Into the Badlands (AMC): Introduction

 

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Into the Badlands is super important to the discussion of representation for interracial relationships, particularly interracial relationships between two non-white individuals…

-The Nerds of Color (NOC) blog

I first “heard” about this show a few days ago from one of the ladies I follow on Twitter (Monique). And it turns out that she’s NOT the only fan out there! MANY black women, as well as Asian- American men, were tweeting about Into the Badlands. After all, it’s quite rare to see a Chinese-American man, Sunny (Daniel Wu) and a black woman, Veil (Madeleine Mantock) in a romantic relationship. 

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Aramis Knight as M.K. – Into the Badlands _ Season 1, Epsiode 1 – Photo Credit: Patti Perret/AMC

Hmmm… HOW to describe this show to a newbie? It’s (obviously) a martial arts epic, BUT there are elements of the Western (minus the guns), Southern Gothic (it’s shot on location in Louisiana), mythical (based loosely on a Chinese story: Journey To The West), and superhero genres (see M.K. ‘s secret powers) also. In some ways, it’s like our (modern) world, yet there are no guns used (BUT plenty of knives, swords, and other sharp objects). Warning: This is NOT for those of you who are scared of (fake) blood and violence (which almost reaches Game of Thrones levels). 

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The Fort is the domain of Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas).

Badlands is that society where society has kind of gone back to feudal times, and one of the main ideas was this “steampunk” aesthetic, to make things futuristic yet seem old at the same time since in this world, digital technology is all gone…  Daniel Wu

If you liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (like me), then you should definitely give it a watch!  I esp. like the wire work, which elevates the martial arts to another level (NOT that I’m an expert, of course). I’ve seen some eps of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and Vanishing Son (which starred Chines/Swedish-American actor Russell Wong). M.K. (Aramis Knight- a teen actor w/ Pakistani and German heritage) is one of the Colts, or Clippers (warriors) in training. The actor didn’t have martial arts training before he got hired on the show, but had played sports and stayed at a low level of body fat. After I read up a BIT re: Knight’s background, I thought: Hell yes, this show has TWO Asian-American leads!  

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Quinn’s main house (Evergreen Plantation of Django Unchained)

The dialogue on this show (so far- I’ve seen 3 eps) is NOT George Lucas Star Wars prequel-level bad, though it’s far from Shakespearean (as we find in Deadwood). Some of the BEST lines are given to the main villain, Quinn (Marton Csokas from Lord of the Rings), who is BOTH a father-figure and a boss to Sunny (who is The Regent, the head of the Clipper force). Yes, this show is VERY immersive- it’s even got it’s own vocabulary! You can watch Season 1 on Netflix or on YouTube (which includes behind the scenes videos). 

 

 

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Orange is the New Black (Season 4)

NOTE: This post contains SPOILERS for the latest season of the Netflix original series.

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The promo poster for Season 4

What Piper does is try on identities. -Taylor Schilling 

In Season 3, Piper (sometimes dubbed “a clueless white girl”) was using the Whispers work assignment to her advantage; she got a big ego (as we see at the start of THIS season). Well, Maria is NOT going to put up w/ that attitude! Also, the Dominican (who was disowned by her gang leader dad for falling in love w/ a Mexican man) has plans of her own to profit HER girls, the latinas. The numbers work in her advantage, as the prison (now managed by MCC, a private corp.) gets an addition of MOSTLY latina women. 

It’s all grounded in the reality that they DO love each other… -Laura Prepon (Alex) on the (love-hate; complicated; manipulative) relationship between her character and Piper

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Maria (who starts running drugs) gets in Piper’s face in the Season premiere.
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The latinas hold down Piper before Maria brands her with a swastika.

What did YOU think of Piper’s comeuppance (for joining w/ the White Power women)? Yes, she needed allies, BUT (as she often does) Piper didn’t realize the consequences of such an (unholy) alliance! 

When you know something [drug addiction] firsthand, there’s a sort of responsibility, which (for me) can often feel like… you know… too much pressure. -Natasha Lyonne (Nicky)

The relationship between Red and Nicky has been fraught w/ tension b/c of Nicky’s reluctance to get (and stay) sober. As we know from real-life statistics, MANY women (and men) are in jail b/c of drug-related issues; others get into drugs while imprisoned. 

I have my “daughters.” That is my way of surviving w/ my morality- and what I hope to consider- my integrity- intact. The tough side is, there’s a line. If you cross it, you are out. And that costs me as much as it costs them, but there has to be a moral compass. And I adhere to it very strongly. -Kate Mulgrew on the maternal and tough sides of her character (Red)

Red has been one of my favorites from the start; she doesn’t have much to do until later in the season. She’s back in charge of the kitchen- good to see. Mr. Healy seems to have fallen in love w/ her (yeah, we saw that coming); she sternly tells him that “no relationship between a prisoner and a guard is consensual”).

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Pennsatucky/Doggett and Big Boo have one of the most interesting friendships on the show.

Season four has some of the most explicit and complex discussions of consent I’ve ever seen on television. And in a time when there is still so much confusion surrounding consent and anger when it’s violated.

It’s significant that OITNB doesn’t just show Pennsatucky’s reaction to her rape. Instead, it forces Coates to reconsider everything he thought was true, to confront the ugliness inside him and surrounding him that pushed him to a place where he could ignore a woman’s needs for his own basic pleasure. He didn’t think he was raping her, but that doesn’t matter.

And now he knows it.

-Caroline Famke, Vox 

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Lolly and Alex in the greenhouse
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Lolly and Mr. Healy have a talk in the yard.

We see what Alex is capable of when she kills the man (disguised as a new guard) in the greenhouse. Lolly (who becomes more and more unhinged in S4) and Frida (a convicted murderer) knows about this crime; they handle it in VERY different ways. Frida helps Alex bury the dead body in the garden. Alex has trouble sleeping, goes to hang out w/ Piper, and (in time)- they are a couple again. 

Mr. Healy tries to help Lolly, who starts spouting paranoid stories. We learn more re: his backstory; his mother had mental problems when he was a young boy, then was put in a psychiatric hospital. THAT gets to the root of WHY Mr. Healy want to help troubled women. He falls short (of course)!

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Three of the new guards: Dixon, Humphrey, and Capt. Pescatella
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Bayley and his high school friend in jail (flashback)- talk about white privilege.

The new guards (former war vets) are NOT only working at Litchfield, they’re also living in the (built by prison labor) cabins on the property. They have issues and secrets of their own! Humphrey  forced Maritza, at gunpoint, to swallow a live baby mouse and pushed Crazy Eyes/Suzanne into a bloody brawl with Kukudio.

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Poussey (RIP) assists Judy King, her TV idol, during a cooking class.

When I heard that Judy was a cooking show celebrity and she was going to prison for some financial mischief, you think of Martha Stewart right away. [In the book on which it’s based, author Piper Kerman said Stewart was almost sent to Danbury, the inspiration for Litchfield.] She’s Paula Deen-like, because she’s Southern, but Judy King is another entity altogether. It’s just that those two are the ones that spring to mind.” -Blair Brown, Hollywood Reporter

We see how Judy King (veteran actress Blair Brown) is treated better, given her own room, etc. (being a rich and powerful celeb). I esp. liked her friendships w/ Poussey and Cindy. Do YOU think that these were real friendships? 

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Alison (a Muslim) and Cindy (a Jew) are roommates.

Alison (who is Cindy’s bunk mate) wears a hijab (black scarf in this case) as a sign of modesty, due to her being Muslim. She also uses her hijab to hide a cell, which she uses to secretly communicate with her child via text. Cindy (a convert to Judaism) is suspicious of Alison at first, BUT in time, they get to know each other and become allies.

Speaking of unlikely allies… Figueroa dropped a sly bomb on Caputo when she asked him if he knew re: more inmates coming to his prison when he visited her house. Caputo, my the middle of the season, knows that his girlfriend (Linda) does NOT want the best for his inmates. Were YOU a bit shocked to learn that Linda had NEVER even visited Litchfield (though she worked for MCC)? 

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Daya points a gun at Humphrey while the other inmates look on (some cheering).

It’s war. Taystee has nothing to lose; she’s lost everything that she cared so deeply about. It’s time to fight. I think that’s where we will see Taystee go. -Danielle Brooks on what she sees next for her character

The season four finale of Netflix’s prison dramedy OITNB capped a season that explored the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustice that exists in the prison system. 

The final moments of the season see Daya picking up CO Humphrey’s loose gun and aiming it back at him during a prison-wide riot, Attica-style. …After being abandoned by fiance Bennett, losing her daughter and seeing her mom released from prison, Daya has so much pent-up anger and frustration, she might just shoot.  -Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter

Short/petite Poussey is killed by baby-faced guard, Bayley- VERY unexpected/shocking scene! Taystee, who was probably her closest friend, is heartbroken. Soso tries to drink away some of her sadness. Judy King has the star power to right at least some of the wrongs she witnessed in prison. Will she tell the truth about Poussey’s murder?

 

Shots Fired (FOX): Starting March 22, 8PM EST

This 10-part series examines the aftermath of racially charged shootings in a small North Carolina town. It was produced by the successful/critically-acclaimed husband-wife team of Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball) and Reggie Rock Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, Notorious). Aside from the timely/controversial topic, the supporting cast could be a big draw (incl. Oscar winners Richard Dreyfuss and Helen Hunt, as well as Law and Order‘s Jill Hennessey). The leads are two black actors- film veteran Sanaa Lathan (who plays investigator Ashe Akino) and up-and-comer Stephan James (federal prosecutor Preston Terry). James hails from Canada and notably played the young John Lewis in Selma. 

First Look: A Murder Myster (FOX)

 

Actors Sanaa Lathan and Mack Wilds on The View (ABC)