"Orange Is The New Black" is so damn good that, apparently, we aren't allowed to finish it.
What I mean is that in our house, having powered through the first 11 episodes of the Netflix series, the person who controls the remote (let's call her Diane Tuman) has been suspiciously coming up with excuses about why we can't watch episodes No. 12 and 13 to conclude the inaugural season, which has left me to wonder why we are watching another damn episode of "International House Hunters," or, the real tip-off that something's rotten: "Keeping Up With The Kardashians." Is there any more clear sign of avoidance than for someone to willingly choose the Kardashians over Piper, Alex and Pennsatucky?
"It's too late at night" has been the most frequently stated reason for avoiding the tantalizing last two episodes that wait ever so patiently to be streamed from the great digital beyond into our little living room. I bought into this rationale because, it is true: The allure of power watching cable TV series is that you can queue up a slew of episodes then knock them down like row of perfectly placed dominoes. But with only two episodes left, and days gone by in which we have watched way too many Bravo reruns, I realized that the Remote Controller doesn't want Season 1 to end. It's a stall tactic, at least until Season 2 is closer to air time.
There's good and bad in this enforced state of cliff-hanging, since OITNB series was renewed for another season, which means instead of pathetically waiting for "Downton Abbey," where all the good British character actors so eagerly opt out of their contracts that "Downton" has left a pile of dead bodies higher than "Breaking Bad," we can instead obsess about the return of "Orange Is The New Black." But until the series is closer to offering us new episodes, we are going to sit here in this house hatching those two last episodes like penguins protecting those penguin eggs through the Arctic blast of winter, except without the Morgan Freeman voiceover.
In short, what makes OITNB such addictively compelling TV is:
1) Piper's perfect navigation of the mind-bending horror of having your every freedom and sense of self worth vacated during incarceration vs. the bald-faced discovery of your true survivor instincts and true inner self.
2) The way in which the apparently stereotyped characters so definitively morph into complex individuals
3) The shifting dynamics of the ensemble as relationships and incidents occur, echo and expand.
4) Pennsatucky. Why is the meth-head, abortion-clinic killer who gets adopted by the pro-life radicals as their "Christian" patron saint of life-saving named "Pennsatucky" when the "real" word is "Pennsyltucky"?
The actress who plays Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett (Taryn Manning) recounts how disheartening it was to not only be cast as Pennsatucky but to have had her teeth "enhanced" like she spent years sucking on Walter White's ice blue product. It's just not pretty, which is why "Pennsatucky" is the appropriately colorful nickname bestowed upon her. (For solace, Taryn Manning is enjoying the fruits of her labor. The actress and musician who fronted a band called Boomkat was last seen in Rosie O'Donnell's Instagram pic looking pretty happy, despite having to play a wingnut on TV.)
The proper term is "Pennsyltucky," a phrase that dates back at least to the early 1900's and that despite its deprecating bent does suitably interpret the Appalachian tendencies of certain rural burgs throughout Pennsylvania's midstate region. The word "Pennsyltucky" is a rock-solid bit of American linguistic invention, which is why I'm a little confused about why "Pennsatucky" is not "Pennsyltucky."
Still, the main point is: I'd like to FINISH Season 1.
Remote control takeover in process.
Is a former political and sports columnist who worked great cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. She lives New York.