Orange Is The New Black is turning the tables on us — and possibly pulling the rug out from under our feet. Season Three’s focus on faith and community shines a new light on some of our favorite and least favorite characters, and I’m not sure who’s who anymore.
Remember how we all felt about Pennsatucky? Or Bennett? Or Soso, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes”, or Sophia? Well, it’s more complicated this season as we see different sides to these characters — unexpected sides, softer sides, worse sides. None of these characters are all bad or all good. They’ve become grey areas, something worth contemplating when discussing which characters we still love.
Like I hoped, we’ve gotten to see more about the prison guards and their journies to the correctional institution of Litchfield, particularly Bennett and the new counselor, Berdie Rogers. We’ve gone back and seen backstories of characters who were more in the background in previous seasons, like Norma (heart-breaking), Angie (unexpected), and Chang (disturbing).
This season, I’ve grown rather attached to Pennsatucky, who I previously disliked intensely for her religious dogma and treatment of those around her. I never thought I would sympathize with her, or even like her. But this is what makes Orange Is The New Black so good: it forces you to consider life from another perspective, and gaining understanding is the first step toward acceptance of those who may not share similar life experiences.
Soso, too, has become a sympathetic character, struggling to see the truth of her surroundings and the truth about herself. Her interactions with Norma’s group, Mr. Healy, and drama class have painted a picture of a lonely, troubled woman who is just now realizing the depth of her need for connection.
Angie, someone I never thought I would like or understand, ends up having an unexpected backstory, growing up in a religious environment focused on rules and regulations for keeping the pecking order in place. Her growing attachment to Norma and their new religion parallels her old life and her search for stability.
I didn’t expect to love any of these characters, but here I am, wanting to wrap them in a big hug and keep them safe. Unlike the new feelings I’ve experienced for Bennett, who has managed to become one of my least favorite people after dumping his duties and running away from responsibility (a pattern we see has been a constant in his life).
Monsters don’t look like monsters. We’ve bought into the “pretty means good” and “ugly means bad” mentality, and are far more trusting of a beautiful stranger than a plain acquaintance. Why is that? Do we truly believe beauty is goodness? If we do, that belief is about to be shattered by Orange Is The New Black.
With only a third of the season left, I’m quivering with anticipation at the possibilities. I’m hoping my favorites (or at least, the favorites that are left) stay safe and that Litchfield won’t dissolve under the new regime. I believe this is a special show, one that allows for character growth, which in turn gives the audience a chance to change. Here’s hoping for an Orange Is The New Black season four and the continued discussion of diversity, religion, and community.Image Credits: Netflix