After a seemingly endless wait, the second season of the hit Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black, has been released to the streaming service in its entirety. This show was heavily hyped during its first run, and rightfully so. The story of Piper Chapman, a yuppie woman sent to prison for 15 months for smuggling drugs for her girlfriend nearly a year before, was a highly entertaining season.
The release of the second season is one of the more hyped ones in the history of Netflix and their original programming. After coming out on Friday, this weekend would spell a lot of binge watching by fans of the show. I can’t see tons of people pacing themselves with this one, since they have been waiting for it for so long.
The season begins with Piper being shuffled off to another prison, after the incident that concluded the first season. Apparently, beating another girl to a pulp gets you in some more trouble. Or so we are lead to believe.
In all honesty, Orange is the New Black Season 2 starts pretty slowly. There are even a couple of episodes near the beginning that barely has Piper appear in them, as the show continues its original path on focusing on one or two characters per episode, and showing their back story. But the show really is about Piper and her struggle in a world that is not hers, and when she isn’t in much of the episode, I feel that the episode was lacking. Not that the secondary characters are bad, or aren’t good for the show. In fact, they were so helpful in making the first season such a success.
A few episodes into the new season, the show begin to hits its stride once again. There are new characters that come in to the prison, including the cute, but annoying, Soso. She is a younger girl, a political activist, who talks incessantly. I assume she is there to be a humorous character, but she is quite annoying to begin with. Eventually, like the season, she settles in, and becomes a better, funnier, more interesting character. Her desire to protest everything, including showering, makes her far more interesting than the nattering mess she began as. Even during her sex scene, she manages to talk non-stop, which is one of her funnier moments. By the end of the year, Soso becomes a very likable character, and another strong addition to the show.
We are also introduced to Vee, a tough-as-nails drug dealer with connections to Taystee and Red from the past. She comes in and tries to re-arrange the pecking order in the prison, causing some of the major conflicts of the season.
In the end, the show remains about the journey that Piper is undertaking. Once the first few episodes are sorted out, we get back to her troubles, both inside the prison, and with her crumbling life outside of it. She has gone through changes, continuing on her path of toughness that she began in the first year. No longer is she the passive, nerdy, fish out of water, but she is starting to show that prison is a place that she sort of belongs. She has made a home for herself there, despite the numerous issues that keep arising for her. We as viewers spent the first season believing that she never really belonged in that place, but by Season 2, we start to wonder if that really is where she belongs. There is an anger that has bubbled to the surface with Piper, and it is fun to watch her character develop.
Inside the prison walls, the stories that we started to learn about in the first season continue on, so we aren’t left hanging with what happened to the women we started to care about. There are some new back stories that reveal a lot about the characters. There are also heightened tensions between the racial divisions and groups in the prison, which causes backbone to the season.
In all, perhaps the second season doesn’t live up to the hype of the first. It was massive, and would have been difficult to live up to. But, Orange is the New Black remains an excellent show, and the second season is eventually very entertaining. Once the fun returns to the show, it is an enjoyable look into the quirkiness, problems, personal struggles, and deeper societal issues with a minimum security person.