Orange is the New Black 2 Review
Before you begin read the original review here.
She also was awarded our ‘Best Dramatic performance‘ last year.
Laverne Cox is a transgender actress who plays transgender character Sophia Burset – this is important and employing transgender actors, presenters and performers in front of camera is one of the things I personally continue to press for in the UK. Laverne and Candis Cayne (another mainstream transgender woman search this site for her) before her, have proven it is folley not to employ transgender people for transgender roles. Yet the UK is hell bent on not doing so.
So I will continually press and demonstrate this is not working until it does change.
***This contains spoilers***
OK I will do a brief review of each episode. If you want a full review of this series then there are many on Google. I am purely interested on Laverne Cox and how she is doing and report so within ‘fair use’ for criticism and review. However this does not take anything away from this series and it is worth watching of course. As Laverne aside fans will be pleased.
To begin with I did panic in episode one that Laverne Cox was no more.
She was absent from a recent ‘Alan Carr – Chatty Man’ when the actors came over to promote the new series (or maybe she had read up on his use of transphobic slurs before hand? Search this site for his name) and the ‘Time magazine cover‘ could have been a swan song. Fortunately by episode 2 she reappears.
OK then so let’s get started…
My first impression was the show had won some awards and got some more cash it had changed locations to an actual prison or purpose built one. Without ruining it this is not the case and we return to the old location with the usual gang by episode 2. Thank goodness as that would have ruined it!
We are back at the usual locale.
Sophia – “How do I look?”
“I don’t wanna be here when those beads pop off and fly and hit me in the face!”
“What kinda job were you thinking of getting in that?!”
Sophia – “I am just playing dress-up that’s all.”
They have a ‘dress to impress’ seminar where they have to dress up for a job interview. They make a bit of a pig’s breakfast of it of course, and Laverne is over-dressed as are some of the others who have NO IDEA what they should wear.
This adds to the comedy of it, and it is kept relatively light. There is a flash back to other inmates. But I am only concerned with Laverne Cox so we can move on.
Quotes of the episode?
Commenting on Sex – “Two in the pink one in the stink, its not rocket science!”
“She used to run this place,””I don’t care used to… I am living in the present, namaste ‘n’ sh*t!”
(19m) Red tells Sophia Burset that she wants to be ‘fierce’. And Sophia Burset is giving Red a make-over.
26mins in Laverne remarks on the skin condition of the inmate lead for a moment.
This episode opens with an argument about where a woman’s urethra is situated and a number of the less educated cellmates argue its inside the vagina.
Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox) enters the bathroom. (10mins in).
Sophia Burset – “For the love of god, girls the hole is not inside the hole, you have the vagina proper, you have your clitoris, the urethra is loacted between the clit and the vagina inside the labia minora.”
Inmate – “For real?”
Sophia Burset – “For real! I designed one myself! I had plans drawn up and everything! I’ve seen some funky punani in my day! I ain’t gonna leave that up to chance! (Hands the girl a hand mirror) here have a look honey.”
Quotes of the episode?
“Hey not everyone wants a ‘diesel dyke’ – enough with the ‘clit’erference!
At the end of the programme (there are other stories of course LOL).
We see Sophia Burset giving a sex ed class with a diagram of a vulva. (55.02)
Quotes of the episode?
Brother visits inmate they play 20 questions – “Grandmother’s dying!””Yes!””High Five!” – OMG Grandmother’s dying!”
They start a prison newsletter. No Quotes of the episode?
Sophia – (10mins) is in her ‘salon’, “You sure you just want the ‘usual’ you ain’t in the kitchen now you got room for a statmment!… A nice Mowhawk would give you a don’t f*ck with me vibe!”
She is called to the greenhouse by Red. And hands contraband make-up and moisturiser from the bottom of the plant pots.
Sophia – (12mins) “It’s a mystery to me how you ever lost the cold war. (Red is Russian obviously)”
(Red hands her more products).
Sophia – (In Thanks) – “You ever been kissed by a 6ft black transgender woman?!”
Red – “No I am fine – thanks!” “But I have a commissar that could use some!” “I am running a little short in the cash department!”
(Leaves with the goods).
Sophia – “I’ll be back! (For more beauty products for her salon).”
31mins in – The salon.
Sophia – “I ought to give you a skullett!”
“What’s a skullett?!”
Sophia – ” A mullet with the top shaved off!”
Conversation about family…
Sophia – “I applied too. (for leave from the correctional facility)”
Piper (Blonde Lead) – “What for?”
Sophia – “My father had a lung transplant that didn’t take, we hadn’t spoken since I transitioned, he was a real hard ass! But in the end he started asking for me. Even used my new name.””Sophia! people get soft! You know when they die!
If I could’ve seen him, I don’t know, May have felt like closure? But we don’t get a lot of that in this life so we? Smiles – add it to my list of regrets! And grandmothers, they’re important too!
(29mins) Sophia has her son and ex-wife visit.
They comment on how talk he is getting and that his feet are as tall as he is standing up.
Sophia to son – (SMILING AWKWARDLY) – is there anything you want to say to me?
(Son looks down sheepishly).
Sophia – plays cards with her son. The son beats her. “You are kicking my ass here!”
Son – “Yep you want to deal?!”
(She smiles lovingly at him with her ex-wife).
At first glance this seems like a lot of screen time but we are talking one or two minutes!
Unlike the first series the problem this show has is that difficult second album.
Historically many female prison dramas revolve around a few characters, but with this ballooning cast it just felt confused and many of our favourite characters were basically starved out. Laverne being an obvious casualty here.
Some may say her ‘currency‘ is already used up. After all, beyond the trans cliche’s what use is she for them?
But this demonstrates that they cannot see her as a regular actress with a trans history and someone who can handle every other issue in that prison as well as be trans.
Why must she have to explain a vulva to the inmates?
This stinks a little of desperation and being at a loss as to what to do with her.
The ensemble has grown to uncomfortable levels and as such you kinda get lost in the mess and the pace is a tad rushed to fit in the extra storylines.
OITNB had brought in a raft of new characters to add to the cast. These have their own backstories (in flash-back as usual).
This eats into an already somewhat saturated cast that is peppered with a few women also being ‘eaten’ (hut hum! …down below) clutching the shower pipes groaning (we have seen that already what else you got?).
It is kinda now at the point where you might struggle if you do not watch series one before you watch series two. That’s a shame also.
If we compare this to something self-contained like ‘Porridge’ or ‘Within these Walls’ (oldies will remember Googie Withers (yes that was her name no jokes pls) or ‘Prisoner Cell-block H’ (with the wobbly Australian sets, and cardboard tube bars) or ‘Bad Girls’. These were Shows that you could dip in and out every week and manage.
OITNB is at risk of becoming an ‘epic’ and overcomplicated.
The character’s dilution does also take something away from their form.
Sophia Burset for example in series one had an episode practically to herself, and she did a really great job – awards and plaudits followed – inc a front page of Time Magazine.
In this series she probably was lucky to get 10 minutes on camera? In 13 episodes!
In Series 2 she ends up explaining what a vulva looks like and giving a 30 second make-over.
Rather than a multifaceted individual she has become more one dimensional. And it just feels like she is done!
She does not really get enough acting opportunities.
I think part of the popularity (apart from the occasional ‘lesbian action’ or punch-up) is as much as people may not like it is the fact Laverne Cox is in the show and she is probably stolen some lime-light away as a result – none of the others are on ‘TIME MAGAZINE! I think it may have come as a bit of a surprise that she would have been so popular as a result of this and they should bump her up a bit and give her more lines in other episodes – she is a lead character. She has a huge charismatic presence and holds the camera and our attention, I maybe biased but I seem to be just waiting for her to come back in shot all the time, and she deserves her place on the show that’s for sure! But unless series three next year (or a movie deal happens in-between times) gives her a break I think this may well be the end of the road.
Disappointing and at times chaotic! Were it not for Laverne Cox it would have dropped to below average and 2 stars. But credit where credit is due they need to be supported for hiring her just beef up her script next time eh? She was on TIME MAGAZINE FFS!
3/5 TZ Stars – Average.