SMALL SCREEN: Kyle Wells

Kyle Wells dishes on the slow summer months on TV, and catching up on Netflix's Orange is the New Black

These are the lean days of television, my faithful readers. Hopefully, like a squirrel getting ready for the worst of winter, you have packed away some nourishment on your PVR and Netflix list, because it could be a long one.

Of course fall is harvest time, when all the new shows that have been growing for months are ready for consumption. But between now and then, we’re left mostly with preserves. I’ll stop with the food puns now.

At least this gives me a chance to reflect on just how good Orange is the New Black is. I know the second season has been out for nearly two months now, but I haven’t really had a chance to go on about it.

I realize I champion Netflix a lot, but it’s because I genuinely think its doing great things for TV (other than claiming shows as “original” when they’re really just taken from other channels. See From Dusk Till Dawn or Rectify).

But Netflix has done nothing better than to put so much trust and confidence in the creation of this truly groundbreaking show. Can you imagine any traditional network producing a show with a cast that is 90 per cent women, features characters of all ethnic backgrounds and sexualities, and treats all of them with such humanity, all in a show as compelling and edgy as anything on HBO?

I know a lot of men who watch Orange is the New Black and don’t hesitate to praise it. Not that the show needs a male audience to succeed, but it proves if you can write compelling, human, well-rounded female characters who aren’t just there to look good or support a male lead, you will attract viewers of all sorts and who will relate to those characters on that level.

I was already a big fan of Jenji Kohan from Weeds, a show I loved till the end, but with this show she is doing something truly special, something important.

Speaking of female leads, the only show I have any interest in that is premiering soon is The Honourable Woman, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, who I think is just fantastic. This eight-episode miniseries, a political thriller surrounding arms dealing and Israel, is a BBC production, but it’s going to air here on CBC, and it looks rather complex and fattening.

So don’t worry, there’s always something good to chew on. OK, I’m stopping for real this time.

 

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