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Why 'Orange Is The New Black' Duo Taystee And Poussey Have TV's Greatest Friendship

Taystee and Poussey > Amanda and Mackenzie.

Anyone who watched season two of "Orange is the New Black" can tell you -- all of the drama with Piper (Taylor Schilling) paled in comparison to what happened when Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) started a war between Litchfield's various "tribes."

This war had some seriously physical implications, like the damage to Red's (Kate Mulgrew) face and Poussey's (Samira Wiley) entire body, but the hardest part for me -- and dare I say it, most other fans -- to swallow was the wedge it drove between Poussey and her longtime best friend, Taystee (Danielle Brooks). The show will (finally!) return this Friday (June 12), and when the action picks up, let's hope that the show devotes some time to repairing its most precious relationship... here's why:

  1. We need more female friendships on television.
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    "Orange is the New Black" has undoubtedly done more for its legions of female characters -- especially its female characters of color -- than any other show "on television." However, for the sake of truth and drama, the show's leading lady is frequently at odds with the women around her... after all, they wouldn't have a show if Piper fit in perfectly at Litchfield.

    Taystee and Poussey, on the other hand, always had each other's backs first and foremost until Vee brought out Taystee's mommy issues and destroyed everything. In a television world where, "Broad City" aside, genuine female friendships are hard to come by -- there wouldn't be a Bechdel test if they weren't -- "Orange is the New Black" managed to portray one that was nuanced, powerful, and mutually beneficial. These two women needed each other in order to process their seriously messed up world and where they might belong in it, and even though their situation is far crappier than most American women could ever dream of, it was easy to relate to their mutual need for female companionship in tough times.

    Taystee and Poussey live in a pop culture universe that values the "bromance" and gangs like the "Entourage" bros while the characters in "Girls" rip each other to shreds, so it was pretty great to see the female equivalent -- a lady-mance? -- occasionally take center stage on a popular television series.

  2. We need more levity on "Orange is the New Black."
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    The "is 'Orange is the New Black' a comedy or a drama?" Emmy's debate is happening for a reason. The show can get dark while also being darkly hilarious, but watching Taystee and Poussey do their "Amanda and Mackenzie" bits and squabble over the television was always, without question, one of the greatest joys of "OITNB" season one.

    The show wouldn't be honest if it didn't deal with heavy themes like racism, the prison industrial complex, racism within the prison industrial complex, immigration, misogyny, and the f--ked up side effects of the War on Drugs, but it also wouldn't be as fun or as binge-able if it didn't also celebrate the human beings living with these issues. Watching Taystee and Poussey -- especially when juxtaposed with some of the show's meatier bits, and even when these ladies were experiencing some of the heavier bits -- is one of the show's great comedic triumphs, so let's hope that they get their sh-t together and start making us and each other laugh again.

  3. Because Taystee and Poussey are awesome, period.
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    Of course, Taystee and Poussey wouldn't be so winsome as a duo if they weren't standout characters on their own. Taystee is hilarious, well read, and brave enough to feel joy in terrible circumstances, while Poussey is creative, fiercely intelligent, and a permanently loyal friend. Taystee is accepting when Poussey expresses romantic feelings that she herself does not have; Poussey tries her best to be understanding when Taystee struggles with her feelings for Vee.

    Overall, these two on their own are about a zillion times more innately likable than Piper, Alex (Laura Prepon), and most of the white lady gang minus Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), so of course it's fantastic when they get to pair up and be awesome as a dynamic duo. Make it happen, Netflix!