July 26, 2019
There are not many shows that can lay claim to changing the television landscape during their lifetime, but Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) is one of them.
Orange Is the New Black final series review, back to its very best
It was the third series ever commissioned by Netflix, after House of Cards and the now-forgotten Hemlock Grove, and the first that made the most of the idea that an audience might be hungry to see representations of itself. Its stories crossed lines of class, race, sexuality and gender and mixed up comedy and drama to such an extent that it confused awards judges. It made stars of its huge cast, and set the template for the modern age of binge-watching. In 2013, when we realised we could watch 13 episodes in a weekend, OITNB figured out how to pace its stories according to overindulgence, rather than the traditional weekly drop-in.
It exits with this, its seventh and final season: easily the best and most self-assured since its debut. While OITNB was always ambitious, it occasionally tripped over its own shoelaces. It dedicated a whole season to a three-day prison riot, which was a bold idea whose execution collapsed into a mess of confusion. One of the main criticisms the show has faced is that it is too depressing. Its warm wit makes you love characters, but then the show does cruel, terrible things to them. Yes, it’s about incarcerated women, so it was never likely to be a cuddly rainbow explosion, but it is also entertainment, not a documentary about penal reform – and there proved to be an upper limit to how much suffering viewers could manage. My moment came when Taystee took the fall for the riot, meaning one of the show’s most beloved characters was dealt the blow of a life sentence without parole. After the earlier death of Poussey, the show’s other most beloved character, it was a horror too far.
Orange Is the New Black final series review, back to its very best
But the balance has been restored, just about. Series seven still has moments of gloom so gut-wrenching it is difficult to watch, but they feel earned rather than punitive. Characters who have long been in need of a plot have finally been given something to do again. Piper, our original “Trojan horse”, is out on probation, and becomes a walking demonstration of the labyrinthine bureaucracy that makes life difficult, if not impossible, for recently released prisoners. Once again, she survives it, but only because she can call in favours from the society she was born into. The outside world is not as kind to others, such as Black Cindy. The show has always been very good at illustrating the reach of white, wealthy privilege.
The outside world looms large here. There is a clever, light #MeToo storyline that is brave in the way it hands out its sympathies, making it all the more probing and thoughtful. Litchfield now has an immigration detention centre attached to it, and if Piper thinks she’s struggling in a tangle of barmy regulations, it has nothing on the sheer insanity of the mass detentions and deportations, which make a tidy profit for the corporation running the ship. (The show’s anticapitalist streak has always been fun.) Phone calls must be paid for, but there is no money. The prisoners can’t talk to their children, because they don’t always know where their children are. They are thrown a lifeline in the form of Gloria and Red, who run the kitchen, and set up an underground legal network, one of the main threads that ties the season together.

The show mostly resists the temptation to say goodbye with a greatest hits tour, but it certainly gets the band playing some familiar tunes. It will be hard to find any fan with a complaint, given that all the favourites, and some surprises, get at least a little screen time, especially in the final episode. Even the chickens make a comeback. Not all of it works – Daya’s evolution into ice-cold top dog is cartoonish, for example – but it never lacks heart. The season really belongs to Taystee, who is struggling with the injustice of her sentence and the Sisyphean task of fighting it, and to Pennsatucky, trying to make something of her life inside.
But for all of its crowdpleasing, its message is ultimately one of futility. There are small victories, and occasional triumphs, but mostly, the wheels just keep on turning the same way they always did. It is a bittersweet note to end on, but it is utterly true to itself, and Orange Is the New Black has always been that.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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