This Is What A Feminist Looks Like…Watching OITNB

So… you may have noticed that after the first episode, we haven’t followed up on our discussions of True Blood this season. And that’s mostly because while the show has continued (and we’ve continued to watch!), our conversation seems to keep folding back in on itself. We’re hitting the same points – either as praise or criticism – each week and it’s just felt stale. A quick recap of points we continued to rehash when discussing the season thus far:

  • There is no character continuity. Every single character on this show has given me an awful case of whiplash as they continue to act completely out of scope. When we first met Alcide we were presented with a Were that looked down upon pack mentality and battled his inner wolf, fighting to allow his sensitive side to show through. This season, all pretense of that is gone and Alcide has become an Alpha male in every sense of the term. And I (Sorry, Retta). Let’s not even talk about Jason and how he changes convictions almost every episode. He hates vamps! He loves vamps! Hate! Love! Ack.
  • Ennui re: Billith. I just can’t get it in me to care about the whole Bill/Lillith storyline. Which is a bummer, considering it’s a major one this season. I’m not sure if the show keeps pushing it because they love including the naked, bloody women, but really? It’s enough. It’s boring, and provides yet another character to act completely out of his scope (Bill).
  • Social commentary that has jumped the shark. The 1st few seasons of True Blood was pretty adept at providing some real life social commentary using vampires and humans as examples. Using the vamp/human relationship to allow for subtle analysis of both racial and religious issues felt compelling and smart. Now? It feels like they’re trying to hit you over the head with their Social Justice bat. And it hurts. Instead of sharp, careful commentary, it’s started to feel more like “Look at us! We’re talking about racism! Poverty! Sexism! Religious extremists!” When really, they’ve been doing a disservice to those things. Look no further than the waste of a character Lafayette has become. One of the strongest actors in that crew, and Nelsan Ellis has been relegated to playing a “mammy” character that acts as Sookie’s gal pal and Oprah, depending on what she needs in that moment. Lafayette had his storyline, but now that his boyfriend’s dead, he’s relegated to a poorly written side kick role. So yeah, True Blood. You can stop hitting us over the head with how well you handle issues like race.

So, while I will probably still be watching True Blood (I just can’t quit you, damnit!), I don’t think I’ll be blogging about it anymore, simply because I can’t bring myself to say the same things each week. Unless somebody out there want to convince me to change my mind?

However – while I won’t be chatting about True Blood, there’s another series that I’ve found myself diving into and loving every moment of (and chatting it up to anyone who will listen): Orange Is The New Black. A Netflix series helmed by Weeds’ Jenji Kohan, OITNB is based on a (true) book written by Piper Kerman.


Non-spoilery summary: Piper Champan (based on Kerman) finds herself headed to prison to serve a 15 month sentence for a crime she committed (and thought she had avoided punishment for) 10 years earlier. The set up: a white, upper-middle class New York City gal heads to lady jail could go bad real quick. The possibility for the show to be steeped in stereotype gave me pause until I kept hearing only good things. Then I found out that Laverne Cox, a wonderful trans* actress and activist would be playing the role of Sophia, a trans inmate. I figured I’d give it a chance. I am so glad I did.

This series is remarkable in the sense that is presents fully actualized characters that happen to be women. Go Figure. The characters are multi-facted, don’t slip into stereotypes, and draw the viewer in. This is due to both the stellar acting and writing of the show.

The entire first season is available to watch on Netflix – so carve out a weekend and get to it!

9 thoughts on “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like…Watching OITNB

  1. I’m watching it too. Great series. I’m so happy to see something different, but I do hope that if it goes on to another season that the writing doesn’t change–so many first seasons are great then they get “makeovers” that ruin everything.

    • That’s true, and while I’m a fan of the early seasons of Weeds, that show quickly took a spiral down that it never full recovered from. I’m hoping OITNB doesn’t go the same route. I have heard that Netflix has already ordered a 2nd season, so that’s awesome!

      On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 1:47 PM, The Mamafesto

  2. Completely agree with you about True Blood. But like yourself, for some reason, I’m still watching it… Gah!

    Am also just finished a watch of OITNB, and am too recommending it to all and sundry. A thoroughly enjoyable first season, with some very interesting character development.

    • My hope is that they keep up the show to such high standards in S2 and beyond (and know when to stop before it jumps the shark a la Weeds).

      On Sun, Jul 28, 2013 at 9:19 PM, The Mamafesto

  3. I gave up True Blood after last season, for many of the same reasons that you express your dissatisfaction here. Disappointing too, especially since it started off as a show with so much promise.

    Looking forward watching Orange is the New Black, however! Do you think you’ll be blogging about it?

  4. Can’t separate myself from True Blood. Possibly of interest to Mamafesto: Season 6, Episode 9, includes a close-up of an infant latching on. Has anyone ever seen that in a (mainstream, non-documentary) show or film before? I found it very striking.

    • I just watched that episode last night and saw that – good for them for showing a breast in a totally different light. My husband turned to me right after and said, “aw, you love Terry the lactation consultant, don’t you?” Ha!

      But you’re right, I can’t think of any mainstream film/tv where I can recall a scene where you see a baby latching on.

      On Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 1:23 AM, The Mamafesto

  5. Pingback: A Little Laverne… | The Mamafesto

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