You’re going to have to pardon my ignorance, because I don’t know if this is just a widely used phrase, or if someone actually coined it, but people go around saying something among the lines of “no great movie is perfect”. They should only expand it to television shows, at least when they talk about Orange is the New Black, which is unquestionably not a perfect show, but also unquestionably one of the very best shows television has to offer. It was my favorite show of 2013, and now that its second seasons just premiered on Netflix, it has wisely been chosen by Nathaniel Rogers as this week’s entry for the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.
I still have a couple episodes to go, so I don’t know if Orange is the New Black‘s second season is better or lesser than its first, but I do know that it has been equally entertaining and satisfying to watch. Jenji Kohan and the rest of the crew have worked hard to keep up the humanistic emotion of the show, while addressing a lot of the first season’s weaknesses. Some of them remain (the broader comedy doesn’t always land, and Jason Biggs’s storyline is still a drag), but most importantly, the show keeps doing what it does best in its unflinching search for humanity in all of its characters. And so, I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that my favorite moment of the season came from the two characters that I hated the most at the end of season one. Pennsatucky (who seemed like too cartoonish a villain) and Healy (who was just a huge jerk), suddenly emerged as incredibly tragic figures (I’ve seen them being referred to as “Pennsahealy” on Twitter). Their heartlessness has removed them from the world, and so, as they seat alone on a bench in the cold, I couldn’t help but be moved.
That’s what I love about the show. It makes me care and feel for characters I didn’t know I could care about.