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“Black” Magic

That title really makes this sound like some big, ambitious piece about race, huh?  It’s actually just referring to the fact that my favorite new TV shows all have the word “Black” in the title.

Orange Is the New Black

I SOOO did not want to watch this show because SO many people told me I had to.  Now I understand why no one I talk to ever ends up wanting to watch Parks and Rec.  HOWEVER, I came home from my sister’s wedding the other day and created a pillow-nest in my bed and even got my laptop perfectly situated where it was optimally visible, not in danger of falling off the bed, and not burning any part of my skin; also, I couldn’t think of what else to binge-watch on Netflix.

This show is so good.  There’s a thing that the following shows have in common: Game of Thrones, The Office, Parks and Rec, Firefly.  They all have big ensemble casts of genuinely unique, interesting, fully-formed characters.  No one exists solely as a foil or comedic relief.  Absolutely everyone has their own rich inner life and past.  Even the most ridiculously over-the-top inmates on OITNB have a backstory, and some tenderness, and a little bit of exciting unpredictability imbued by their often-obscured criminal pasts.

It’s also hilarious.  This is clear.  You’ve heard this by now.  But what people aren’t talking about as much is how many good, cathartic tearjerking little moments there are.  Sometimes it gets really hilarious, and the setting even starts to normalize and you feel like the characters are in any old place besides prison.  But then there are little things, like when a character who seems crazy to those who don’t bother to get to know her is turned into the butt of a joke by someone she cared about, and we see her shed a private tear (for initiates: I’m referring to Crazy Eyes listening to Larry’s NPR interview.  I wanted to hug her!)  The prison thing is such a really intriguing concept, one which I’ve never seen dealt with in the day-to-day way OITNB does (apparently Shawshank is not the appropriate basis for my vision of twenty-first century women’s penitentiaries?) and which constantly surprises and entertains.

Orphan Black

Also awesome, but in a waaaaay different way.  Because street cred is everything in geekdom, it bears saying that I read about this show before it premiered and was pumped to start watching it because I just knew is was going to be something.  I loved the premiere, but evinced my generation’s inability to keep a date with scheduled television by missing the second episode, which by the time I decided to binge on a couple at a time was not On Demand!  Only episodes 3 and 4 were, and the whole thing fell apart.  I had to wait for it on Netflix like the rest of the huddled masses, but oh well.

Anyway, now I’ve watched the first disc (eps 1-4) and am looooving it.  Basically it’s about clones.  There is amazing acting by Tatiana Maslany as roughly 7 clones, including often one clone impersonating another.  Each feels individual and lived-in and real; you genuinely forget it’s all the same girl.  Amazing.

I’m also just excited in a sci-fi way for the issues this is going to explore.  There is a murder mystery afoot already, and hints of a shady organization (hopefully The Company from Heroes), but what I’m looking forward to more is the concept of the “original”, which has been mentioned once or twice so far.  Cloning also produces questions of identity, uniqueness, godliness, naturalness/authenticity, and humanity.  The whole thing promises to be rich and contemplative and challenging, which I am completely up for.  There’s still time to jump on the bandwagon before it really blows up!


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