Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Fosters vs. Orange is the New Black

I'm watching both thanks to the luxuries of cheap cable and a Netflix subscription.  If you haven't heard, the moms on the The Fosters are lesbians raising a multiracial, bio, adoptive, and foster family.  For a cop and a charter school principal they live in a really nice house.  There's plenty of scandal, but no more than on 7th HeavenThe Fosters is like a nice, pretty girl your mom sets you up with.  She's got a car and a nice place, but she just can't make you feel anything.

And then, there's Orange is the New Black.  I've cringed through a good portion of this show, mostly because the caricatures of race and class, not because of the sex (even that one scene).  Also I really want to brush Natasha Lyonne's hair (in a non-sexual way).  But, this show is the girl with trashy blown-out tattoos, who doesn't have her shit together, who you find strangely irresistible.  It really does show the fluid and complicated nature of sexuality (here I considered musing about the parallels between women's colleges and women's prisons, but decided against it) , and it makes you care about the characters (Tasha! Poussey! Burset!  Diaz! and, of course, Alex's voice, which in itself is a major reason to watch the show).

On one internet board I read, someone commented that she'd never thought about what prison was like before watching OITNB.  I suspect the show should not be confused with something called reality, but if it makes people pay attention to mass incarceration, that's not a bad thing.  Maybe prison shows will be the new house flipping or cupcakes, and then, when we dismantle the carceral state we can move on to something else (reality shows about North Korea, and non-sad shows with cute animals are at the top of my list).

In my unofficial survey of lesbian I know (many of whom are also moms), people who know about The Fosters are glad it's on (but what they really want is gay families on PBS Kids), and some are watching it, but everyone is watching Orange is the New Black, and then watching it again.


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