Monday, October 28, 2013

Crazy Eyes Went Full Shakespeare (PG-13)

Show of hands, how many people have checked out the Netflix Original "Orange Is The New Black"? In Netflix's own words, it's "Trying to become HBO before HBO becomes us."

Here's the highlights if you know nothing about the show : It's set in a women's prison.  And it is original unrated content.  Which means highly NSFW and really potentially offensive to those with more delicate sensibilities.  If you hear "women's prison" and you think "gratuitous nudity and lesbian scenes" then you'd be absolutely right - in the first episode.  The expected scene comes so quickly that I'm pretty sure the creators put it in there just to say "Here you go, everybody that came expecting that, you got what you wanted, now sit down and watch for the story."

The theme of the show is about having nothing to hide, and having to come to terms with the ugly truth about who you really are. The inmate that's your worst enemy one day may need a favor from you the next.  You're innocent, it's your cellmate that's crazy...or is it the other way around?

Which brings us to "Crazy Eyes," whose real character name happens to be Suzanne.  The first time we see her it's in the context of another prisoner's first day orientation and the lesson, "Don't sit with Crazy Eyes at lunchtime."  But Crazy Eyes has more depth than you might imagine!  She's always singing, or rattling off some original poetry to her latest crush.  When an "acting opportunity" comes up for the inmates, she's disappointed to learn that it is one of those "Scared Straight" programs for teens, because "other prisons get to do Shakespeare and sh*t. I want to play a role!" Not that that stops her.

This "Best Of Crazy Eyes" clip is all I could find. Warning again, these are highlights from a NSFW and potentially offensive show.  The Shakespeare starts at 1:37 and goes to 2:07. You're going to want to stop at 2:10 unless you want to see how inmates in a women's prison get back at each other when they are wronged (no violence, just a real WTF moment):

What I like about the clip is that it's not random.  If Suzanne was just the generic lunatic that they had hanging out around the edge of the stage for random references, this would be strictly a comic piece - look, the crazy one throws down some Shakespeare.  But in later episodes we learn more about this character (just like all of them) and we learn that maybe she's no more crazy than any others. She had a real life before she came to prison.  There's another character who was a high school track star. One ran a restaurant with her husband. Maybe Suzanne was an actor?  I haven't watched the entire season yet so I don't know.

It's a good show, but it's hard to recommend.  There's not much nudity or violence, but there's an incredible amount of difficult language and content.  A character strapped to a bed in the asylum will make you cringe and reach for the fast forward button. Which is precisely why it's so good.  Definitely recommended, if you think you can handle it.

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