“Orange is the New Black” is back (in black) and, forgoing the AC/DC reference, the first episode of the much-buzzed about season two is pretty dark. Piper’s inward facing monologue, post-pee, to the incredulous and lovable Lolly did not fall flat on an audience that has been inundated with violence (“Game of Thrones?!”) in the absence of the happy-go-lucky Kohan creation.
It was a real and touching moment from a show that made out well with its light approach to prison and the conflicting relationships women make with each other there in the first season. Despite the glossy treatment in season one and the remainder of season two, the conflict amongst the female prisoners was the obvious plot driver for a show that could have grown stagnant in its limited setting arrangement.
And since the show takes place in an all-female corrections facility, it only makes sense that the conflicts that arise seem particularly cultured toward girl-hate, that venomous and insidious beast that is often touted amongst non-girl girl-haters i.e. misogynists, as a symptom of women’s overemotional wiring. Pennsatucky is crazy, yes, but doesn’t her particular strain of crazy ring some nostalgic notes to the tune of territorial teen tyrant? A quick run through of season one will remind you of the women-hating women of the prison. Think Dayanara Diaz’s ostracization by her female family, any of Big Boo’s conflicts or even Red’s dismissal of Piper in the beginning.
My boyfriend once told me—don’t worry I corrected him—that women would never succeed in taking over the world because we could never cooperate long enough to. My girl-power reflex ticked but upon careful consideration of his words and my own relationships with other women, I understand his point. The mean-girl era of every woman’s life is almost a collective experience because of its breadth across social and geographical stratum. And I’ve had more than my fair share of gossiping, hating and trashing.
Perhaps my parallel between the actual, tangible violence imbued on OITNB’s Regina George and the new girl in town/block C is a stretch. Or perhaps it’s easy to write the parallel off since prisons are already a place of violence. But let’s not forget that even Regina George got run over by a bus.
Following the assault of a 12-year-old Wisconsin girl by two of her purported friends, “New York” magazine published an article on girls who kill. In it, they cite two papers by Kathleen M. Heide, a criminologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Heide found that between 1996 and 2005, the number of arrests for assault by girls increased 24 percent. What’s more is that female killers were found more likely to kill other females than males.
“Orange is the New Black” is a fun and fluffy show that finds plots of respite in girl love as much as anything else. But as one of the few (if not only) shows featuring a super ratio of women to men, the relationships amongst those women merit observation. Without giving anything away, I’ll tell you that the desolate mood of the first episode doesn’t persist, but while it has its moment, let’s go there, the there and the violence that Piper Chapman didn’t even know existed.