somebody with a life that I chose for myself. And now, now it's just about getting through the day without crying."

"Love is not an excuse."

"Taking steps is easy. Standing still is hard."

"I used to have grand plans. Now I can't even get past the swirling darkness in my brain long enough to land on anything."

"...sometimes you just need to look away."

"Why do you always feel so inevitable to me?"

"There's someone waiting for me. That's plan enough."

"The truth catches up with you in here, and it's the truth that's gonna make you her bitch."

"Feelings aren't enough. I need it to be real."

Too much quotes? Well, since I am trying to recommend a show here, I've got to show all my cards. Haha kidding. I'll let the suspense take its own course.

**There may be possible unintended spoilers. Be warned.

I just finished watching Orange is the New Black  a while ago, all 13 episodes - within a day and a half. I heard good reviews about it - that it was deep, sentimental, but still hilarious. The show did not disappoint. Seeing as how netflix isn't available in the Philippines and our wifi right now is probably on its deathbed, it isn't so surprising that I didn't discover this show firsthand, but compared to other shows wherein time-watched with respect to the airdate has an inversely proportional relationship with quality, watching OITNB a few months later didn't make it any less awesome.

This isn't a review. No - not by a long shot. Because I don't trust myself to make a well-enough-written review of this show. It's just out of my league. All I want to achieve by the end of this article is to show you a glimpse of the awesome-ness that is OITNB.

I'm not saying that you, dear reader (whoever you may be), will automatically like this show. Given the fact that it's unconventional - with contents of *****spoiler alert****** lesbianism, drugs, questionable (or believable - depends on you) religious beliefs, etc. *****spoiler end***** this show is obviously not for everyone.

But for those who like to keep an open mind - it's probably perfect for you.

This show reminded me of Skins a lot. It was/is/possibly-forever-will-be one of my favorite series. (Not saying that OITNB is at par with Skins. Obviously that'd be impossible since OITNB is still on its first season.) There's a lot of differences too of course. OITNB tells the tale of prisoners, their lives before and the eventual effects of their decisions to their lives outside - all the while living in a prison with considerably better facilities than others. It showed that just because the prisoners aren't necessarily wanting of anything that can deprive them of survival - except maybe for love, acceptance, human companionship (but that's arguable so...) - there are still things that can make your life hell. Which is why it's so different from Skins, where the kids are living in poverty and with more-or-less misguided lifestyles - an exact opposite to the scheduled lives of OITNB inmates - but still make the best out of their, pardon the language, fucked-up circumstances.

The similarity though was in the empathy. In both shows it showed how different facades can be from reality, and how reality is different for everyone. Remember how first generation character Sid lost his father and how it was so dramatic during his episode, but when Jal was recounting the group's mishappenings the past episodes, Sid only added, "and my dad's dead,"? Maxxie commented, "Bummer," and Tony said, "Sorry 'bout that." I'm not accusing the characters of being bad friends - not at all. In fact I find it amazing how these characters can recognize that these shitty things... They're more than shitty, but almost every - or at least everyone in their lives - experience them too, so even though they don't make light of their situations, they don't dwell on them either - at least not when they're with anyone else. When the transition from one character's to another character's perspective happens, you understand that the heavy drama that happened in another person's life is trivialized - though possibly not intentional - because they have their own shit going on. And that's life. It's life at its rawest state. It cuts through all the judging bullshit. Everyone - or at least everyone in this universe - has their own tales to tell, and sometimes it's alright not to tell, but it doesn't mean they're not there. (Oh shit. Too much fangirling? Moving on...)

OITNB hasn't been on air (or on-net....?) long enough to prove this point as elaborately yet, but somehow I can feel like it's heading there already. All these inmates, they have their pasts, most of which are ugly, but the people themselves aren't ugly. They were just put in the wrong circumstances at the wrong time. Sure, in real life, there'd probably be sick psychopaths who just are, but what this show is telling us is that it ain't fo' sure. They didn't have to talk about their pasts, and sometimes they did, but these people were all there, and they understood that. Sometimes, "just that" is enough. They appreciated each other for the selves that they were inside those prison walls.

*Spoiler alert..?*

That's the pretty part though. Because OITNB also shows us the possibility that sometimes, the "just you" is the real you. I mean, how horrible would it be to realize that your true self is someone who's inside prison walls? Honestly though, I personally find that the opposite is true for most of the inmates - which is why showing their pasts was so essential to developing the storyline. For some, like Tastee and Poussey, the past didn't matter. For others, like Sophia and Claudette, it did. And for the minority, like Piper Chapman and Tiffany Doggette, they are their pasts.

That isn't the whole show. It isn't just that. OITNB will show you how in possibly the most decent prison house ever, corruption is still possible - because power greed has no limits, no matter how small the power-to-be-acquired is.

*Spoiler end*

I ended up with more words written than I first intended, but that doesn't change the fact that they aren't enough to showcase the beauty of the show. OITNB doesn't do fireworks, it does silent hidden-in-between-the-lines beauty that creeps up on you after you watch a number of episodes. And if you're up for that, I suggest you begin streaming now, 'cuz you're gonna regret it if you don't.

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