Following up her dissection of Netflix’s House of Cards, Becky Graebner now critiques the streaming internet TV company’s new offering from the creator of Showtime’s Weeds. See her previous posts in this series:
Growing up, little girls aren’t huge fans of little boys. Boys tend to be sticky, they smell, and they are usually annoying: stomping on sand castles and flushing Barbies down the toilet. However, there’s a serious transformation in the way girls view boys as they both age — eventually, we realize they aren’t all that bad.
At age five, little girls are convinced that boys have cooties and the precocious kindergartener starts to believe that her sex is superior to boys: girls rule, boy drool. However, by fourteen, girls are poring over magazines, reading about how to do their hair and how to act around young men they may find “cute.” Pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio decorate their walls.
By college, girls have just as many male friends as female friends and they’re even starting to think about marrying a guy (if that’s their preference). At this point, girls have come a long way from their cootie-averse days in pre-k. Men… they’re alright — they aren’t all jerks.
Despite this usual change of heart regarding boys — and the natural admission that your brother isn’t ALL that bad — it seems like Jenji Kohan, the writer/creator of Orange Is the New Black, decided to glaze over the positives of men and chose to write all of the show’s male characters as loser-lying-creepy manipulators. She probably still thinks men have cooties. Essentially, men = bad in this show, and Kohan shows the many facets of “male evil” in her male characters. Nobody is spared…
The Creep: Officer George Mendez
You may know him by his other name, “Pornstache.” If that doesn’t tell you enough about him, I’m not sure what will. Officer Mendez makes my skin crawl whenever he comes onscreen. His main tasks at work are coercing the inmates into giving him sexual favors, selling drugs, inappropriately touching inmates, and generally wreaking havoc among the prison population. He is a total scumbag, and I’d really like to see someone sock him in the mouth.
The Subtle Manipulator: Sam Healy
Mr. Healy seems nice but he manipulates Piper to his own ends, which leads me to believe he might have an unsavory trick or two up his sleeve. He tricks Piper into giving him the rogue cellphone and then tells her he is powerless to hold up his end of the bargain (opening the track). He also seems to have it out for the incarcerated lesbians—telling Piper to stay away from them at all costs. He also has a mail-order bride from Russia or Ukraine, which makes me think he might have some strange past that we don’t know 100% about. The the audience doesn’t quite trust Healy…
The Deadbeat: Cal Chapman
Piper’s brother is definitely an odd duck. He lives in the woods, dabbles in drugs and alcohol, and seems to spend most of his days “edging.” To be short, it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
The Loser: Larry Bloom
In the beginning, we liked Larry. He was funny and supportive of Piper’s incarceration, still asking her to marry him. Awwww, true love! Well, not so fast. Turns out Larry is a pathetic guy who still can’t get his life together—he lives at home, can’t pay his rent, and doesn’t seem to get the hint that he’s not a very good writer. In order to secure his pathetic self a piece of success, he decides to write about Piper in prison — not a smart or cool thing to do when you don’t quite have her blessing. But, I guess when you’re a loser, anything is fair game.
We don’t have many moments with Caputo — but we see him enough to realize that he’s really into newbie corrections officer Susan Fischer. He’s always making weird jokes, giggling a little too loudly, and using lotion for things other than his hands (at work). He obviously doesn’t care much about the women in the prison. He’s a bit of a womanizer, and I think we all secretly hope he gets sacked.
The Racially Insensitive Jerk: Joel Luschek
Luschek is the slob that acts as the head of the electrical department in Litchfield. He proves how inept he is after not teaching Janae how to properly mind the tools in “the cage,” leading to the loss of one screwdriver. Although not taken or used for violent purposes, its loss is very, very bad news. In order to save himself, he buys a new one and replaces it on the board — not caring where the real one ended up. (Note: it could reappear buried in someone’s neck.) He’s also the king of racially insensitive one-liners, referring to Janae as a “monkey” when she is put in the electrical cage.
The Weak Wildcard: Officer John Bennett
Bennett is probably the “best” example of the male species that we see in this show; however, he’s still not a good character. Bennett breaks protocol and succumbs to his weakness for accessible flesh, starting a secret relationship with Daya. This relationship is not only inappropriate, but also 100% unequal. He is in a position of power and she is a lowly, criminal. I don’t think this will end well.
Of all the men in Orange, I have the most hope for Bennett to turn out to be a good guy, but I won’t hold my breath. Knowing his other male cohorts, he’ll probably end up in the “bad brigade.”
Redemption for Men?
I understand that a real life women’s prison would likely have creepy guards — many of which could/would be male — however, I find it unfair that all of the males in this show are portrayed as bad people. Yes, the women are obviously flawed (they all ended up in prison for their mistakes), but through flashbacks and dialogue, we are meant to feel bad for these women — and even identify with them. The males are just… bad.
It’s almost an ironic joke: all of the males (who are not incarcerated) are evil, while all of the women who did engage in criminal activity are pathetic characters. Come on. Just for the sake of variety and realism, I hope Jenji Kohan introduces at least one good, male character. All of these women are searching for redemption and second chances — give the males the same opportunity!