ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Recap: White Privilege Wins Again!
By Alicia Lutes on June 16, 2014
If my emotions were writing this recap, all they’d want to do is talk about the last :15 seconds of this episode (where all my dumb dreams came true), but my feelings are instead, so The Pornestache Returneth will just have to wait. Because — hoo boy — there’s a shitstorm of race relations churning its way through Litchfield and we’ve got a lot of things to say about it. Plus, we learned more about hard-nosed Rosa and her alleged curse, which was nothing short of a delight. So let’s jump right into it the Orange is The New Black goodness, shall we?
The race war, is really, mostly just between Vee, her girls, and the white folk — with either side vying for the support/affections of the kitchen staff (a.k.a. the Spanish Harlem girls, in particular Gloria). Oh gee golly gosh and wilikers now doesn’t that all just sound so representative and familiar? (Psst: it should America because IT IS YOU!) And when Red asks Gloria to hide her contraband when she realizes Caputo might be onto her racket it sends Vee into FOMO hyperdrive, further deepening the frenemy-laced rift between the two sides.
White people, whether they realize it or not, have the luxury of institutionalized power and control inherent in everything they do. Who run the world (sorry: the answer is not girls, Beyoncé)? White people. And simply being born with lighter skin affords you a certain privilege because you look just like the folks that have been running shit for ages. So does it matter that Healy pushed through Piper’s furlough in response to Rosa calling him useless? Nope. Because what everyone sees is the white girl got the golden goose. The tension that’s long been bubbling beneath the surface doesn’t respond to the details of the arrangement, it responds to Piper’s whiteness. Because it is indicative of a much, much bigger problem.
Like it or not, Piper’s furlough really went and piled the shit on top of the fan. Nobody gets furlough! Not Poussey when her mother died, or Sophia when the same happened to her father. Sick white grandma gets a pass, though? Of course the women are upset! Of course it read as institutionalized racism, regardless of what actually went down because it spoke to a much larger problem. And when you look at the evidence, who could really blame them for their outrage? Wouldn’t you be pissed?
White privilege is real. And while Piper may have been justified in many ways in her sorry-but-also-not-sorry rant, it didn’t stop Suzanne from throwing her pie — at her this time instead of for her. Because these are women in an already-helpless situation seeing unfair advantages given to the white folk even though they’re all criminals. By and large Piper has it so, so fucking easy compared to most of these women: and now she’s got a golden ticket, too? The more things change, the more they stay the same, folks.
But actual change did come this episode: the curse of Rosa was lifted. It was lovely to see her get a moment of relief after all she’s been through, particularly with men she cares about. You see, we learned a bit more about that so-called Kissing Curse of hers in slick, badassedly 70s flashbacks of the terminally ill inmate’s earlier days. Turns out? Rosa was, no surprise here, a total badass. All cool sunglasses and rough ‘n’ tough exterior. Which, for all its cool, made it especially heartbreaking when juxtaposed with her current situation. “I pictured myself going out in a blaze of glory,” she explained upon her return. “But this kind of death? This slow, invisible disappearing into nothing? It’s terrifying.” Ugh, Rosa
At least she got a bit of happiness on this day, though. Fresh off learning that the D.O.C. would not be paying for a surgery that could potentially save her life — resulting in Rosa calling him useless and Healy getting so butthurt he went and pushed through Piper’s furlough — Rosa was reunited with her lil chemo buddy and the unlikely duo had themselves a good ol’ time stealing $63 from the drunk nurse at chemo. When he was immediately called to the doctor’s office she was convinced he would be receiving his death sentence, only to hear the opposite: he’s in remission. Aww! It brought a tear to Rosa’s and our eye alike. These women deserve to experience at least a little bit more happiness than they do in their daily. They might be prisoners but they’re still people, jeez.
Which also made the storyline of Soso, this week, so particularly heartbreaking. Sure, she stinks and smells and is generally the most annoying inmate in Litchfield, but she’s still a person and she’s clearly — clearly — depressed. Why else would she not shower? Why else would be blather on and on and on, hoping to connect and/or find a friend in anyone? Soso, for all her peppy enthusiasm, is slowly losing it, and we’re more than a little bit concerned for her mental well-being. Soso probably wasn’t crying because someone was making her clean, she was likely crying because she’s lost a lot of her autonomy, and no amount of “passive resistance” will allow her it back. Not until she’s on the outside — if she even makes it out. We’re more than a little worried she might kill herself. Think about it: would that sort of an ending for Soso really be all that big of a surprise?
Odds and Ends:
– PORNSTACHE IS BACK! PORNSTACHE IS BACK!
– Sure he’s the worst but that’s exactly what makes him the best.
– He’s going to complicate the shit out of everyone’s lives and for that we are incredibly grateful on a storytelling level.
– Caputo is on a rampage: he fired Fischer. So crazy, right?
– Also how is it that he’s even sexist when it comes to vegetables?!
– “Bitch vegetables … broccoli is no pussy.” <—— Seriously, Caputo?
– The constant assertion — “I keep you safe and clean” — regarding the women is so amazing.
– Seriously, Jenji Kohan, how did you manage to pinpoint the well-meaning but totally misogynist origins of sexism like that?
– Fig is so ridiculous with her gumshoe outrage.
– Though she’s also hilarious: “M. Night Shalamalama.”
– “You have a ‘Love is…’ cartoon crush on her.”
– Also, we’re fans of the Nicky Nichols/Joel Luschek (the electrician)’s buddy-buddy friendship.
– Serious question: are dreams where you save everyone a thing?
– Honestly it sounds like a dude thing. Or maybe just an egomaniacal, hero-complex-having thing?
– Who’s your favorite inmate: Gloria or Sophia?
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Are you caught up on this episode of OITNB? Tell us what you thought about it in the comments (or on Twitter)!