Re: Guest Post - Ex-con reviews Orange Is The New Black

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Remember when the Internet was going to replace television because we would all be too blissfully interacting to bother with the Man's commercial lies?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:06 AM
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What's the consensus on OitNB vs Oz?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:36 AM
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Also, technically OitNB is the internet, not television.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:37 AM
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See now, when this show started, I was all "oh, I am skeptical of this because it seems like it is making prison - which is a nightmare - the site for wacky hijinks, as if prison were as acceptable a part of the American experience as college or working at WKRP or something" and everyone - elsewhere, not here - was all "but this is a wonderful and realistic show that centers women of color, stop complaining".

I think it's kind of gross, actually, and I am not surprised in the least that it appears to make prison look way less horrible and abusive than it actually is. I was pretty grossed out by the whole premise of the show, because it's like "hooray, we've managed to make a commercially palatable, nominally progressive way to exploit the prison pipeline!"


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:45 AM
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You could make similar objections to Hogan's Heroes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:47 AM
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Commercially palatable, you say?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:48 AM
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With the understanding that incarceration per se is horrible and the American justice system is completely fucked up and pointless, by and large, are low security federal pens really that bad? The dude I talked to who was at one recently didn't think so. I mean, it sucked, obviously; he was in prison. But it wasn't violent or scary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:01 AM
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5: Well, the thing about OitNB is that it's specifically being talked up by people on the left (at least in my social circle) who are normally critical of the prison pipeline, and it is specifically praised for its representation of prison, women prisoners, queer women, women of color. And unlike, say, Hogan's Heroes, it's about something that is going on in the present. I wouldn't feel better about wacky hijinks set in a debtor's prison in 1820, of course, but that kind of show would seem a little less callous.

On the one hand, it's absolutely true that prison is "normal" for a lot of poor communities. In that sense, it's important to be able to talk about prison, not shame people for criminal history, etc. But "normalizing" it as a subject of entertainment for middle class liberals really squicks me.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:06 AM
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it appears to make prison look way less horrible and abusive

Given that it's based on the memoir of a woman who did in fact spend a year in women's prison for drug trafficking and money laundering, I'm not sure this is that trenchant. Like Tweety, my friends who did time in low-security federal prison certainly didn't enjoy it, but found it not nearly as horrible as they were afraid it would be going in.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:08 AM
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I basically think it should be mandatory viewing for foster parents, since so many of them are clueless about anything that requires empathy. The stuff about childhoods and the inmates as mothers just kill me, which I think is not just because of my own history.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:11 AM
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The memoir was about a federal low/minimum-security women's prison, and it seems possible to me that some of the things Susan K. in the linked pieces finds ridiculous are in fact just differences. She was in a Maryland state prison that from how she describes it was maybe medium-security.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:16 AM
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I think it's kind of gross, actually, and I am not surprised in the least that it appears to make prison look way less horrible and abusive than it actually is.

I am feeling a bit guilty about enjoying "Porridge" reruns now.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:21 AM
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I was pretty grossed out by the whole premise of the show, because it's like "hooray, we've managed to make a commercially palatable, nominally progressive way to exploit the prison pipeline!"

Not having seen the show, none of the criticisms in the article made me think worse of it. They could mean that the show used the prison as a back-drop for wacky hijinks, or not -- they all seemed like the sort of thing that could be concessions to making television that didn't undermine the weight of the show.

. . . specifically praised for its representation of prison, women prisoners, queer women, women of color

One of the things that made feel positively about the show was a reported comment by the creator that she intentionally set up the first season such that the (white) audience-surrogate character had a short sentence with the plan of having her leave the show and making the characters of color the central characters. But, again, I still haven't watched any of it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:22 AM
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On the one hand, it's absolutely true that prison is "normal" for a lot of poor communities. In that sense, it's important to be able to talk about prison, not shame people for criminal history, etc. But "normalizing" it as a subject of entertainment for middle class liberals really squicks me.

Hard to reach the average person and make them empathize with people they never encounter in their daily lives, if "entertainment" is off the table.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:40 AM
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I think "wacky hijinks" is a bit off as a description of the show. Which isn't to say that there aren't wacky hijinks (there certainly are), but there's also a lot of heart. We're not talking about Family Guy set in prison.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:49 AM
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Hard to reach the average person and make them empathize with people they never encounter in their daily lives, if "entertainment" is off the table.

I just get the creeped-out feeling from the show that the take-away for a lot of the non-imprisoned classes is "hey, prison is just one of those things that happens to poor folks, it's kind of a shame, like having to work at a convenience store". Like, de-stigmatizing while also de-politicizing.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:50 AM
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I got halfway into the first season, but found it increasingly unwatchable because of the wacky hijinks. On the de-stigmatizing point, I would imagine that the effects of humanizing prisoners will exceed by a great measure the effects of normalizing prison. That is, I think "they're animals' is a much bigger part of the national psyche than 'they are in cages.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:56 AM
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Frowner, have you seen it? The show makes it seem like prison is very unpleasant -- dangerous because of violence between prisoners, sexual harassment from the guards, and poor sanitation and unsafe working conditions. It also deals with psychological stresses beyond physical danger: loneliness, isolation and alienation from your family, being subject to capricious authority, and living in a manipulative, competitive social environment where people are commodified in the struggle for resources or status, while literally never being able to leave that environment or get any distance from the people around you. It does that all while humanizing people in prison. I'm sure there are a lot of fair criticisms to be leveled at it, but I think helping its viewers not see the prison population as subhuman strangers is easily worth the trade for whatever it's fucking up.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:57 AM
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I know about prison because I read Achewood. But I could only stand about fifteen minutes of the first episode of OitNB.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:21 AM
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I watched a couple of episodes and was rather put off, so perhaps it's gotten better and I would not know.

I admit that I am also creeped out by the giddy fangirling in my social circle, which may be coloring my viewpoint - I hear quite a lot from folks who receive the show as just another "golden age of television" piece of quality entertainment with hot actresses, etc, and I feel like their take away is mostly that prison is another stage-setting like a radio station or the late sixties - vaguely educational and worthy, of course, but fundamentally just something that cultured TV-watchers consume. This is why I worry about destigmatizing just turning into acceptance by well off white people that of course we have this huge prison industrial complex and it's a shame, of course, and prisoners are just fellow human beings, of course, but it's just one of the hazards of being poor, so take care not to be poor.

An improvement on current circumstances, I guess, but it does not fill me with glee.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:48 AM
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(I mean "hot actresses that it is socially acceptable for left-leaning people to admire or fetishize", which is part of the key - people who would normally be very skeptical of this kind of fandom finding it perfectly all right because it pushes certain leftie buttons.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:50 AM
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ISTM that, as the season went on, the wacky hijinks thinned out, to the point where my first reaction to Frowner was that it's not about wacky hijinks at all.

Probably useful to compare it to The Sopranos, which was largely comic its first season or two, but got so grim that I never did bother finishing it (or coming all that close).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:51 AM
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It would be more like Hogan's Heroes if the lady who played the warden was actually Angela Davis' daughter.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:52 AM
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Basically, I sign on wholly with 18. Among other things, showing nearly all the prison staff as being on a spectrum from heartless to abusive is quite valuable: there's basically no part of the show where the people who represent societal justice are wearing white hats (the one guy seems like he will be, but I think the whole point is that he actually isn't, and that the seeming was manipulative bullshit: no authority is trustworthy).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:55 AM
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Anyhow, OITNB puts on a good liberal arts college grad face of being socially relevant and is admirable in a bunch of ways but it really is pretty much wacky hijinks, done in fatally by Jenji Kohan's love of the wacky hijink.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:56 AM
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Also the prison back stories are as ridiculous as the death flashbacks at the beginning of Six Feet Under. How about just some normal actual criminals (or a guy who dies of cancer in his late 70s).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:02 AM
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+flash


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:02 AM
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At the same time, though, I think back on some of the dreadful movies I watched as a kid that had a huge political effect on me (And Justice For All, in particular) and the way that traces of the radical left get preserved in mainstream culture (Running On Empty was a big deal for a friend of mine) and I suppose you could make similar-albeit-not-as-much-about-prisons criticisms of them. I am pretty sure that OitNB is better than And Justice For All.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:04 AM
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I admit that I am also creeped out by the giddy fangirling in my social circle, which may be coloring my viewpoint - I hear quite a lot from folks who receive the show as just another "golden age of television" piece of quality entertainment with hot actresses, etc, and I feel like their take away is mostly that prison is another stage-setting like a radio station or the late sixties - vaguely educational and worthy, of course, but fundamentally just something that cultured TV-watchers consume. This is why I worry about destigmatizing just turning into acceptance by well off white people that of course we have this huge prison industrial complex and it's a shame, of course, and prisoners are just fellow human beings, of course, but it's just one of the hazards of being poor, so take care not to be poor.

Admittedly I haven't seen the show and so I'm basically talking out of my arse, but I really don't see why this show in particular should have that risk (assuming it is a risk) as opposed to all the gazillion other shows and films set in prison (eg Cell Block H, Porridge, Oz, Prison Break, Shawshank Redemption, Birdman of Alcatraz, Cool Hand Luke) or for that matter set in other situations-we-should-not-tolerate-as-society (I don't know - The Wire, The Sopranos, Maximum Bob). What is it about this show that makes it more potentially pernicious?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:07 AM
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It could be worse: could be Chicago, where all the main characters are in prison for committing domestic abuse - in fact, are in prison for murdering their partners - and have a chirpy little song with the chorus "They Had It Coming".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:10 AM
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What is it about this show that makes it more potentially pernicious?

I think I've almost said all I've got on this - but OitNB seems different, to me, because it has a legitimacy among people on the left that those other things lack - people who normally are pretty skeptical of commercial television and who would normally be discussing the regimes of power within a show about prison but who (again, at least in my social circles) are not. I wouldn't think twice about it if this were, like, Mad Men or some kind of Rich People Do Ridiculous Things reality program, or Buffy or whatever - it's the fact that this particular show about prison seems to get a pass on a lot of stuff from people who would not normally give this kind of thing a pass.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:19 AM
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I wouldn't think twice about it if this were, like, Mad Men or some kind of Rich People Do Ridiculous Things reality program, or Buffy or whatever - it's the fact that this particular show about prison seems to get a pass on a lot of stuff from people who would not normally give this kind of thing a pass.

Again, I guess I really should watch it before asking, but in what way is it not like Mad Men (for the purposes of this discussion)?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:23 AM
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I mean, ajay's Porridge reference above isn't entirely flippant. It was the most popular sitcom on British TV at the time and is still shown regularly today. It definitely "gets a pass".


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:28 AM
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I don't actually think the main problem with OITNB, which is definitely an OK and pretty good show but not more, is political-- it's with its somewhat lame wacky aesthetic. With that said if I was going to do a political critique of the show, I would say it's main fault is making everything about the travails of whiny self-aware UMC white people, while pulling off the whiny self-aware UMC white person's ultimate trick of putting in enough arguable social relevance to pretend it's not all about whiny UMC white people using everyone else as a prop.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:29 AM
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33. But nobody watches Porridge an imagines that it throws any light on the reality of prisons. It's a Ronnie Barker sitcom; the setting might as well be a blue wall that nobody's done the CGI for yet.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:35 AM
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it's main fault is making everything about the travails of whiny self-aware UMC white people, while pulling off the whiny self-aware UMC white person's ultimate trick of putting in enough arguable social relevance to pretend it's not all about whiny UMC white people using everyone else as a prop.

The saving grace here is that they've made her sufficiently annoying that you don't find her super likable. She's genuinely really fucking annoying, which itself casts the show's life onto the other characters. It's basically the same set-up as Mary-Louise Parker in Weeds, but she's way more likable. If MLP were the main character in OITNB, the travails of the whiny self-aware UMC person would carry more traction.

That said, I've seen only half a season, but not out of any taste-related reason.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 9:44 AM
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Frowner, is your point that right-thinking people should all hate television and you're frustrated that your friends who usually hate television like this show?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:03 AM
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I mean, in my circles there's nothing particularly different about how anyone treats OitNB relative to Mad Men or True Detective or Community or Top of the Lake. But I probably don't know anyone who would count as on the left from Frowner's point of view.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:07 AM
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I'm a white blonde girl who went out and willfully fucked up and committed armed robbery, and I got five years. There were tons of black girls in my prison who were holding onto a bag of dope for a couple of days, and they always seemed to get, like, 10 years.

Covered also in American History X, where Ed Norton's character, in for murder, finds out that his black friend with a higher (? at least comparable) sentence is in for stealing a television.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:11 AM
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36 is totally true, but may just be another tricky way in which the fiendish whiny UMC white person achieves plausible deniability of turning everything into a prop.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:14 AM
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Again, I guess I really should watch it before asking, but in what way is it not like Mad Men (for the purposes of this discussion)?

Because I don't expect people in my social circle to be taking action against the late sixties. It's the fact that this show is about prisons, about the American gulag, about something that in general people in my social circle want to abolish and tend to take political action against. I find it disturbing that people who are nominally really, really against the prison industrial complex find it super-easy to talk about this show like it's Buffy but with more prestige because it's a Very Special Topic. I find it weird when people who are at very, very low risk of going to prison get their entertainment from a show about prison.

What it boils down to is that I think our prison system is bad enough, monstrous enough, that it creeps me out when it's a subject for light entertainment and tumblr-blogging about how hot the characters are, particularly when that stuff is coming from people (in my social circle, YMMV) who are at approximately zero risk of going to prison themselves unless they join an Earth First cell or something.

There are bad and monstrous things everywhere you turn, true, but surely even, like, baby beauty pageants are less horrible than the prison system.

But, as I say, I would be a much different person had I not watched a midnight movie rebroadcast of And Justice For All on some Chicago-area station in the late eighties, so I recognize that my argument is a bit incomplete.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:20 AM
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If I thought that hard about all bad things in life, I'd never get out of bed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:25 AM
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42: Well, that's why I go by "Frowner" instead of, like, "Smiler" or "Gentle, Supportive Non-violent Communication User Who Focuses On Finding Common Ground In Order To Actually Achieve Things Instead Of Just Complaining-er", I guess.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:33 AM
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Group hug.


Posted by: Gentle, Supportive Non-violent Communication User Who Focuses On Finding Common Ground In Order To A | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:36 AM
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But I probably don't know anyone who would count as on the left from Frowner's point of view.

Well, I will leave it to Frowner as to his view of my political position, and since I no longer watch anything made in the English language because Imperial Evil corrupts and contaminates everything it envelops, I really have no opinion on American television anymore.
Other than that it is Evil.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:53 AM
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Packaging information about socially problematic phenomena in enough wacky hijinks to make it palatable as mainstreamish entertainment is a pretty old trick. The Wire was certainly not immune. I will boringly add that, as a political strategy, this has both its uses and limits.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:54 AM
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45: Beckett is still OK.


Posted by: Theodor Adorno | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 10:57 AM
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-tt, + r


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 11:04 AM
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And it is obviously and absolutely not reformable, although waiting for the barbarians is a useless eschatology.

Oh, I suppose there is something that could be said about the process of the vampirizing of the innocence involved in the privileged UMC obsession with the subaltern that would have clear parallels with Dickens sentimentality about pickpockets and orphans and the child prostitution and brutal exploitation it made invisible...but I really can't be bothered anymore.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 11:07 AM
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40 is getting into cultural criticism conspiracy theory territory. More or less the whole point is that Piper isn't a likable character. But, unlike all of the male antihero shows that came before, this show is pretty clear that the other characters matter as much, if not more. Mad Men doesn't outlive Draper, Sopranos doesn't outlive Tony, but OITNB is designed to outlive Piper. I'm not sure how you can argue that the PoC are props for the UMC white girl when she's leaving and they're staying.

I mean, obviously, she's the POV character at the outset, and that's mostly because racism/classism/practicalities of commercial TV. But that's a temporary condition; by late in the 1st season, there are episodes where she's the B story at most.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 11:44 AM
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34, 40 are way more amusing if you're FB friends with Halford.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 11:48 AM
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I'm pretty skeptical that Piper's going to leave the show. They'll find a way to keep her in prison longer.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 11:52 AM
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26 is kind of weird amalgam of 2 critiques that don't stand up. One is that TV should feature more boring people ("Why all these cop shows? Where are the shows about accountants? And why do people on sitcoms always crack jokes?"), and the other is, frankly, quasi-racist, that most people in prison are just "ordinary criminals" - that is, that "ordinary criminals" wouldn't have interesting backstories, because they're sort of golems.

I mean, yes, Claudette's story is extremely fictional, but Janae's story (the HS track star) is, I'm guessing, fairly representative (not of most convicts, but a decent chunk). I'd add that I'm pretty sure that a lower percentage of female convicts are "ordinary criminals" because a big part of the ordinary criminal track involves being a male. It's not some weird fluke that there are many, many more men in prison than women. Men are more violent, boys are more likely to have their transgressions treated as criminal matters, gang cultural is predominantly male, etc. "All the teenage girls on my block were dealing, so when I became a teenager, I started dealing, too" isn't an "ordinary" story in a women's prison.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:01 PM
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I see from Wikipedia that Mendoza (the Hispanic woman who takes over the kitchen) was an abused wife who got arrested for food stamp fraud. Where does Hollywood come up with these wacky stories?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:03 PM
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Yeah, I dunno, pace the Susan K. commentary, I don't think you can have some kind of semiotically neutral women-in-prison show on US television. A friend of mine had a joke that every women-in-prison movie had to have the line (delivered in a gravelly voice): "You're gonna learn to like it!" And from the recaps, it sure sounds like the titillation quotient is fairly high.

In terms of normalizing the PIC, I'm not sure that's even all that necessary, but OITNB certainly contributes to it either way.

The other thing to remember is that there is a wide diversity of experiences of prisoners in the US -- men vs. women, north vs. south, private vs. public prisons -- incarceration isn't just one experience that everyone shares. Some essential features, maybe, and probably the worst experiences are the way to bet, but it still varies widely. Even old vs new buildings, or the relative power of prison guards' unions, are pretty determining factors.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:04 PM
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Federal crimes are also likely to be more "interesting" than state crimes.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:04 PM
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I guess I'm one of those annoying liberals who likes it, which is not to say I find it either realistic or unproblematic. But even beyond the power of people who look like people I know more than on other shows I would presumably watch if I watched more tv, there are stories that I've wanted to see told that haven't been told before. But the story of Maria Ruiz, who has a baby while in prison and wants to be a good mother to the best of her ability so she can return when her child is in first grade and step in as mami even while knowing it's unlikely everything can work out like that, is brutal and beautifully done in a way that I haven't seen before. (Again, not that I watch much tv.)

The demographically black shows we watch are typically reality tv because Lee chooses and because there aren't great alternatives out there (and holy shit does Black-ish look awful!) but the black characters here seem better, have more shade and depth than they would elsewhere. Ditto queer stuff. No, it's not much, but when you're used to getting scraps you sometimes are happy about better scraps rather than just go hungry, or whatever. This is also why it's fine and makes sense that some people are bitter about it.

Mary Louise Parker is way hotter than Taylor Schilling or whatever her name is, but I only lasted through three or four seasons of Weeds. I see definite improvements here.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:14 PM
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I was going to write a version of 53, and then I didn't have to. Whose backstory is even supposed to be that wacky? The only thing that makes them seem quirky is that the story of a crime is embedded in the story of a person's life.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:17 PM
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And from the recaps, it sure sounds like the titillation quotient is fairly high.

I don't find it titillating in the least. Unless you're at a very juvenile level where any depiction of lesbian sex (or flash of boob) is titillating, very little is shown in a way that's (for want of a better term) male gazey. The women are usually (mostly) dressed*, and it's mostly quickies in the bathroom, chapel, or a bunk within view of the guard. It's shown as a fact of life, which I presume is accurate. The characters talk about it in blunt, prosaic terms.

*during sex, I mean; boobs are generally visible in the bathrooms/showers, but in what I'd consider a realistic, not titillating, way - it's usually someone passing in the background, not some slow pan past shower stalls of women soaping their boobs


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:19 PM
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The dude I talked to about federal prison was in for (semi-)accidentally helping a blind dude threaten a phone company employee by parking in his driveway. Sorta wacky!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:20 PM
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Mary Louise Parker is way hotter than Taylor Schilling or whatever her name is almost anyone you can think of.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:20 PM
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59.last: It's on Netflix right? You can pause it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:21 PM
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It's shown as a fact of life, which I presume is accurate.

Not done terribly accurately, according to the link.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:24 PM
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also, mileages vary, but I thought MLP on Weeds was the single most hateful protagonist I'd ever seen on television. She was lazy, shallow, selfish, but most detestably, criminally stupid. It made it totally implausible that show turned on the viewer believing that an intelligent, capable man would be so hot for her that he'd put his own life and freedom in jeopardy, and multiple plots involving multiple men turned on the viewer believing exactly this.

Piper isn't very interesting, but I find her more sympathetic.



Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:25 PM
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64: I've never seen the show, but I have no trouble at all believing that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:27 PM
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totally implausible that show turned on the viewer believing that an intelligent, capable man would be so hot for her that he'd put his own life and freedom in jeopardy, and multiple plots involving multiple men turned on the viewer believing exactly this.

Based on women-lovers in this very commentariat, I don't think it's that implausible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:28 PM
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I'm sure we all remember where we were when we first saw the Weeds ad where she was wearing only the apron.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:32 PM
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In my limited experience of the world, a woman over 40, no matter what she looks like, can't be vapid and stupid if she wants to command dangerously self-destructive levels of obsession. Younger, you might be feeding into some guy's obsession with youth and vitality and feeling like a protector. Acting like you're 15 -- a shitty, dumb 15 -- when you're the mother of two children and have to be something like 43 is not reliably magnetic. IMO.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:40 PM
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I think what you're saying is that Crazy loses its appeal once men get a little realistic about the world. Which is probably true. That said, she has a baby in one of the later seasons, so she's probably not 43 at the beginning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:43 PM
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68/69: Sure, but MLP isn't cute, she is smoking, smoking hot and I am guessing that more than a little crazy would be tolerated on her behalf. (Also part of her crazy was being astonishingly dishonest and manipulative.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 12:49 PM
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I think I'm saying something different: she's markedly stupid and empty, and it's much harder to wrap that up into a story about her charming innocence because she's not that young. Crazy could be interesting, but she is not. If I posit a person who has literally no good or interesting qualities other than their body, I could totally imagine them getting swept up in a conventional marriage. But I can't believe that multiple smart guys who've been around would get to the point where they have ample reason to believe she will get them imprisoned or killed and then stick around after, if there's nothing else to recommend her besides her body. At this point it's been a while, so I'm only going to dimly remember the plots, but let's say we spot the show the small-time black pot grower, because at that point she is still a widowed housewife and that makes her helplessness and abandonment kind of romantic. But by the time she meets the big-time Mexican dealer, supposedly for a professional relationship, we're to believe that she is so hot that he doesn't even notice that she is dangerously bad at the job they both share, and that they are supposed to do together? I just don't think the world revolves around a hot body quite that much in real life.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:10 PM
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There are people who act alert in conversation and still make staggeringly dumb decisions, who don't exactly come across as dumb-as-sexual-turnoff. I think she achieves that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:13 PM
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Weeds went from being an inspired nearly-realistic comedy of manners in season 1 to English language telenovela when there was a tunnel to Mexico, complete change of tone.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:16 PM
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Hawaii loves telenovelas more than anything else in the world. Each evening when the soccer game ends, she pulls up a chair and stares, absolutely transfixed, at the beautiful people and their highly emotional lives. She does not speak Spanish, fwiw.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:18 PM
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the way that traces of the radical left get preserved in mainstream culture

OITNB had the horrifying mistake of suggesting that the radical nun went to Nicaragua to help "overthrow the Sandanistas." It was obviously an error, but god, what a maddening screwup.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:34 PM
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I found MLP's character on West Wing unbearably hot, in a perfectly boring and predictable fashion. There's a woman in LA politics who has a very similar look and quality (something about a tiny overbite and an unshared joke) and it drives me a little bit nutty.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:37 PM
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She does not speak Spanish ...yet.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:50 PM
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I've actually never watched any Weeds. Nor have I smoked any weed. I don't know if there's a connection there.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:52 PM
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Me neither. The later was just chance of who my friends and acquaintances were when I was picking up substances to use. The former was because the internet killed my attention span.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 1:56 PM
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She does not speak Spanish ...yet.

I have some futile, febrile hope that if I keep watching soccer on the (free) Univision live feed, I will eventually learn some Spanish beyond "gol," "pelota," peligroso," and "falta." So far, my progress is, shall we say, minimal.

I have no opinion about the TV show under consideration, except some vague pleasure that at least people aren't talking about yet another sitcom/reality show of twentish-year-olds living mysteriously opulent lives.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 5:25 PM
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Hawaii loves telenovelas more than anything else in the world. Each evening when the soccer game ends, she pulls up a chair and stares, absolutely transfixed, at the beautiful people and their highly emotional lives.

And what does she do when the telenovela starts?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 5:42 PM
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80: you forgot "sigue".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 5:49 PM
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78, 79 Huh. Sort of surprised. Would have expected that practically everyone I knew, including in an imaginary pixel way, would have inhaled at least once.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:07 PM
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If I'm ever in Colorado, I'll try it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:15 PM
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82.--Yeah, I hadn't until now actually translated "sigue." Just had a vague sense of "it's following in order" but with urgency. Learning by osmosis has to go with some effort, I guess.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:24 PM
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OhGod, it wasn't MLP's body that is hot in Weeds, it was her dedicated and compulsive sociopathy. And her luck.

It wasn't just that she was every dude's dream "bad girl" who loves breaking the rules for the sake of breaking them, there was something more. Not innocence. No, she was not stupid. Just completely disconnected from what most people give a fuck about.

Hotttt.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:35 PM
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Compare, on the show Nancy to Heylia James (Tonye Patano) who is always looking at Nancy like:"There are rules, you dangerous bitch."

Compare Nancy to Walter White on BB and think about it for a while. Nancy is not tormented or compelled to find reasons or ambitious justifications.

There is also an element of pure action in Nancy Botwin, of surrender to intuition.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:43 PM
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You watched BB dubbed in Spanish or 45 is really recent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 6:54 PM
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88:I read a lot, including reviews.

Nancy also doesn't give a fuck about her boyfriends, and they know it. And her brother and kids float back and forth betwen denial and horror. Nancy is so beautiful, so pure.

The point of Weeds is telegraphed in the first episodes would be trite if it wasn't pushed so far by a brilliant actress. The patriarchal roles of wife and mother create and disguise a nihilistic sociopathy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:02 PM
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I find reading reviews too burdensome. I rely on the plot summaries in Wikipedia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:06 PM
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I feel like their take away is mostly that prison is another stage-setting like a radio station or the late sixties - vaguely educational and worthy, of course, but fundamentally just something that cultured TV-watchers consume.

This would seem to be about your friends more than it is about the show.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:09 PM
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mcmanus doesn't watch English-language television. He prefers good English-language television criticism.


Posted by: Opinionated Tom Townsend | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:40 PM
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51 is excellent.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:41 PM
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and thank you 92. hi, I'm the unfogged Like button.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 7:41 PM
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Huh, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that 92 was pwned long ago.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:14 PM
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That line has been referenced several times at unfogged.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:32 PM
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Oh hey I can confirm that MLP is just as lovely in person, as she is one of the celebs they got to show up for an act of whatever opera at opening night.

Also she really is a fantastic actor though I'm told her performance in Hedda Gabler was humorously similar to that on Weeds. She was wonderful in Proof.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:36 PM
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She's famously a nightmare to work with or in person. Great actress though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-18-14 8:43 PM
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And 90 is also an echo of the thread linked in 95.

But hey, at least 83 shows that there are (or were) somethings that haven't been revealed yet.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 7:15 AM
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Heh, read the link in 95. That's how I read Wikipedia pages--there are many things that are a complete waste of time when they're a two hour movie or ten hour book, but they still have a useful idea or two that comes across in a three minute wiki summary.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 7:20 AM
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||

Have finally found a link to a complete version of my favourite music video of all time, of which I'd previously only seen clips. I am content.

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 7:49 AM
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also, mileages vary, but I thought MLP on Weeds was the single most hateful protagonist I'd ever seen on television.

I agree, but I also at times thought Bob's reaction right. Part of my frustration with the show was that I wasn't sure which the show creator was going for.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-19-14 3:42 PM
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101: Good Lord, that's tremendous. Thank you.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 4:46 AM
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101 is truly splendid. That, right there, is victory in the Cold War. Takes me back to the early 90s - bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, etc.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-20-14 5:05 AM
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