Well Jenji Kohan is at it again. The creator of Weeds has made another show. If those of you who are wondering, never saw the show, or lived under a rock between 2005-2012, Weeds was Showtime program that centered around a drug dealing suburban mom that had a very messed up sexual past and was filled with oddball characters. Kohan’s new show centers around a woman who used to sell drugs, has a very messed up sexual past, and is surrounded by oddball characters….who is now in prison.
No this is not a sequel series, it’s a whole new show based on the book with the same name. How does Jenji’s new series follow-up to her previous show that was once amazing, then annoying, then was forgotten because of the Breaking Bad hold up? As the owl in that ancient Tootsie Pop commercial once said,
There are BOOBIES! Lots and lots of BOOBIES! Ok, fine, I won’t make that the “real toast” despite the fact I want to. I must uphold my
journalistic, nerdy internet reviewer integrity and do this right. The show has some interesting characters. You have “Red,” the Russian who controls the kitchen and is in prison because of some mafia related stuff. Jason Biggs plays the main character, Piper’s, fiancée, Larry. He is a struggling writer and is trying to cope with the fact that she is in prison by edging (look it up) for the first few episodes. Finally, Laura Prepon plays Alex. Alex is Piper’s former drug partner and ex-lover. The cast is pretty large and I don’t have time (care enough) to mention all of them. Overall, between Piper, Alex and Larry there is a fair amount of drama, and overall the script allows for a bunch of very dark humor. As the show progresses you learn why each person is in prison, and the things they do to help make incarceration more bearable.
With this many characters, there is way too much going on. Someone’s trying to usurp power from Red, a security guard got one of the inmates pregnant, there’s a hot lesbian scene happening in the shower that I would rather the camera stay focused on. I sometimes feel I need one of those crime web charts just to remember who is who. It’s like Game of Thrones only there isn’t a badass Peter Dinklage to play all the angles against those trying to kill him.
Piper is…draining. Much like in Weeds, I’m not a big fan of the lead character. There’s nothing wrong with Taylor Schilling’s performance. In fact I’d say she should be nominated for an Emmy (if Netflix originals can be nominated). But Piper is just a headache sometimes. Just constantly getting in her own way and not thinking about the fact that outside prison rules do not apply behind the wall. She is a person, I feel, very similar to Nancy Botwin with the exception of one major difference: Piper mostly does the things she does out of naivety; Nancy did the things she did because she was selfish and didn’t listen to other people even when they were right. Piper looks like she’s learning how to live in the big house, but slowly. Nancy just never learned. So if anything, Piper could develop into an interesting person whereas Nancy started interesting, but became annoying.
All things considered, a pretty decent show. The people are interesting, and the acting is solid. The only thing I would recommend is a flow chart to keep track of all the subplots. I’m aware it’s a prison and a lot happens, but sometimes it gets confusing because not everything comes back to the main character. It’s been picked up for a second season, which I am actually looking forward to. Here’s hoping that more things come together and Piper becomes more enjoyable.
Take a Drink: Every time you see boobs
Take a Drink: Every time there’s a lesbian act of some kind
Take a Drink: Every time a flashback starts
Take a Drink: Every time someone refers to Mendez as “Pornstache”