English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Category: Review Topic 4 Page 1 of 5

The Battle Between Evil and Lesser Evil

After having watched the finale of Jessica Jones, it feels like all the scattered pieces of thematic conflict have come together, and a coherent message emerged. In fact, it’s explicitly brought up by the nurse as she talks to Jessica about her superpowered friend. And in this conversation, we get a better explanation of why Jessica can’t be anyone’s hero: she doesn’t know if what she’s doing is right or wrong. We’ve seen her struggle with guilt all season long as Kilgrave kills innocent people around them as a way to threaten her to act a certain way. The recurrence of this makes her feel like she leaves a trail of death behind her, making her question if killing Kilgrave is worth all the innocent people that may die because of it. This hesitation suggests to the audience that the line between good and bad is not always so clear-cut, and I think this is the main theme of the show. Sometimes, doing the right thing means putting a lot of people in danger.

In the conversation with the nurse, Jessica asks her, “How is he so sure he’s the good guy?”, referring to the nurse’s friend. In that moment, we get to see the question she’s been asking herself all this time, is she even the good guy? With all that blood seemingly on her hands, it’s understandable why she has moments of self-doubt. In fact, in the final battle, she must first pass through a crowd of people ordered to kill each other, to then defeat him by putting the person she cares about most in danger. This is what made Kilgrave so powerful: he could control Jessica by manipulating her guilt. As long as she felt guilty, he was untouchable. So, in a very un-glorious fashion, she must ignore the innocent lives in danger to finally kill Kilgrave. No wonder she doesn’t feel like a hero, even after terminating such a monster. As season 1 rolls to a close and Jessica deletes the messages of people asking for her help, we see that even after everything, she doesn’t see herself as the good guy everyone else does.

Above: Here, Jessica must hand over the most important person to her, her adoptive sister Trish, in order to kill Kilgrave.

Perceived Pandering; The Possible Superficiality of Themes

With the increased demand for television to represent public opinion and increase inclusivity of all types, television shows, including Switched At Birth, have responded by, at least ostensibly, supporting these themes. However, occasionally, such as in Episode 10 (The Homecoming), such demands are, in fact, bucked in favor of a blander, more palatable theme.

Take, for example, the existence of hearing-deaf relationships in the episode The Homecoming, whereby Bay (hearing) and Emmett (Deaf) formally agree to a relationship (leading to Emmett notifying Daphne (Deaf) of his decision to remain with Bay). Against the pressures of the Deaf community, many of whom desired a display of genuine Deaf-Deaf relationships, which had previously never been displayed on television, Freeform instead opted to portray a softer message of acceptance of all relationship types between Deaf and hearing individuals through the tones portrayed by each character. For instance, Emmett’s passionate yearning for Bay (as noted in the statement “I just want you” and “I don’t want a Deaf Bay”), far from embracing the attitude previously reiterated (of the incompatibility of him with a hearing girl), reverses the trend and, seemingly randomly, portrays him as more accepting. In addition, such themes can be seen in Daphne’s reaction of reluctant acceptance; by not portraying Daphne as immediately supportive, the episode thus pits acceptances against denials, and by extension, embraces an acceptance-based theme.

This image perhaps best represents the broad agreeable themes found in Switched At Birth of tolerance.

However, far from being merely a singular theme, the theme is symbolic of the greater nature of Switched At Birth’s at-times vague themes as a whole. For example, when compared to other themes such as its broad anti-gambling message, as expected from a family-friendly network, its tolerance-based theme represents a broader trend of simplistic, inoffensive traits, and as a result, represents the general public stance (in relation to Deaf relationships). However, such themes, as previously stated, can clash with the Deaf community’s perception. Thus, although Switched At Birth ostensibly provides a relatively progressive theme (in regards to Deaf culture), due to circumstances such as its channel of release, the primary themes that eventually resulted more so resembled the traditional television shows that it explicitly attempts to break from.

Moral Compass and Actin’ Pompous

 

Good evening fellow Scandal fans!!

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** these Scandalous feelings got me like…

Tonight, we are discussing THEME. The final episode of Scandal’s first season deals heavily with the theme of morality. Almost every single main character is shown facing questions about their morality. A long chain of immoral actions and unethical decisions becomes a vicious cycle as the culprits start lying in order to cover their previous mistakes.

Well, let’s begin at the start of the episode. It opens with a very gruesome scene that places Quinn at the scene of a horrific murder. Instead of calling the police, Quinn calls Olivia. Together the team argues over whether they are willing to break the law and risk their freedom to defend someone they barely know. Ultimately, they decide to break the law, not because they care about protecting Quinn, but solely because of their fierce loyalty to Olivia.

From here, the show depicts how Billy, the victim’s actual murderer, copes with his actions. He must decide whether he will come clean, run away, or cover it up. Initially, Billy really grapples with himself after killing the victim. In private, he struggles with his emotions, but he puts on a brave and innocent face in public. Billy finally decides to lie about this incident and make up an additional issue concerning the President, raising further questions of morality.

Next, the President must decide how he will handle his immorality. At first, it seems as if Fitz will do the unthinkable and actually tell the truth about his affair(s). Shockingly, his wife and former mistress (Olivia) convince him to lie about his affair with the office aide.

Finally, David, the Attorney General, condemns Olivia and her team for breaking the law. He calls himself the law and states he will always keep it. However, in the very last scene, we see David conflicted with compassion and the moral high ground. Thankfully for Quinn, David chooses compassion. But, we can tell this decision still really bothers him, as he feels he is betraying his country and his duty to uphold justice in this country.


Overall, this particular episode of Scandal desires to demonstrate to viewers that each human on this earth will face different questions of morality. In this episode, the show asks the hard questions like, “Is doing the right thing always right for everyone?” or “Is kindness more important than justice?” and of course, “How do you internally handle your immorality?”

Obviously, a show called Scandal will be dealing with some aspects of immorality. But, by showing how each character wanted to respond to the immorality they faced, versus what they ended up doing, Scandal shows us that the world is not strictly black and white. Sometimes good people do bad things for the right reasons. Sometimes bad people do good things for no reason. And, sometimes people just don’t know what they are doing at all, but they desire the best for others.


 

People Other Than Josh Chan Can Love Me?!

In “Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!”, Rebecca Bunch takes a flight to New York City to go back to her old life because she doesn’t believe she can find love, romantic or with friends, in West Covina. She has a conversation with her “Dream Ghost”, her therapist Dr. Akopian, after taking many sleeping pills. The show is arguing that mental health is a real issue and that adults in professional fields struggle with their mental health.

The show supports this argument by showing the adverse effects of abusing prescription drugs and the realizations that Bunch makes while using these drugs. Bunch ends up having vivid dreams involving her “Dream Ghost”, which shows how the sleeping pills make her hallucinate. She realizes in these dreams that other than her love for music and for her mother she doesn’t have any romantic love in her life. Dr. Akopian proves her wrong by showing her that there are people in her life that love her in different ways. Her therapist ‘takes her’ back to West Covina, where many of her friends are worried about her. Greg is particularly worried and had been searching for her at hospitals and morgues. This shows Bunch that her friends care about her and love her. It also makes her realize that she has been focusing on Josh Chan when she can find love in other places. Her anxiety is displayed through these instances because it demonstrates her worry about how others think about her and her assuming that she is not loved by people in her life.

The theme relates to the show as a whole because much of the show revolves around mental illness and how it affects Rebecca Bunch’s life and those around her. It also relates to conversations about mental health because mental health is something that isn’t heavily discussed in mainstream media. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show that does discuss mental health and its effects and does so effectively through this episode.

Rebecca Bunch and her therapist, Dr. Akopian.

Trust in Wynonna Earp

The sixth episode of Wynonna Earp, Constant Cravings, focuses on a theme of trust, parallel to its main plot. The trust lessons center around Dolls and Waverly. The episode questions the trust we have placed in Dolls and gives newfound responsibility to Waverly.

Waverly’s plot begins when her Uncle Curtis leaves her a riddle to solve. When she does she finds a skull and learns her uncle has left her to assume his title as “Keeper of the Bones.” Waverly takes this title as a vote of confidence in her abilities. Later, when the Blacksmith bonds her to the bones, the Blacksmith remarks “You poor sweet girl, what was Curtis thinking?” This remark highlights how Waverly is an unlikely recipient of the title “Keeper of the Bones.” She is the weaker of the two Earps, so it is surprising that Uncle Curtis chose to place his trust in her. Here the show questions who we should place our trust in, and it recognizes there may be an unlikely hero if we look a little harder.

The Blacksmith comments on how Waverly does not seem like a character who should be given a dangerous responsibility.

Dolls’ plot in this episode revolves around the revelation that he is addicted to drugs, something he lies about and hides during the episode. This comes as a revelation to the viewer because previously Dolls has been a morally upright character. At the end of the episode it is also teased Dolls may not be entirely human, which questions the amount of trust Wynonna should have for him. Overall, this episode questions who should be trusted in the show. It takes the character least ready for responsibility and trusts her with a huge burden, and it also takes the most responsible character and reveals he has been hiding something huge. This can be seen as a commentary on one’s own trust in others. Perhaps our own trust is misplaced and we should reconsider who we rely on.

You Want a War? Revenge in Sense8

The explosive beginning of Sense8 s2e11: You Want War? is dead-focused on the theme of revenge. It features Sun’s infiltration into her brother’s lavish gala, intent on killing him. The ensuing action sequences and car chase feature several moments when the other sensates give their input on Sun’s decision. Wolfgang, the dark killer seems to support killing Sun’s brother, whereas Kala seems to oppose violence in favor of making her brother confess. Will and Riley are neutral, ignoring the issue altogether and purely looking out for Sun’s safety. Through the other sensates, the metaphorical angels and demons on Sun’s shoulders, the authors of the episode present competing views of revenge. Should we seek retribution for past crimes or simply seek to right wrongs?

 

The show provides context for Sun’s decision through flashbacks to her brother’s very wrongdoings. From pleading with Sun to take the fall for his crimes, to killing their father who was going to turn him in, Sun’s brother is painted as a very clear-cut villain. The only thing bringing nuance to his character is his relation to Sun. At the climax of the chase, Sun decides not to kill her brother. The exploration of this theme of revenge seems to fall very flat in the end. There were a few throwaway flashbacks to Sun’s mother saying “Look after your brother” and her sensei telling her that she is “as gentle as a butterfly”, but overall the final decision was a simple “oh she did the right thing by not killing anyone”. The issue could easily have been expanded on by developing the character of Sun’s brother or by giving more serious consideration to killing him. It seemed cliche and inevitable that Sun would decide to spare her brother.

 

The episode takes a dramatic turn when Wolfgang is kidnapped by the Biological Preservation Organization. A violent torture scene reveals the identities of Kala and others in Wolfgang’s cluster. The sensates quickly hit back, avenging Wolfgang’s capture with a well executed kidnapping of Mr. Whispers and Jonas- prominent opposition figures. Here we continue to see the sensates pursue proactive revenge. Rather than kill the two, they kidnap them so that they can save Wolfgang and hopefully stop BPO.

 

The entire episode takes a very proactive view on revenge, where characters choose to fight for each other rather than kill out of anger.

The sensates attempt to persuade Sun not to kill her brother

AKA The Theme of Ladies Night

This is the first episode of Jessica Jones, entitled AKA Ladies Night. It is a good episode to talk about the argument of, because it kinda sets the standard for what the show is about and what the underlying message is throughout the first season. The episode is arguing for the consequences, both physical and psychological, of rape. It shows how one can become trapped in one’s own mind in a sense as well as the eventually the effect that the justice system has on victims. The premise of the episode is all about introductions. It introduces Jessica, Kilgrave, and Hope. In this episode Hope is raped by Kilgrave and later forced to murder her parents. She is overwhelmed by Kilgrave’s power and the legal system is of little help to her especially after such a traumatic event has damaged her psyche.

Hope under Kilgrave’s influence.

This episode argues its point by showing the lasting trauma that Jessica experiences from her encounters with Kilgrave as well as making non-tangible consequences, effects, and concepts of rape into physical things that one can view through the show.  Over the course of the show, Jessica and Hope as well as the many other victims of Kilgrave are shown to have to deal with the trauma inflicted upon them. They show the very real affects that such an event as having one’s own minds and bodies overpowered and/or raped can have on anyone of any class, race, or gender. This episode’s argument is carried throughout the rest of the show because that is the whole overarching idea that is presented through Kilgrave’s powers and Kilgrave’s morals. As far as the legal aspect that continues onwards throughout the season, the inability of the police or judicial system to deal with such a matter illustrates the occasional but common enough incompetence that arises through cases of rape while under the influence of another. This is a very real problem in today’s society and Jessica Jones does a rather good job in showing it.

Second Chances in Jessica Jones

Theme is very tricky in Jessica Jones. There is no underlining theme that applies to every episode or the whole series as a whole. However, there are certain episodes that have a theme that pushes the whole episode.

Today, I am going to analyze episode 8 of Jessica Jones. First of all, I need to give context about Kilgrave. He has the ability to command people with his voice, and he has used it to kill countless people and ruin countless lives. Jessica, the main protagonist, is living with Kilgrave, so he doesn’t kill any innocent people. In the middle of the episode, Jessica takes Kilgrave and makes him save two children from an abusive father. This makes Kilgrave and the entire audience think the theme is that “people deserve second chances”.

However, the show surprises the audience by having Jessica drug Kilgrave and lock him up at the end of the episode. This hits the audience hard and establishes the new theme of “doing good deeds doesn’t remove your past crimes”. All of the viewers thought that Jessica was going to teach Kilgrave to use his powers for good and be a superhero, but they shut that down very fast at the end.

Kilgrave trapped in cell

This theme helps relate to the show as a whole. It shows that no matter what good deeds Kilgrave does in the present, it doesn’t excuse all of his past murders and crimes. This also helps relate the show to modern law. You could save 1000 people after killing one person, but you would still go to jail for murder and be remembered as a murderer.

This creates a question about how are people redeemable. I believe some people should get second chances after doing a mistake. They should get the ability to redeem themselves and make good in the world. However, there is a certain point beyond return. People like Kilgrave, who have ruined and killed dozens of lives, do not deserve a second chance. It is hard to tell where the line should be drawn between a second chance and not, but some people deserve another chance to make the world a better place.

A Clear Indictment of the Prison System

The theme of Orange is the New Black is overwhelmingly obvious – the American justice system serves primarily to debilitate, not to rehabilitate. However, it is the portrayal of it, in showing the way that the prison appears to be helping but really is serving no beneficial purpose, that makes the message being portrayed a bit subtler.

The prison system serves only to punish and remove “undesirables” from society.

Listed in the prison’s budget are GED classes, fitness classes and healthcare. Yet, once money becomes a question, the administration cuts the GED classes and shuts down the track, limiting the “fitness classes” to a yoga class taught by an inmate. Counselors are on staff in name only, and they are anything but a friendly presence to their “patients”. Medical staff cut off Sophia’s (a transgender woman’s) hormones after they switch to more generic medications, putting her in a dangerous position both physically and mentally, and the doctors can only see inmates in cases of “emergencies”. These are all very clear examples of the prison attempting to look as if it cares for its inmates in case someone asks, but it turns out that they are wildly unprepared for the real world.

Although the prison has a law library that is accessible to inmates, very few understand the legal proceedings and even fewer yet can do something with that understanding. After the inmates learn that Piper is fairly literate, they all bring her their appeals that they have written for her to edit, since they cannot do it themselves, and she eventually exclaims in disgust that none of the women have a chance or “even understand how this system works”.

Throughout the show, multiple characters are released and then later return to prison, having had little way to survive. Tastee, a young, strong woman, tells her friends after being put back into prison that she had nobody, nothing and no way to get anything – at least in prison, she was fed and clothed. Although her friends get angry at her for sacrificing her freedom again, the argument is clear – after being in prison, the system casts its former inmates out in the real world to figure it out. Especially after long sentences, it is very likely that they are cut off from the world, their pre-prison life has moved on without them and they no longer have any idea how to make it. Their only option appears to be a life of crime again, which could either be profitable or put them back in jail, the only life that many habitual offenders have ever known.

By showing the prison’s agenda of pretending to care while showing the audience exactly how little they do, the writers of the show make it abundantly clear that they are indicting the prison system for failing to help the people it holds. Instead, it just collects individuals and profits off of them for as long as it can convince the public it is a good thing.

Facing your kryptonite-Theme of New Girl (Topic 4)

The overarching theme of New Girl is about the importance of friendship and being true to one’s self and desires. For this blog, I am going to be only looking at the episode Kryptonite’s theme. This episode focused on one’s ability to overcome ones “Kryptonite”. Jess is unable to face her ex-boyfriend who is the equivalent of a human toilet paper. The episode centers around the fact that Jess is too afraid to get her things from her ex-boyfriend house.

Side note: I seriously hated Spencer, and I know the show purposefully makes him dislikable, but I genuinely don’t see how someone could be deluded-or desperate- enough to date him.

However, Jess is unable to see the flaws of her ex-boyfriend -Spencer- and is constantly being pushed over by him. Her ex-boyfriend mercilessly takes advantage of her and her possessions, using her even after the break-up.
But when Jess sees that her Spencer ignored her request to water the plants, she finally snaps. She realizes that she has the right to her own belongings and that now she has friends that will support her. Jess realizes that Spencer cheating on her was really a blessing in disguise because otherwise, she would have probably married that sorry excuse for a person.

Jess gets her things back including her TV!

She had to muster up the self-respect and confidence to stand up to someone she once idolized and loved.

I felt this episode’s theme was probably one of the most important because this is Jess truly matures as a person. She starts off being too afraid to even drive to Spencer’s house and finally has the confidence to yell “Suck it, Mr. Crabs” to a man she was once hopelessly in love with. I think a theme in this episode is also the fact that sometimes negative events in our life may actually improve our lives in the long run. Cheating on Jess may have been the best thing Spencer ever did for her because it allowed her to move on from that toxic relationship.

Jess getting ready to approach Spencer

Quite honestly, I really liked how this episode expressed the importance of facing your past and moving on from it. I felt that this episode contributed to the overall theme of the show because, in order for Jess to confront Spencer, she first had to find her self-respect and self-worth, and realize that she deserved to be treated better.

Bringing the Dead “Back” To Life

As we continue on with the third episode of West World, we have come to find that the park is not only enveloping and immersing their customers, but it is also consuming the creators of the park with the possibility that a consciousness could evolve into the androids which exist in the park. Although the potential for the idea has been omnipresent throughout the series for some time now, it has been presented to us through the interaction of the two leaders of the park, Bernard and Dr.Ford. Dr.Ford reveals to Bernard that his co-creator of the park, Arnold, fantasized about bring the park to literal life, almost like a science experiment, instead of turning it into a capitalist moneymaking scheme.

In this episode, we see the power of Bernard’s expression of grief in plastering a human existence onto Dolores, an android in the park, in order to fill the hole left by the loss of his son. Through the mechanics implemented through memory,  humanistic mannerisms, and even improvised behaviors, the androids can come to life. This awakening, described by Dr.Ford, involves the pre-programmed thoughts of the androids to appear as an omnipotent presence in the mind of the machines, causing for them to believe that it belongs to a God-like figure. If we apply that concept to the future of artificial intelligence we have many ideas to unpack with such a notion.

Bernard having a secret talk with Dolores about his son and his plan to allow her to develop consciousness.

Considering such a predicament, we will have the independent evolution of a consciousnesses into machine assisted by man. While this theme is quite intriguing, I am far more fascinated in the similarity in which the once archaic lines of code will evolve around a similar concept that many, if not a majority of humankind, practices today with a belief in a more powerful figure such as a one or many God who bestows agency on each individual in mankind to sacrifice and do good for others. However, what the future of the episodes hold and the debate for us is whether or not something with the power and capability of artificial intelligence will be able to become a more evolved version of mankind, and if they are able to learn from their mistakes faster than humans and use their knowledge to manipulate us. On the other hand, we could live in a symbiotic society of coexistence where we use androids to supersede our human mortality.

More Than Just Criminals

I thought I was going to have to search really deep in order to find a central theme of a single Orange is the New Black episode, as episodes of the show often feature several plotlines that each try to advance a certain theme or narrative, something the show is able to do in its 55 minute format without seeming too scattered. In comes Episode 4 of Season 1, “Imaginary Enemies.” The episode, while still featuring multiple plotlines with only surface level overlap as far as characters go, relates these plotlines by using them to drive home an overarching theme.

Get it, drive home, because they lose a screwdriver in the episode haha I’m hilarious

This show does not want you to judge its characters before knowing their stories, their backgrounds, and their motivations first. Where this episode pushes this theme most blatantly is in this episode’s flashback storyline, which features Piper Chapman’s new roommate, Miss Claudette. Throughout previous episodes, Miss Claudette has been portrayed as mean without reason and overly controlling. The first two flashbacks explain why this is. We first see her as a young girl who, it can be assumed, is subject to indentured servitude as a way to pay off her parent’s debt. In the second flashback she is a grown woman whom we see has risen the ranks and now runs the cleaning service she worked for. She is shown in the second flashback being as stern with her young workers as her boss was to her in the first flashback. Her reason for asking discipline of others in prison is now understood; it is what she has known her whole life. Outside of flashbacks, the episode also shows that Miss Claudette is capable of sympathy, something that most in the prison thought impossible, after Piper stands up to her.

The episode also approaches this theme from another angle, dealing with some of the mental health issues that inmates deal with and how they often stay hidden. The lunchtime conversation that occurs between Piper and Nichols reveals that both of them are having a hard time coping with their conditions, and Piper even assume Nichols has found a way to deal with them, asking her when the depression ends, to which she responds “I’ll let you know.” Nichols also has a conversation with Alex, in which Alex breaks down and reveals that she too is experiencing depression.

This theme is tied in with the rest of show through the storyline involving the lost screwdriver, which shows that inmates are often dehumanized and thought of as nothing more than criminals. Caputo even explicitly emphasizes that the women in the prison are criminals during the search for the screwdriver as a way to ensure the guards do not show them sympathy. This is something the entire show combats: by following the lives of the women in this prison, we see how they are human and can be sympathized with.

Not all Heroes Wear Capes…Or Smiles: Exploration of a Common Theme in Jessica Jones

The last episode of the first season of Jessica Jones, titled “AKA Smile”, was quite a packed one, from Luke Cage’s revival from Jessica’s reluctant gunshot on him while he was under control of the mind-controlling Kilgrave to the astonishing death of Kilgrave from Jessica’s bare hands. This sudden death of who has been the show’s main antagonist raises several interesting points, from putting the plots of coming episodes in question as the show has suddenly lost a focal character, to the shift in general perceptions of the townspeople of Jessica. From the beginning of the season till the moment she snaps Kilgrave’s neck to his death, it could easily be seen how the general surrounding around Jessica, excluding those who have genuinely gotten to know her over time, such as her step-sister Trish, neighbor Malcolm, and “love” Luke Cage, viewed and treated her much like her own personality: sassily and rather harshly. Even the people supposedly representing the law who she had to testify her innocence to multiple times throughout the episodes, including those who questioned her following her “unlawful murder” of Kilgrave after him taking control over multiple people throughout his life and unlawfully murdering many of them, treated her similarly to her personality and her possession of superpowers rather than her actions. This show therefore presents Jessica Jones as an ideal example of someone who is constantly judged based on most any other factor than her actions and the overall benefit she is truly providing to the people around her and many more, and argues that though they do not contain superpowers like Jessica, there are many people in our society whose positive actions also go unnoticed since they are judged based on other less important factors.

In addition to her actions and physical powers, the show also presents multiple instances where Jessica displays immense mental strength, the most common one being her withstanding the trials, questions, and often going about unnoticed or even looked down upon. The last episode of the first season itself displays many of the other instances of her mental strength, such as the way she kept herself from breaking down consistently as she witnessed Luke Cage being transported to the ER after she shot him and as the nurses tried but failed to perform many medical procedures on his indestructible skin. But perhaps the strongest instance will have to be the moments before Jessica succeeded in her mission of Kilgrave’s death, which included her having to pretend to be under his control and listen to him as he falsely declares his love for her step-sister and promises to torture her until he thought she was actually under his control and let his guard down. In the end, the only people who actually witnessed Jessica’s actions and strengths, such as Trish in the scene above, over time grew to support her along the way, a recurring theme in the show that closely mirrors the real world.

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Jessica pretending to be under Kilgrave’s influence.

The Irrelevance of Age

In this episode I saw of Grace and Frankie, the theme deals with their age, and the irrelevance that accompanies it. We see various low-key examples of this theme. For example, we see how Frankie has difficulty hearing what Grace says, and how Grace truly cannot read without her glasses.

However, this episode contains some significant examples that deal with this theme. We see how Grace tries to get a job at the company she created, but later passed on to her daughter. The daughter tries to turn down Grace as politely as possible, but Grace can only realize how she has become “irrelevant”. The main blow is given when she realizes her face is no longer on the product, given that young women would not respond well to this packaging. Frankie has a different type of moment where she realized that people would discriminate her due to her age. She applies for a job at a nursing home, but due to her age she is received as someone that wants to live in the nursing home.

Here we see how Grace reacted when she found out her face had been removed from the product.

This episode exemplifies how our society often discriminates people, or sees them as irrelevant due to their age. We often forget that elderly people are still capable of doing great things, and that we should not discriminate them for some small qualities they lack due to their age.

Another theme that is dealt with in the episode is the one of a “blended” family. We can see how tensions run high between step-siblings, and between them and their new step-dad. It is fair to notice that the dinner party with the new “blended” family did not go as planned. We also see how Sol, thinks it would have been better to let more time pass before the first family dinner. This theme is also dealt with, when the fact that, the two dads cheated on their wives before acknowledging and admitting their true love, is discussed.

Here we see the awkward welcoming of the new step-daughter.

Flawed Prisons, Prejudiced Views

Episode 3 of Orange is the New Black’s first season explores a variety of themes ranging from transgender rights to a broken prison system.

A large portion of the episode focuses on the life of Sophia Burset, a transgender woman who stole credit cards to fund her sex-reassignment. Sophia is disrespected and mocked by many of the other inmates, who don’t consider to her to be a real woman. A lack of understanding of transgender people is also shown in the flashbacks with her firefighter colleagues and the store employee struggling to use proper pronouns This general lack of respect surprisingly

Sophia Burset

doesn’t stop one of the (presumably) heterosexual male guards from being attracted to her and trying to take advantage of her when the prison decides to give her smaller, generic doses of her hormone medication to cut costs. Sophia’s attempt to convince the prison staff to let her back on her medication by swallowing a bobblehead backfires when the doctor elects to completely take her off her medication, which is morally questionable at best.

 

Another key issue discussed in the episode revolves around the broken prison system in the United States, which has people who have committed minor crimes such as Piper in the same level of facility as international drug dealers like Alex. In multiple scenes the prison is suggested to be severely underfunded, as necessary 

Piper and Crazy Eyes

medications are hard for prisoners to come by, the prison management did not replace the freezer in the kitchen until it became inoperable, and the prison can not afford to keep basic exercise facilities for inmates open. It is also implied that the prison lacks proper mental health facilities and has a high proportion of inmates, including Crazy Eyes, suffering from mental health problems. Another issue for the prison is the unofficial segregation down racial lines in the prison and the racism displayed by some prisoners and prison staff.

 

These themes relate to the larger picture of the show by showing that some inmates have a much more difficult time in prison than others and the severe problem of prison overcrowding that harshly punishes minor offenders of the law and is a burden for the United States.

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