Over the weekend, I binged-watched Jenji Kohan's prison dramedy "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix. While I had a frustrating relationship with Kohan's previous show, "Weeds," the prospect of such a female-heavy cast was too much to resist. And to my delight, I found the experience of watching the show to be heartbreaking, moving, and exhilarating. Where "Weeds" had repelled me by its insistence on reducing many of its characters to nasty tropes for the sake of glib humor, here Kohan seemed committed to creating full-bodied characters. As the theme song says, perhaps "everything is different the second time around."
And then the finale happened. SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.
While it was not wholly unexpected, I felt like I had been gut-punched (or perhaps in this case, tit-punched). Sick and uncomfortable in the way I felt after finishing a Thomas Hardy novel. Perhaps it was the nature of binging, the intense emotional roller coaster in a short period of time. I intend to rewatch the episode and scene again with a clearer head.
Though the advantages of Netflix's whole series dump are clear, the one big drawback is the the lack of discourse available. For weekly shows like "Mad Men," for instance, one of my favorite parts of the experience is reading the recaps throughout the web that dissect small details and find a larger context for the conversation. With a show that not all of America is experiencing at the same time, however, it can be difficult to discuss major plot points without spoiling the experience for everyone else. So the other day I put out a call on Facebook for people who had finished all 13 episodes, and was fortunate to receive a reply from my new friend, actress Adriana Jones. Below is a copy of our dialogue.