Men have been on my mind lately, actually men have been on my mind since puberty but these days my thoughts are different when it comes to the opposite sex. I love men. I love so much about them. Their blissful ignorance towards drama, their goal oriented way of thinking, their primal approach to problems; most of all I love that they are not women.
Unfortunately, the men I know these days are not like this. Too many men I know are passive and petty. Too many men I know do not have goals. Too many men I know spend their time whining rather than working. This may be a questionable approach to the topic of men and it may even make me a hypocrite, nonetheless, it’s where I found clear-cut examples of manning up. If you don’t watch the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black that’s okay. This article focuses on only two of the characters. The first being Larry, the love interest of the protagonist Piper who we meet in season one. The second character is Alex who we also meet in season one, who is also Piper’s love interest.
Alex and Larry have nothing in common other than they both love Piper. One is a man and the other a woman. Larry has lived a pampered life. Alex grew up poor. Larry’s parents are together, Alex was raised by a single mom. Larry is a dreamer who hopes for the best. Alex is a patient planner. Larry is sweet and kind. Alex is smart and sexy. Larry is under the impression that crack can be snorted. Alex was a wealthy heroin importer. Choosing between the two is like picking sweats over leather leggings. Piper has a helluva time deciding who to be with since these people are doorways to two different worlds.
Quick sidebar from the characters up for discussion to glance at the main one. What I wonder about more than the bisexuality thing or the prison thing, is why why would someone like Piper Chapman be such a sought after prize? I usually feel this way with love triangles, half gay or not, the object of the competitor’s affections never really seem worthy of the fight that ensues. Take Twilight for example, Bella, the ghostly, frail, somber girl who hardly ever smiles somehow becomes the reason for two super human species to exist. Or The Hunger Games, Katniss is a badass who can fend for herself which is admirable but as a person she doesn’t have much depth and is an overall difficult individual, and yet she has two gallant gentlemen fighting for her cold heart. I feel the same sort of confusion when it comes to Piper. She has her moments of charm and humor but those things are constantly overshadowed by her bougie comments and narcissistic actions. She’s not dumb or unattractive but she is certainly hard to like. Which circles me back around to the thought, when it comes to this repetitious rupture in the reoccurring triangle tryst of storytelling, why do we choose to ship and support such shitty souls with smart and savvy suitors? I have no answer for that so let’s get back to the courtside characters Alex Vause and Larry Bloom to further discuss their stark contrast.
Orange is the New Black does things differently. It’s been said the show is like none other out there, one reason being that it’s set in a women’s prison so obviously, it has a strong female focus. Although it is 2017, viewers are still used to seeing females play supporting roles in TV show series’. Orange allows for a lot of ladies to be in the limelight. The bleak background of being locked up in Litchfield allows for a vast array of prominent female characters. Ironically, a show primarily about women really had me thinking about men. How men are and how they should be. All because of Larry.
Larry Bloom is played by American Pie actor and all around hilarious human, Jason Biggs. Larry is the good neighbor, the nice teacher, someone you wouldn’t mind exchanging pleasantries with in the checkout line. He’s the designated driver, the wrist watch wearer, the chicken soup bearer, pillow of a pal. He’s a nice guy which is nice because it’s nice to be nice, except there’s not much more to him. This article explains Larry perfectly in my opinion. He’s not the guy that will make you think smarter or push you harder. He won’t make you laugh louder or stand taller or give you the chills when it’s not even cold. The Larrys of the world will keep things just the way they are and not rock the boat in the slightest, which would be fine if life were one long spring day of pond fishing, but it’s not. Life is like swimming in the shallow before being taken by the current and feeling the rush of a free fall, flailing down a waterfall, praying there are no rocks or things with teeth upon impact. Life is not always easy and when you are up a creek without a paddle, Larry is not the guy you can count on. Too many men these days are passive little petunias. Not all men-thank the Lord- just the majority of men I know. Just the Larrys of the world. The heavy saturation of nauseating, sweater over a button-down wearing, Larry-like men has me rethinking the whole ‘death do us part thing.’ Let me be damned before I’m tied to a Larry. Then there’s Alex. Honestly if she wasn’t such a perfect woman she would make a great man. She’s observant, intelligent and thoughtful. Should you find yourself washing toward a waterfall she’d be the one to sporadically fashion some method of survival seconds before you slid over the edge.
Laura Prepon from That 70’s Show plays Alex Vause and they could not have chosen a better actress for the part. The truth is they weren’t even casting for Vause when Prepon auditioned but creator Jenji Cohen told the actress; “I can’t get you out of my mind for Alex. You’re Alex Vause.” Laura Prepon has been killing it ever since. Alex is streetwise, expertly sarcastic and exudes adventure. She’s a goal getter who doesn’t let emotions get in the way. She is logical. She’s badass. She’s a self-proclaimed ruthless pragmatist who has endearing moments of vulnerability. She could very well walk this world alone but she prefers to do it with those she loves. Alex is straightforward and effortlessly sexy, while simultaneously being successful and stealthy. By popular opinion she is quite the goddess however, she does have her flaws. She’s manipulative and sharp. Along with being a backstabbing, immoral liar.
Even with these destructive traits, she’s one you would want on your team. She’s very useful and a potential problem if she does not like you. The woman knows what she wants and how to get it and she will not stop until she does. I for one think there’s something really wrong in the culture or at least my corner of it, when a manipulative, sultry, sadistic, lesbian, drug smuggler shows how to be a better man than those born with the proper parts.
Obviously there’s more to being a man than anatomy. Going off the bible in Genesis, the very beginning, after the fall, scripture says men are made to work, to lead and to love, fiercely. So where is all that? What I see these days are far too many secondary characters and no one brave enough to take the lead role. Ideally I would meet an alpha male but truthfully meeting one with ambition would be enough encouragement. Are females to blame for this? As an alpha female, do I expect too much? Am I being unreasonable or do I just have standards? I have no problem being a lady in man’s world. Just because I have no problem acting independently does not mean that is how I want to be exclusively. Just because I can open my own doors and carry my own bags does not mean I’m not flattered when men offer to do those favors for me. I love masculinity and chivalry and that compartmentalized, waffle-like way of thinking. I enjoy man’s brutish nature along with the occasional peacocking. I find it exciting when men chase and achieve their goals. I consider it admirable when a man knows he is not made of stone and asks for help. I see sweetness in a man’s ability to feel feelings and not wallow in them. I have the utmost respect for men who provide for themselves and those they love. There’s nothing more compelling to me than a man who can take charge without being a fascist tyrant.
Jack from This is Us is a character that portrays manliness at its finest. This is Us is an amazing show that perfectly illustrates what it means to be a man, (and a woman) a spouse and a family member, it’s my most recent favorite show other than Orange and they could not be on farther ends of the spectrum. One you can make a family night out of, the other you probably shouldn’t watch at full volume. My father, a real life example, is not a Larry but he certainly hears me rant about the ones that I know. Ranting is not the solution when it comes to the lack of men who know how to man up, but sometimes a woman just needs to get it out.
I was re-watching all the seasons of Orange in French to brush up on the language when I saw a close-up of freaking Larry trying and failing to open a jar. Opening a jar is the most basic man skill. It’s actually in the show, I’m not kidding, season two episode six. It’s a filler shot with no plot line or character context so they must have put it in there for no other reason than to illustrate that Larry is not only mentally weak, he’s physically weak too. I’m not a lesbian but when you’re a woman surrounded by Larrys it is hard not to hate the team you’re on. Seeing Vause handle things like a boss, going after her goals with vigor and pursuing what and who she craves with passion and at times, intimidating intensity, it’s hard not to root for that. Especially when she keeps her remarkable confidence and badassery regardless of the situation. As if that’s not enough she also happens to be incredibly hot.
If Larry behaved like Alex people would probably see Alex’s deceitful ways in a brighter light. There would be a Team Larry if he wasn’t such a wet blanket.
Orange is the new Black is based on the prison memoir written by Piper Kerman who loved Larry Smith, and still does. They’re married and she’s a successful activist while Larry is a successful writer, much more successful than the one poetrayed by actor Jason Biggs on the show. My life with Piper is the memoir written by Larry Smith. Since the real life Larry is not a loser, it might be something I pick up, he did get the girl after all. After my tirade of pointing out the flimsy work ethic and disregard for responsibility in men my age and saying I just want to see some respectable drive, someone who is so confident in themselves it makes them sexy. Then vehemently adding, I’m not a lesbian but if Larrys are the best offer, maybe I don’t even like men anymore. At the end of my spirited speech, when I was nearly shouting my preference for Alex Vause over any of the men I know, my dad interrupted by firing three bullets of solution. Three starter steps on how to be a man:
- Quit blaming
- Take responsibility
- Don’t speak, take action
See, what did I tell you? Men say things directly and it is refreshing. These three things I could follow more closely myself. This is advice Larry of Orange does not take instead, he acts out the opposite. He blames Piper or his family, even Alex (which was an awesome scene.) He justifies his actions by playing the victim and then profits from them. Like how he used Piper’s prison sentence to land a column in the New York Times, even admitting to her brother Cal; “Piper is the most interesting thing about me.” My goodness, get your own life. Bloom could’ve written a solid, truthful piece about a couple in joint suffering but he sold her out to get attention. Also, the title sucked. He chooses words over actions constantly. What’s worse is that he whines. That may be the worst thing about this character and the Larrys that I know, the whine. Babies whine, kittens whine, things that are helpless whine. Men do not whine. Men may pour the wine, that’s the kind of wine that’s just fine. Larry is an insecure beggar. Desperation is so unflattering.
Alex on the other hand, lives this advice. She may place blame in the midst of an argument but when she does it’s usually a valid point. If she does in fact blame anyone, it’s herself. She knows exactly why she is in prison and she is faithfully doing her time. One of the things I love most about her is that she takes action, she prefers it. When the time is right she handles it. She’s a show, don’t tell kind of person. I suppose time will let me know whether or not to Larrys I have in my life will either grow up or go away. Until then, I’ll be waiting for a Vause in the body of a bearded lumberjack.