Starring Taylor Schilling, Michael J. Harney, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning. Various Directors. (2014, 774 min). Lionsgate
Review by Michelle MaBelle
Orange is the New Black is good. Really, really good, but you already knew that.
You've probably also already heard everyone losing their minds over Season One, screaming about how it deserved to win all the Emmys and such. Maybe you even got tired of hearing that. Maybe you rolled your eyes and told people to shut up because it was just a show, so who cares? That's the exact boat I was in before I actually sat down and watched the first season and spent the entire day in front of my TV, losing my mind and screaming about how, yeah, it deserved to win everything.
Season Two is just as good. Maybe even better, actually.
Season One focused on Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as she fumbled around in Litchfield trying to cope with prison life. Season Two shows Piper as being a bit more aggressive and a lot more selfish. This season, however, takes Piper out of the spotlight more often and lets the supporting cast shine more brightly. This is a blessing, really, because my biggest complaint about Season One was Piper's constant back and forth with Alex and Larry, which was interesting for about three minutes, then became repetitive and dull.
Orange is the New Black is one of those shows where the main characters are fine, but it's those in the background that really make it something special. Blending Piper in with everyone else, making her just one part of the community instead of it's center, really pushes Season Two to new heights. Learning who the other girls were before prison is quite often heart-wrenching. The stories of Taystee, Mendoza and Poussey stand out in particular and really hammer home the idea that not everyone who does a bad thing is a necessarily bad person at their core.
Actually, that's the overall theme that Season Two takes and runs with. Good people do bad things and bad people have some good in them. The world isn't black and white, and everyone in Litchfield is grey. It's a ideal that could have come dangerously close to becoming overused and cheesy, but it works here. Every. Single. Time. I was on the edge of my seat every episode, face practically against the screen as I wondered who would be in the spotlight next. I wanted to know who these girls were before, and at the end of the episode I was never disappointed, although I was often a blubbering mess.
I don't want to spoil things, but I will say this: My only complaint about this season is they spend a ridiculous amount of time on Larry. Nobody cares about Larry. He was uninteresting in Season One, and now he's uninteresting and unnecessary. He and Piper aren't together anymore, so we don't need to spend as much time with him.
Despite that, Season Two is still a wonderful addition to Season One. Its final episode is satisfying, but still leaves enough plot threads unfinished to make Season Three very, very interesting.
- FEATURETTES: "A Walk Around the Block"; "Orange Peeled"; "Back Before the Potato Sack"; "The Vee.I.P. Treatment"
- Audio Commentaries