This is a series called Sheroes & Zeroes, about the people who defined our year in culture in both terrific and terrible ways.
A major focus of Orange Is the New Black is the apparent insanity of Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren, a character played brilliantly by Uzo Aduba. Though her condition has yet to be officially diagnosed, Suzanne is without a doubt mentally disturbed, as shown to great effect in season one's pie-throwing incident.
This might be the most popular Crazy Eyes moment (it's for sure the most Crazy Eyes Moment), but there are many more superior scenes that have made Aduba's character arguably the most complex role on OITNB. In the first two seasons, Aduba has fully owned and consumed a role that's hilarious, misunderstood, vulnerable and disconnected from reality at once, playing an oddball with an instability that requires considerable caution to pull off. Because Crazy Eyes is crazy, but there's wisdom between her loose screws.
In episode six of season two, which was released to Netflix in June, Suzanne finds out that Lorna Morello (who's revealed to be a crazed stalker) was lying all along about her engagement to a guy named Christopher. Suzanne approaches Morello at the prison's Valentine's party and shares this piece of advice, one lovable nut to another: "I know something about loving people who aren't smart enough to want to be loved back. I learned a secret that I can tell you: They don't deserve it." It's a short and sweet scene that highlights the depth of Aduba's performance.
Among the show's diverse and deeply layered characters, Aduba's is the most fascinating to watch, and it deservingly earned her an Emmy this year for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
The past season dove further into Crazy Eyes' mental health and the strained relationship with her white adoptive parents, a history that explains why Suzanne so easily becomes a punching bag for the new prison villain, Vee. Earlier this year, I interviewed Aduba (who has a background in theater) at a press junket for season two. Her natural poise, so much in contrast with the unhinged nature of Crazy Eyes, shows how carefully she has given Suzanne dimension. Aduba said:
"The thing about Suzanne is she is constantly seeking validation. That is her driving force — for someone to see her. And Vee does see her. Going back, she doesn't feel or see that validation or acceptance from her mother. Because Vee is calculating and filled with an agenda, she sees that need in Suzanne and manipulates it to her favor."
Just like that, a character is relatable that in anyone else's hands might be very much the opposite. Aduba is a major reason I'm attached to Orange Is the New Black—I've binge-watched it ad nauseum, interviewed half the cast and written a painstaking glossary.
To add to her Emmy, Aduba's is also nominated for a Golden Globe (best supporting actress in a series, mini-series or TV movie) and SAG Award (outstanding performance by a female actress in a comedy series). Give her ALL the awards. Finally, let's take a moment to admire how this woman three-fire-emoji's the red carpet every time.
Images via AP, Getty.