‘House Of Cards’ And ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Progress To Differing Second Seasons

Orange Is The New Black

Fundamentally, House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black don’t have much in common. Besides the fact that they’re both the stalwart first drama series for Netflix and have gained some critical notoriety in some aspects, although one more so and deserving of the other. The first seasons of both shows left me pretty neutral, I wrote before on House Of Cards and how it didn’t really provide anything we haven’t seen done expertly better in other dramas. With Orange Is The New Black I enjoyed it much more than “Cards” because it offered something new and provided a new perspective on what we expect from these sorts of dramas.

For me House Of Cards was really just a continuation one everything the first season did so mediocrely. Just a continuation of Frank Underwood getting his way, and slowly but surely seeing all his plans come together until he’s to become president. It’s comfort food drama at it’s best, hitting all the same beats you would expect. A surprise death or two, the lead character in a seemingly unescapable predicament that he finds his way out of, last minute twists, betrayals and all that. Which is all fine and good, but it just doesn’t seem to care about trying something new, knowing full well that staying in this path is just fine for what they want to accomplish. The performances are good and help cover up the lacking other parts of the show.

Orange Is The New Black on the other hand operates on a multitude of levels that help develop and push the show in different directions. The show is mainly quarantined just within the prison, but it really causes no problems in thinking of inventive storylines and happenings. Along with this they expertly focus on one character an episode and flashing back to how they found themselves in prison, allowing a break from the prison locals and letting us out into the world. The strength of the show is no doubt in the colourful character of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds and motives, creating odd relationships and different combinations to play off of.

House Of Cards was the perfect launch show for Netflix, had a bankable star, an engaging enough premise and a broad reach for who’d enjoy it, guaranteeing it at least moderate success at the commercial level. Orange Is The New Black came along and pushed things a little further, being a bit of an unsafe choice, one that doesn’t follow all the rules and allows for some freedom coming on the tails of the brand maker of House Of Cards. The second seasons of both shows cemented these differing statuses for each, and for good or bad, we get a look at what’s to come for the foreseeable few years as these show top a new era in TV popularity.

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My 12 Favourite TV Shows Of 2013

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So, these are my favourite shows of 2013. I’m not really going to call them the “best shows of 2013,” because that’s subjective and my mind is always changing, but these are the ones I enjoyed the most. And, yeah, don’t put too much stock in how I ranked them, because I have no clue, I like them all, and my opinion of them is always shifting and jockeying. In fact, I just thought of a new order to put them in…..

1. Enlightened

A simply beautiful show that masterfully handles comedy and drama better than either full-fledged dramas or comedies can. Elements of short stories and a long form narrative give the show everything it needs to be successful on a plot level. Laura Dern, Mike White, and Luke Wilson among others are perfect in their roles and inhibit areas of sadness that make their characters feel so, so real. I’m crushed it won’t get a third season, but I’m happy with what we got.

2. Breaking Bad

Not as high on it as a lot of people, but I still greatly enjoyed the ride. That’s the keyword, “ride.” I don’t think the show is particularly all that great, or even close to the best show of all time, but it was damn fun, suspenseful and entertaining that actually got me counting down until the next episode aired.

3. The Americans

The best new show of the year, a spy drama in the 80s. Faced under Cold War pre-texts a married Russian spy couple goes undercover in the States. Not only is it a action drama in that sense, but it also gets great depth out of it’s portrayal of a forced together and crumbling marriage and how to deal with these emotions in the face of geo-politics.

4. Orange Is The New Black

Even better than I anticipated after all of the hype. Mainly focalized in a women’s prison, it allowed the show to work through a formed structure and keep the action clicking along under one roof. Very funny and dark, and mixes these two elements perfectly.

5. The Good Wife

Has always been good, but season five has pushed things to a new level. After Alicia and co. have moved on from Lockhart/Gardner they face all sorts of new problems dealing with their own firm, and the fall out from where the once came. The best show on network TV, a procedural, but bucks all preconceived notions that come with that title, keeping it fresh every episode.

6. Hannibal

The most surprising show that not only turned out to be good, but was often great in spots. One of the few shows to have actual imagery that was frightening and rivaling most current horror movies. Hugh Dancy is utterly perfect as Will Graham, a frayed and conflicted Special Agent who gets unraveled to his last piece of yarn. Mads Mikkelsen is equally chilling as Hannibal, driving the suspense to a constant peak. I’m not sure what season two will bring, a lot of shit went down at the end of the first, but I’m just glad we’re getting some more of the show.

7. Justified

Consistently one of the best shows on TV. Olyphant continues to own the role, really like he was born to play it, and just oozes cool at every step. They always tell a compelling, intertwining and smart story with enough action and twists and turns to keep you guessing. The odd stand-alone episode only further cements how great this show is, and how in control of its motives it truly is.

8. Masters Of Sex

Was very unsure and luke-warm to the show at first, but progressively grew on me as the episodes wore on. As the sex studies experiments became more in-depth and real so did the relationships that it accidentally affected and changed for the better or worse. Michael Sheen is great as the withdrawn and calculated Masters, while Lizzy Caplan puts in excellent work as the driven assistant who becomes much more than that.

9. Mad Men

A down year of the show in my eyes, not that it wasn’t any good, but to the standards I hold this show (one of my favourites of all time), it wasn’t what I had hoped.

10. Game Of Thrones

I really like this show, but sometimes it becomes a slog for me becuase I really can’t stand fantasy. That being said, there were some fantastic episodes, of course “The Rains Of Castamere,” and there’s usually always some crazy shit going down or about to go down, with seemingly nobody safe.

11. Treme

I like this show a lot more than most, but I see why others don’t like it. Yeah, it comes off boring and not much plot propulsion, but it really is just about the characters, the city and the atmosphere of these intertwining people and the short stories trying to recover in their own way from disaster.

12. Homeland

Yeah, I was pretty disappointed with season three, and it turned me off of a lot of the show, but goddamn if I still like watching and see what ridiculous well they go to next. It’s an entirely different show from when it started out, and I never really know what they’re going to do next. That’s pretty much it, I look forward to watching the show still, and they continue to somehow keep roping me back in.