I’m a dedicated Longmire fan. I’ve previously mentioned several reasons why.
Filmed in beautiful New Mexico
Katee Sackhoff is in it
Native American culture is treated with respect
Very interesting complicated characters
After watching season 4 of Longmire on Netflix, I have another reason for loving the show.
Let’s back up a bit. Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is the sheriff of a mythical county in Wyoming where there is a new murder to investigate in almost every episode. In a long story arc starting in season 1 and stretching all the way into season 4 Walt is coming to terms with his wife’s murder. He tries to find her murderer. His best friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) is accused of killing the man who murdered Walt’s wife. It takes time to prove Henry innocent. They have to find the real killer. That someone was tied to people in his county. He tries to find who gave the orders. Who had his wife killed and who killed her murderer?
In season 4, episode 3 we finally get the answer to that question. It isn’t the answer anyone expected. At last, Walt gets the closure he’s needed. It’s a brilliant episode. Tense, beautifully shot, amazing acting. It reminded me of the scene in The Fall where Stella interrogates Paul Specter.
Walt, finally, is at a place where he can let go of his wife and his desire for revenge. He might be open to letting a woman into his life again.
Deputy Vic Moretti (Sackhoff) has visions of it being Walt’s new woman. Walt is not of the same mind. She is his deputy. Full stop.
That’s about the time Walt meets the gorgeous Dr. Donna Sue Monahan (Ally Walker). She’s an overworked psychiatrist who works with PTSD cases and victims of trauma.
Walt is smitten. She’s reluctant. She’s busy. He’s busy. It takes them a while to figure it out.
I’m very interested in the feminist issue of age appropriate relationships in the movies and on TV. Older men with younger women seems to be the norm. But not on Longmire. Robert Taylor and Ally Walker are both over 50. Katee Sackhoff is 35.
Reason number 5 to love Longmire: he picks the woman his own age to court. Go, Walt!
Walt and Donna are in each others arms in the last few seconds of episode 10 for the big season 4 cliffhanger, so I’m hoping Ally Walker will be back if there is a season 5. I enjoyed her character in season 4 and she would be good for the story. My fingers are crossed.
An arty and mysterious video for Marvel’s Jessica Jones was released by Netflix. It announces the premier date for the series: November 20, 2015. The first season contains 13 episodes.
The series synopsis is “Ever since her short-lived stint as a Super Hero ended in tragedy, Jessica Jones has been rebuilding her personal life and career as a hot-tempered, sardonic private detective in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Plagued by self-loathing, and a wicked case of PTSD, Jessica battles demons from within and without, using her extraordinary abilities as an unlikely champion for those in need… especially if they’re willing to cut her a check.”
Krysten Ritter will play Jessica Jones. In all 13 episodes with her will be David Tennant, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eka Darville, and Erin Moriarty.
Mississippi Damned is an examination of what keeps people trapped in a cycle of poverty and abuse, and how some of them manage to escape.
If you watched the excellent documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? you know that Nina Simone wanted to be a concert pianist. And you probably already knew that Nina Simone wrote the song “Mississippi Goddam” which inspired the title of this movie. The most accessible character in the film, the one we root for the most, is young Kari Peterson. She’s played as a young adult by Tessa Thompson and as a child by Kylee Russell. Like Nina Simone, Kari wants to go to college to develop her talent as a pianist and composer.
Longmire was dropped by its old network after 3 seasons and was picked up amid a great fan outburst by Netflix. Season 4 will be starting on Netflix on September 10. In the meantime, you can watch all of the first 3 seasons on Netflix. To quote Longmire, “It’s not that you come back, it’s how you come back that matters.” This comeback was 100% fan driven.
I know Longmire isn’t the type of show I usually promote here. But it is filmed near me and I started watching to see if I could recognize any of the locations. It’s gorgeous scenery – supposedly set in Wyoming but actually filmed near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
And there is the fact that I like Katee Sackhoff, so I was watching to see her. However, it took almost no time before I was hooked on all the characters and their stories.
Robert Taylor is Sheriff Longmire. His deputies are played by Katee Sackhoff as Vic, Bailey Chase as Branch and Adam Bartley as The Ferg. Lou Diamond Phillips is Henry Standing Bear, one of many Native American characters in the show. If you’ve ever read anything by Tony Hillerman, you know how his books treated Native American culture. The mostly Cheyenne people and culture in Longmire are treated with the same kind of respect.
Other cast includes Cassidy Freeman, Louanne Stephens, Gerald McRaney and Ally Walker.
None of the characters are wholly pure, all have demons of their own, including the main characters in the sheriff’s department of this small town. It makes for great story arcs that go on for many episodes. Which is all the more reason to go back and catch up on seasons 1–3 before you start season 4.
One of the multi-episode stories involves the murder of Longmire’s wife, which is what I think the scene in the preview below relates to.
The following teaser is for season 4. You see glimpses of many characters and some of the beautiful Western scenery.
If you’ve never watched Longmire, give it a try. And if you are already a fan of this complex character-driven drama, come celebrate with me on September 10 when we can start watching the 10 new episodes of season 4.
Catastrophe is an Amazon original series. The first 6 episodes are available now on Amazon Prime.
Rob (Rob Delaney), an American, and Sharon (Sharon Horgan), an Irish teacher working in London, meet in a pub. They have sex as often as possible while Rob is in London. Then he goes home, only to be called back by a catastrophe – she’s pregnant.
A very popular post on this blog is about the Danish show Rita, which is a hit on Netflix. Mille Dinesen is the star of Rita. I thought readers would appreciate learning more about her, seeing some photos and some video, and finding out how to keep track of her.
She was born in 1974, which makes her 41 years old. She’s only been acting for the last 10 years or so, if IMDB is reliable. (It generally is skimpy for European actors, but it’s all the info we’ve got.) Before she stepped in front of the camera, she was a production assistant. She completed her acting training at State Theatre School in 2004. Her first credit is for the Danish Bridget Jones, Nynne, which turned out to be a huge success and made her very well known in Denmark.
She’s been consistently busy since that beginning. She’s done a TV series on Nynne, several movies and was in a few episodes of a favorite of mine, Borgen, as Birgitte Nyborg’s ex husband’s new girlfriend.
The translations of Danish articles by Google from Danish to English are almost unintelligible, so it’s a bit hard to tell much about her personal life. I managed to figure out that she’s interested in her health and in eating right. For a time, she was not very well, and she strives to maintain good health now.
She lives in Copenhagen, near where she was born and near her family. She was married, but is now single. She told one interviewer, “I could not have made ‘Rita’ if I had had so much as a hamster to take care of.” She commented that she’d been on Nynne for so long she was typecast as that. She’s very happy that her character on Rita is so different. In this interview, she described Rita as being politically incorrect with a masculine energy.
I’m hoping for a 4th season of Rita, but I’m also hoping that whatever Mille Dinesen does next will be brought to American audiences.
Christian Torpe is the creator and writer for the Danish series Rita, which is available in the U.S. on Netflix. In this exclusive interview, Torpe answered some questions about Rita and his work.
Torpe was nominated for “International Producer of the year” and “European producer of the year” at the Monte Carlo Television Festival for the breakthrough hit Rita, which began airing in Denmark in 2012. Before Rita, he wrote for the Danish shows Park Road and Maj & Charlie. He wrote the movies Får and Almost Perfect. The series Rita now has a mini-series spin off called Hjørdis.
The lead actress in Rita was nominated for and won best actress awards for her work in the series.
OAD: Congratulations on Rita. It’s a big hit on Netflix here in the US. I think the main thing on everyone’s mind is will there be a season 4 of Rita? The ending of season 3 could be either a cliffhanger or a finale. I’m hoping it’s a cliffhanger!
CT: What I like about the last episode of season 3 is that it can be both – unlike season 1 and 2 that felt less like an actual ending. When I wrote it, I had no idea if we would do a season 4 (and I still don’t), so I wanted to at least convey the feeling that while it may not be an ending it’s at least the end of a chapter in Rita’s life. If Netflix wants more, then I’m happy to open a new chapter!
OAD: Rita is a fabulous character. Did she come from someone you know in real life or did you simply dream her up? She has so many flaws, but she’s absolutely lovable. How do you see Rita?
CT: There’s a lot of anger in her. Anger is a drug, it prevents you from feeling anything else, which can be handy if you carry a lot of pain, like Rita does. She’s deeply flawed, especially as a parent, but she does the best she can, and that’s really all you can ask of a human being. I guess there’s a lot of myself in her. Hiding behind sarcasm is something I relate to a little too well and she basically says all the things I’m afraid to say out loud.
OAD: Mille Dinesen is so perfect in the role of Rita. How did you pick her for the part?
CT: I wish I could take credit for that, but that’s all on our director, Lars Kaalund – and on Mille of course. We had so many Danish actresses read and Lars kept suggesting Mille. I was reluctant to see her – I knew she was a brilliant actress, but she had just played the Danish Bridget Jones, and I just couldn’t imagine her making the shift from sweet and clumsy to angry and self destructive. Finally she came in and read – and as Lars had known the entire time, she was perfect.
OAD: The other characters on Rita are also wonderful in their parts. Do you have any particular characters you found especially important or really liked? I thought Ellen Hillingsø as Helle was especially compelling.
CT: Ellen is such a great actress and I love writing her character, Helle. Helle is annoying even when she is right – which she often is – and that energy brings out the best/worst in Rita. I have a soft spot for Jeppe as well. I am gay and always wanted to write a gay character where his sexuality was not a problem or a concern or something that made him a victim, but just a backdrop to do a coming of age story.
OAD: I enjoyed Jeppe’s story very much! He was well played by Nikolaj Groth. The character Hjørdis got a spin off mini-series of her own. It will continue with Lise Baastrup as Hjørdis, but no Mille Dinesen as Rita. Tell us about this mini-series called Hjørdis.
CT: It’s a 4 episode special focusing on Hjordis and a group of students who are all misfits in some way, kinda like Hjordis herself. The show is like the Hjordis character: warmer, cuter and more kid-friendly than Rita, something you could watch from age 7 or 8. For me it was such a big challenge doing something without sarcasm, something that was just fun and uplifting, but I love the result and Lise is wonderful in it.
OAD: I know Netflix supported you for season 3 of Rita. Is there anything we Americans can do to encourage Netflix to support a 4th season of Rita? Do you know yet if Hjørdis will be on American Netflix? [Note: Hjordis is now available on Netflix.]
CT: You can write them and tell them you want more! If you succeed, beer is on me. Hjørdis will be on Netflix at some point, not sure when though.
OAD: Both these series are set in a Danish school. Do you have a particular interest in schools as a source of stories? Were you trying to say something about Danish schools with the series Rita, or were you more interested in the characters? Some of the themes you included brought up issues about homosexuals, immigrants, family relationships, women’s health, politics, drugs and more. With Rita as the perpetual iconoclast in the school, you made many important points through her.
CT: For me, it started with the character. As I developed Rita, I fell in love with the idea of a grown woman who was basically still a child. Once I had her, I started looking for an arena where the themes that are present in her – childhood, upbringing, authority, identity – would resonate, and the school was a perfect fit. Then I started looking for school stories and themes I wanted to explore through that arena, but it started with the character.
OAD: You’ve been writing for Danish TV since 2002. With Rita and Hjørdis, you’ve been executive producer as well as writer. Writing is your first love. Are you looking to expand your options in the future? I saw in one of your tweets that acting is definitely out for you.
CT: I’m a firm believer that it takes about 10 years of hard work to master any craft and I have too much respect for the craft that goes into acting or directing to venture into that. Also, acting is up there with flying and sharks and flying sharks when it comes to my biggest fears. Writing is what I love, but when it comes to that, I am curious by nature and want to try out different genres and formats. I did a movie last year with Bille August in a totally different genre and loved it, and I am currently writing a couple of pilots for some US cable networks, which is a lot of fun.
OAD: Ah, best of luck with that. It would be wonderful to see you work directly for the American audience. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Is there anything else you’d like to mention about Rita?
CT: Thanks for watching! And hmm. No, nothing except that I am thrilled that Rita resonates with audiences in the US as well! When we did the first season we were sure it was a distinctly local show, from the Danish school system to Rita’s sense of humor, her sarcasm, her sexuality, her sometimes offensive nature – all things we thought we handled in a very Danish way. It’s been so much fun to see that what we thought was Danish was in fact universal.
Season 3 of Orange is the New Black returns again and again to several themes. My big 3 are the difficulties of maintaining a family while in prison, the need for some sort of spiritual hope, and the need for love.
If you haven’t watched all of season 3 yet, there are spoilers ahead.
Parents in Prison
Pregnant prisoner Dayanara Diaz (Dascha Polanco) struggled for most of the season with what to do with her baby. Her mother Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is in prison, too. Aleida is a terrible parent – the worst! – but she tries to guide Daya to a good decision.
Daya hopes the baby’s father, Correctional Officer John Bennett (Matt McGorry), will step up and take the baby, but Bennett isn’t up to the challenge.
Daya reported another Correctional Officer, the horrible “Pornstache” (Pablo Schreiber) as the rapist who got her pregnant. Now she’s living with the lie.
Pornstache’s mother Delia (Mary Steenburgen) wants to adopt the child. Alida loves this idea because it means money. Even after Daya tells Delia the truth about whose baby it is, Delia wants it. Daya wobbles back and forth between wanting to give her baby to Delia and wanting to keep it in the family. The decision she finally makes feels right, but ends in disaster.
In other story lines about families, the character Maria (Jessica Pimentel) is dealt a painful parenting blow from her little girl’s father. Gloria (Selenis Leyva) struggles to keep her teen on the straight and narrow. Sophia (Laverne Cox) has some especially hard parenting problems.
The fact is, most women in prison have children, over half of them under the age of 18. Because of changes in sentencing laws during the war on drugs, the number of parents of minor children in prison increased by 79% between 1991 and 2007. Orange is the New Black can’t take us through story lines about the long term effects of so many mothers being locked away, so many broken families, but the series does its best to bring the problem to the front.
Think about Big Boo’s (Lea DeLaria) comments on the book Freakonomics about the number of unwanted children being reduced by Roe vs. Wade resulting in fewer neglected and abused children turning to crime 20 years later. Flip that on its head and ask yourself what the result of harsh drug sentencing laws that sent thousands of mothers to prison for minor drug crimes will be in 20 years.
Faith & Religion
Norma (Annie Golden) is at the center of one of the crazy rumor-driven stories in the prison. Some of the prisoners decide she is holy. Since she doesn’t speak, she simply smiles and pats them on the shoulder when they suggest this. They think she’s blessing them, and eventually she starts enjoying the attention and begins to act like the guru she followed as a younger woman. Everyone wants something to hang on to, some spiritual hope, and Norma is it for the moment.
A second plot line around religion involves the discovery that if you ask for a kosher meal, you get better food. Many of the inmates start asking for kosher food. Black Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) wants to learn enough about being Jewish to pass the test when they ask her why she should be eating kosher.
Cindy starts off on her Jewish experience watching Woody Allen movies but soon turns to an actual study of the faith. By the last episode, she has been accepted as Jewish by other Jews and even experiences a mikveh, or total immersion in water, as a symbol of her new identity as a Jew.
The Need for Love
Was it love that made Piper (Taylor Schilling) rat on Alex (Laura Prepon) in season 2, so she would be back in Litchfield Prison in season 3? Whatever the case, they reunite with hate-sex that involves lots of slapping, shoving and biting. Piper eventually asks Alex to be her official girlfriend. Alex says yes. Then the new inmate Stella (Ruby Rose) catches Piper’s eye and official girlfriends don’t seem so important.
They had to burn all the books because of bedbugs. Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) fills the gap in reading material when she writes crazy sci-fi porn and passes it around the prison. She gets fans! She has readers! Prisoners are desperate for any kind of love and/or romance they can find, and Suzanne provides them with a semblance of a love story. One fan in particular, Maureen (Emily Althaus), really wants to connect with her idol Crazy Eyes. Suzanne doesn’t know how to act around the idea of having a real girlfriend, not a dandelion. In the last episode, Suzanne and Maureen make tentative but thrilling contact.
Poussey (Samira Wiley) is so lonely and love-starved that she stays drunk on her homebrew most of season 3. Soso (Kimiko Glenn) is lonely, rejected, friendless, and depressed most of season 3. Something happens that brings these two closer and may be the much needed relationship they both lack.
The loyalties, the friendships, the “families” that form inside prison help people retain their sanity. Maria points out in the first episode, “Mother’s Day,” once people get released, they forget their prison friends. Yet, while inside, the need to feel connected, to be seen and understood by at least one other human being, does not go away. Crazy Eyes even says it out loud, “People need love.”
In addition to this big 3 list, season 3 of Orange is the New Black also deals with the idea of for-profit prisons and the lack of mental health care for inmates. It does all this while still managing to be funny, character driven drama of the highest order. It’s changing American culture, one story at a time.
. . . evidence mounts that solitary confinement produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed in isolation, for the public safety of the communities to which most will return, and for the corrections budgets of jurisdictions that rely on the practice for facility safety.
Remember the bags of Vee’s heroin that Nicky hid in the vent in the laundry? Yeah. That heroin. Well, Nicky and Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) decide to get it out of the prison. Luschek (Matt Peters) will help them and will sell it in the outside world. They plan to use the tunnel that opens into the greenhouse.
That plan falls through. Nicky gets nervous and moves the bags into a fluorescent light housing in the laundry. It falls out. The girls in the laundry get stoned on it. Luschek gets all the remaining heroin from them, puts it in a toolbox with Nicky watching, and carries it out of the prison.
Nicky saves one tiny bag and sticks it under Luschek’s desk. She can’t bear to let it all go. The laundry girls talk, so Caputo (Nick Sandow) searches electrical. Of course, they find the little bag.
Nicky gets all the blame and is sent to SHU Maximum Security [see comments]. Luschek points the finger at her, and that’s all the proof anyone needs. There is no investigation. Nicky’s just carted off. Luschek is not blamed for anything.
This happens in episode 3. Nicky is gone for the rest of the season. Orange is the New Black just isn’t right without Nicky, you know?
I wish there had been an episode near the end of season 3 where Nicky returned. It would have been good to see the effect on her. Maybe that will happen in season 4.
Motherhood is one of the main themes throughout all of season 3. Sophia’s story as a parent is particularly difficult and touching. Her son (Michael Rainey, Jr.) is doing the teen rebellion thing and she doesn’t know how to help with it. She doesn’t know if he needs mothering or fathering from her. She’s conflicted and upset. Her wife (Tanya Wright) says Michael is out of control.
She tries to help by having him come to the prison more often. Gloria (Selenis Leyva) is trying to see her teen-aged son more often, too. She arranges for him to ride with Sophia’s wife for the visits.
The boys get in trouble. Sophia blames Gloria’s boy. Gloria blames Sophia’s boy. Sophia’s wife stops bringing Gloria’s son to visit.
Tension between Sophia and the entire kitchen staff results in Sophia being targeted with transphobic bullying. It sweeps through the prison like a wave. She’s attacked and beaten up by other black women. They even take her blonde wig right off her head. Dirty fighting, that.
The fight wasn’t Sophia’s fault, but she gets taken to SHU “for her own protection.” Nothing happens to any of the instigators or attackers, although, to Gloria’s credit, she looks really sorry about what happened.
Misuse of Solitary
At least in Sophia’s case, Caputo argues against sending her to SHU. But the for-profit bosses running the prison overrule him. I have heard that putting transgender prisoners in solitary “for their own protection” is a common practice in prisons.
In both cases, SHU was used as a quick answer rather than a solution. In both cases, the person who will suffer the horrors of isolation for who-knows-how-long should have been handled in some other way.
There are documented cases where people are kept in isolation for YEARS. As many as 80,000 individuals may be held in isolation per day in federal facilities alone. “Long-term isolation can create or exacerbate serious mental health problems and assaultive or anti-social behavior, result in negative outcomes for institutional safety, and increase the risk of recidivism after release.”
Nicky and Sophia have decent mental health. What if Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) or Morello (Yael Stone) or the paranoid new prisoner Lolly (Lori Petty) ended up in SHU? What about the depressed Soso (Kimiko Glenn)? They would be basket cases when they came out. Or dead.
Piper (Taylor Schilling) did a couple of short stints in SHU in previous seasons, but she had more people working to get her out. What happens when no one is trying to get someone out?
I know Orange is the New Black is TV, not real prison. But I think it brings the injustice and inhumanity of the real prison system into focus for the general public with story lines like these for Nicky and Sophia.
It’s easy to understand why the real Piper Kerman came out of prison and wrote a book. And why she became an activist for prison reform. And why she continues to provide input into this series.