Orange is the New Black Returns

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Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) has blood on her hands

It’s bigger, it’s better, it’s more ballsier and it’s back with a bang! The quirky sleeper cult hit Orange is the new Black (OITNB) returned for it’s second season via Netflix this month (the entire season released in one hit) and is due to hit Australian screens July 16th and thankfully, the show does not suffer from second season disappointment (Dexter anyone?).

With the foundations laid for the main characters during season one, season two brings us Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) loosing some of her spotlight to the supporting characters that have now been beefed up and brought to us front and center. Characters including Big Boo (Lea DeLaria), Leanne Taylor (Emma Myles), Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) and Black Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) – among others, are given more time to shine, grow and allow us to learn more about them – making OITNB less of a show about Piper Chapman’s foray into prison and more of a wonderfully dark, funny and touching ensemble.

So with the focus less on Piper and more on the inmates, the prison staff and on Piper’s friends and family, one need not worry about the show changing too much and straying away from what made us love the show in the first place.  There’s a new character joining the prison in Vee Parker (great casting of Lorraine Toussaint), a returning inmate with past connections to Red (Kate Mulgrew) and Taystee (Danielle Brooks) and who plays a major part in this second season shake-up that brings race wars to the forefront between the black, Hispanic and white groups and leaving Red (Kate Mulgrew) trying to keep herself afloat in the bid to be top dog.  The suspicions of Fig (Alysia Reiner) and her penchant to spend prison money on personal items come to light along with prison guard John (Matt McGorry) and inmate Diaz’s (Dascha Polanco) pregnancy woes plus we get to learn a little more about Morello (Yael Stone) and her mystery fiancee Christopher.

The incredibly diverse roster of characters – from race to religious beliefs and sexuality, so varied it is, is only viable due to the shows setting yet each identifiable trait is given just the perfect amount of vibrancy and life.

If there was one thing that I was disappointed by – it would be the under-use of Taryn Manning as Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett who (no real surprise) survived her beating by Piper in the season one finale.  Pennsatucky played such a major part in season one – right until the season finale that seeing her being ‘muted’ down in this second season was a let down.  Don’t get me wrong, Pennsatucky still has some killer scenes and one liners and getting to see her struggle with identity is a fresh angle for the character but it’s nothing on what we were offered in season one.

While the closing scenes of this second season are in no way as brutal or shocking as it’s lead-in, we are left with some clean slates and some minor loose ends that lead the way for an exciting third season.

Orange is the New Black starts Wednesday July 16th 8:30pm on Showcase for FOXTEL.

 

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