Thursday, June 25, 2015

Crazy Eyes

Oprah July 2015
Last summer, my niece flew into town to attend Spring Awakening, the 3-day EDM festival. She had graduated from high school, and her gift was to spend the weekend with my sister and I. Fortunately, my niece is what is known as 'chill,' and she didn't need to be in the thick of a pounding bass line for every second that the festival was open. She had other things to do ... get a pedicure, eat, take a nap, eat, oh! And watch the second season of Orange is the New Black.

I had seen the listing on Netflix, but I just couldn't see watching a show about women in prison. It didn't seem appealing, but my niece insisted that I would love it, and she was willing to go through Season 1 to get to
Season 2 so that I could see the whole series. And with that first episode, I was hooked.

This year, we had the same diabolical plan to Orange it by day for the newly released Season 3 and EDM it by night. Unfortunately, her school schedule got in the way, and we had to resort to 'fan texting' through some of the episodes. As a college student, even though she had a test to study for, she managed to rip through Season 3 in 2-days. Me? It took a week.

 A lot has been written about Orange, so I won't bother with the usual exploration of the fact that a show is almost exclusively about women and that it has given actresses, who would normally never work on a major television or movie project, the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. I will only say, simply, that it is a great story and the characters are ones that are either deplorable (Piper ... the main character ... I hate her) or so faceted that they are endearing and able to break the heart.

Crazy Eyes is my girl (the actress above). In Season 3, she really came into her own moving beyond the crazy and into the vulnerable and sweet, which she is. If you don't watch the series, Crazy Eyes is socially the equivalent of, maybe, a fifth grader. One of the great things about Orange are the flashbacks that take us to the story of how the character became who she is today. I don't know if I've seen enough of Susan's, aka Crazy Eyes, past to really understand her, but she's obviously broken and desperately in need of love and attention. And she ain't no dummy. In these episodes, she's taken the drama class seriously and when tasked to write a scene, she comes up with a sexual/time traveling/something or another epic that her fellow inmates immediately subscribe to. She's the hapless creator of a prison Fifty Shades of Grey ... and it is revealed that all of the naughtiness has been conjured up in her mind as  she is the innocent that dwells behind her sometimes volatile nature.

In some respects, not many, I understand where ole Crazy Eyes is coming from. In the last season, a bad women comes into the prison, who immediately begins work on Crazy to make her an accomplice. She does so by paying attention to her, making her feel valuable. Naturally, her intentions are not on the up and up, and she will use Susan to do her dastardly deeds. And even after the dust has settled, Susan defends her because she appealed to the part of her that no one else does. It's her vulnerability that allows for this to happen. Though I'm not about to cause bodily harm to someone else or take the fall for another, I understand how Crazy Eyes felt connected to her manipulator, and how it is so hard to believe that that she didn't have the best intention when she trusts everyone to have that.

Uzo Adubo, the actress who plays Crazy Eyes, is marvelous. How she climbs into a character that is not only mentally a cacophony of movement and chaos, but physically has all of the quirks of someone who isn't quite sure that she is alive in this world. Like a baby, her body moves without will or control, except the body is that of a full-grown woman. It really is something to watch. And when, in the last scene of Season 3, she disappears and then is found, the expression on her face is one of someone who doesn't understand how the world is meant to tear you down, not fill you with joy. It's something to consider.

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