I was hesitant to give a Netflix original a try back in 2013, but when the buzz around “Orange is the New Black” became too loud to ignore, I was swayed to appreciate the brilliant concept streaming really is: Consumers like it because of the lack of annoying network regulations and censorship, plus no commercials, and the ability to devour episode after episode without waiting a week in between (thanks to Netflix for that; other platforms like Hulu lack that particular perk). Showrunners probably appreciate the flexibility and innovation. And Netflix, well they get to see their numbers start shooting up because no one wants to be left out when the hype starts circulating about an awesome new show, so they hurry to sign up. Without delving into too much research, I believe Netflix was the first to offer streaming-only television. Now Hulu and others like Amazon Prime and HBO Go have jumped on the money-making bandwagon. I haven’t strayed too far from Netflix because it’s still top banana in my eyes, but I may have to make an exception soon to check out Aaron Paul in “The Path” (Hulu).
Anyway, the list of Netflix originals started small and has significantly expanded over the past couple of years and within the past few months, I’ve finally started to branch out and try a few more. Some of the newer ones with short episodes and truncated seasons take barely a day to watch. Others are more of a long-term commitment. And many are pleasant surprises. Below is a sampling of the ones I’ve tried so far and where they rank in my personal opinion.
The OG of Netflix originals. I was hooked instantly on the story of Piper Chapman, a wealthy good girl whose brief stint as a drug mule catches up to her just before the statute of limitations reaches its cut-off. She winds up having to leave her fiancé and incredulous family grappling with many questions and a slight inability to cope with these revelations as she enters a women’s prison in upstate New York for 15 months. What ensues is a very real, scary, uplifting, unflinching, funny, and sometimes heart-breaking look at life as an inmate. I read the biographical tale on which the show is based and was impressed with how the smallest paragraph in writing became a running theme for an entire episode on screen. I love learning the backstories of these incredibly complex characters. The show does hit some speed bumps, particularly as the seasons go on, but it still has that X factor that keeps you coming back for more. It’s also morphed into an all-out event that keeps viewers itching with anticipation. When season 3 was released a day early last year, the social handles for the show knowingly acknowledged that people would be devouring it all on the spot, tweeting out questions like, “Who’s still with us?” at 4 a.m. with winking emojis. It’s fun to feel like you’re part of a collective watching party and few shows elicit that vibe the way OITNB does. Continue reading
The same weekend that had me glued to my seat during Jurassic World is also when I binged (i.e. sat in my basement like a hermit for endless hours every day) the third season of Netflix’s breakout prison dramedy. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have claimed to give OITNB a try and “just couldn’t get into it.” I don’t understand those people. I will admit that the series probably wouldn’t survive if it was formatted as a typical weekly primetime show, because it definitely doesn’t move fast enough for that. If it’s your least favorite character’s turn to get their backstory exposition, you’d be likely to tune out. But that’s why Netflix is such an awesome platform for TV in this digital era. 12 episodes are so easily consumed over the span of a week or less and viewers are SO hungry for more when those episodes pass and they can’t view any more new ones until an entire year later. It can be torture. At least when “The Walking Dead” ends in February, I know I only have to wait another … 8 months (wow, that sounds long!) instead of 12.
This season had its high and low points. They’ve started to paint Piper as a sort of insufferable monster, but they also focused on some characters who until this point had just been background noise in the grand scheme of life at Litchfield. The internet is freaking out over the discovery of Ruby Rose, the androgynous and beautiful Aussie whose character of Stella became a romantic interest for Piper. And what stands out for me had nothing at all to do with character development, but the final scene in which (SPOILER ALERT), they all seemed to experience such absolute delight in their fleeting moments of freedom while swimming in that lake. How something so simple can become so joyous really illustrated how much we take our freedom for granted.
Technically award season never ends, what with obscure music awards scattered throughout the summer months and the ever-dreadful VMAs in August, but I always look to the Emmys to kick off another year. They’re not my favorite award show, but they’re more official than even the Golden Globes (think EGOT).
I’m a severe television addict, which should mean I get excited for this particular golden statue, but I’ve admittedly grown very tired of seeing the same names year after year. Shows that aren’t even funny anymore continue to win Best Comedy (I’m lookin’ at you, “Modern Family”) and phenomenal performances are overlooked in favor of more famous faces (Monica Potter was so painfully snubbed last year for her ugly-sob inducing work on NBC’s “Parenthood.”)
So imagine my surprise this year when some new talent was finally recognized on July 10 with the announcement of the 2014 Emmy noms. Continue reading
Netflix dropped a cute little Easter egg at the end of the House of Cards finale: the release date for season 2 of Orange is the New Black! We return to Litchfield on June 6. Good thing it’s a Friday because it’s probably safe to say you won’t budge from your bed/couch/cave until you devour all 13 episodes. No vacation days from work required. View the teaser after the jump. Continue reading
I started Orange is the New Black last week. I liked it.
I finished it last night. I didn’t like it so much.*
Here’s why: (SPOILERS!)
This is my first Netflix original and I think it’s a brilliant concept. Consumers like it because of the lack of annoying network regulations and censorship, plus no commercials, and the ability to devour episode after episode without waiting a week in between. Showrunners probably appreciate the flexibility and innovation. And Netflix, well they get to see their numbers start shooting up because no one wants to be left out when the buzz starts circulating about an awesome new show, so they hurry to sign up.
It seems like everyone has been talking about Orange is the New Black since its July 11 release. Now I can see why. In my last “To Watch or Not to Watch,” I wanted you to tell me whether I should continue with The Americans. Well now I’m telling you, if you haven’t tried out the pilot of this awesome prison dramedy, you need to do so. Or at least the trailer, which I’ve included beyond the jump. Now. Go on, I’ll wait. Continue reading