Realism in Linchfield Prison and an escape in DefiancePosted: July 30, 2013
I have been getting into a lot of sci-fi recently. And by sci-fi I could almost say SyFy. In the past couple months I have watched all of Lost Girl, Warehouse 13 and Defiance. But after getting a text from my little sister telling me that Orange is the New Black is “her shit,” I decided to watch it. I watched the pilot episode the same day I watched the season finale of Defiance and the contrast is why I thought to write this post.
I’m not sure when during Orange it hit me, but sometimes out-of-this-world sci-fi is awesome and other times gritty, terrible realism is also awesome. I love sci-fi shows that I have to watch numerous times to really understand everything is happening because it is so unfamiliar. But, I was also a few credit hours shy of minoring in Sociology/Criminology and love the dead accurate realism of Orange.
Maybe the hit me during the episode of Orange when Tricia died. People hardly ever die and stay dead in sci-fi shows — Xena being the prime example, but also Steve in Warehouse 13 and Nolan on Defiance. But in realistic shows, 19-year-old druggies succumb to their addictions and die scared and alone in a closet.
Orange has an amazing ability to be both hilarious and eye-openingly realistic. I could drop a bunch of sociology terms and classify multiple of the characters like they were part of my midterm, but I don’t want to do that. It is a television show. An amazingly racial and sexual diverse television show and — much like Piper’s sex life — I don’t want to label it or explain it like a textbook.
Sci-fi is sometimes a fun escape from reality. If a world existed where a shimmery Jaime Murray took that many baths wearing that beaded outfit, I would much rather live in it than one where an justice systems fails hundreds of drug addicted kids, like Tricia, and institutionalizes people beyond repair, like Tastee.
Orange is probably the most original series I have ever seen. I have already seen Defiance compared to Battlestar Galacetia, Firefly and its got numerous Shakespearean plots. But sometimes, these show aren’t that different. Orange season one finale has Piper being cornered by a methhead Jesus freak calling her a she-devil shortly after the thought first entered her head that maybe she is. Defiance season one has Shatma singing to Kenya, who she loved and just killed to protect her power even though it might all be lost.
I guess what I am saying with this post is I liked watching Defiance and Orange is the New Black back-to-back. Because sometime watching a maybe Messiah teen-aged alien jump into a mysterious lava pit in an underground mine to somehow save her adopted father and watching a fake jailhouse Messiah get beat to shit be another inmate is just as similar as it is different. Viewers just have to think about how fiction is just stories about people, who sometimes make bad decisions, regardless if they are as real as humanly possible or as alien as an Irath. And maybe one day we could all be in that situation.