So I Did the Inevitable OITNB Binge- by Michael Dezort


So I just finished OITNB, Season One.

My introduction to this new show was a subway ad at 103rd St that I would absent-mindedly look at while I waited for the C train to show up… which, let’s face it, is whenever she god-damn-well feels like it… especially if you’re hot, sweaty, and running late. But I looked at the ad and thought it looked like something that was trying too hard, and that the characters actually looked like caricatures of female prisoners. What’s interesting about that?

However, over the next few weeks, I suffered through several Facebook tsunamis insisting on its originality, quality, and finally, it’s “OITNB Season Finale…OMGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!” (Whatever that means.)

This did not result in me wanting to see what all the hubbub was about. In fact, it had quite the opposite effect. I existed in my ignorant, pre-OITNB world, convinced that I was original because I was not participating in this new sensation. Then…trashy TV night happened.

What began as a simple invitation: “Michael, come over to Skylar’s tonight, we’re gonna watch the Housewives and drink wine!” ended up changing my life. Now, granted, it is my own fault, because I was running a bit late (I know this comes as a shock to all of you who know me.) My friends, always having my best interests at heart, waited for me to get there before they started the truly trashy TV. So, instead of being greeted by gross little Italians wrestling, motionless blonde-framed faces, and tears (my personal favorite), I was greeted by orange uniforms, tattoos, and a really sad looking Reese Witherspoon-like person.

My hostess then provided me with a table on which to eat my deli salad, offered me a glass of wine, (which I declined because my mama taught me right- having brought my own six pack of Yuengling), and instead offered me a bottle opener, (which I also declined.) I twisted the top off with my hand, took a drink, and sat, transfixed, watching episode two of Orange Is the New Black, asking all the questions that a newbie has to ask: “Why is she in jail in the first place? Oh shit, why did she just smack her? Why can’t she get any food??!!”

The episode ended, we agreed it was really well written and acted, and then proceeded to watch the Jersey Housewives as well as the OC Housewives. We laughed as Gretchen proposed to her boyfriend, none of the OC Housewives’ faces moved, and the Jersey Housewives and their families continued to fight with each other (and make up with each other, briefly, upstate).

We had our laughs, our drinks, and eventually made our way home. I always have an amazing time with my best friends, but what stuck with me this night (besides scratches from my friend’s cat, James Bond), was that forty minutes of OITNB I had seen. I decided I needed to see the first episode, just because I had been a little confused jumping in midstream.

I binge-watched the first five episodes later that night, only able to stop when I looked outside and realized that the sun was throwing a brighter glow than my computer screen.

Then, the next few days happened, and I watched the rest of the season, as was possible, but stupid little things like work, gym, and friends kept getting in the way.

I loved it. I can’t sit here and claim that I know anything about any of the topics involved, but I found the characters compelling, the acting incredible, and the storyline highly addictive. There is also a through-current of humor, much of it very dark, that I really appreciate.

Knowing that the creator of this show, Jenji Kohan, was also the creator of one of my all-time favorite shows, Weeds, my one critique is this: On Weeds, Mary Louise Parker’s character-Nancy Botwin- started out as my favorite, but by the end, I had a really hard time even watching the show. I didn’t care what happened to her, because whatever it was, she probably deserved it. She did so many dumb things and made so many huge obvious mistakes, that if she had died at any point, I would have said, “Well… yeah. A Mexican drug cartel will do that to you.”

I’m already starting to feel this way about the main character Piper Chapman, based on the real life story of Piper Kerman. It’s okay to be a character that doesn’t quite have her shit figured out, that’s interesting to watch, but if she just does whatever is convenient for herself at every turn, she’s going to turn very Nancy Botwin very soon.

The season finale? Come on – saw that coming a mile away. I myself would have done that to the psycho druggie Jesus freak five episodes ago. What was hilarious though was that as the credits played, Netflix suggested, “Because I Watched Orange Is the New Black”…………. “Can’t Hardly Wait.” Yes, it is one of my favorite 90’s movies of all time, being a child of that time, but… what!? Did Netflix know that literally the night before I had watched that movie on my friend’s Netflix account? If not… what!?

Don’t get me wrong – Loved the show, loved the acting, loved the story. I can’t wait for the next season. If only to see what Crazy Eyes gets into.


Michael Dezort is a singer/actor, reluctant waiter, frequent drinker, and sometimes writer in New York City.

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