A while back I kept seeing this post go around. I have been meaning to address it for some time.
First of all I want to point out that most characters in Orange is the New Black are bad people, men and women alike. It’s a women’s prison so most criminals we see are women and in seeing their back stories we can see that some of them have done some pretty bad things to get in there. Even the women who are not inmates are pretty bad people (Piper’s mom, Polly, Figeroa and the female cops). I wont get too into how and why these people could be considered “horrible” (or at least, as “horrible” as the male characters) because that’s not what this post is about.
What my contention is with this post is where it says: “They’re not all horrible. Bennett’s nice. What more do you want?”.
Bennet is not nice, he’s as horrible as the rest, if not more. He has acted from the beginning in the least professional way of any correctional officer. He has acted out of selfishness and stupidity throughout and has not been treating Diaz as if she was a real person at all, more like treating her like some object of love interest while he’s on the job. This has been shown many times where she talks to him and tries to come to an agreement with him but he just does what he wants anyway. He has framed Mendez seemingly without remorse when Mendez thought he and Bennet were friends regardless of what Diaz wanted, in fact going directly and immediately against her wishes.
But this post isn’t really to bring down Officer Bennet. If you watch the show, you can clearly see that he is a very flawed person and in no way a shining example of what it is to be a good human being.
In this post, I want to bring to light a male character from Orange is the New Black that is one of my favourite characters in general and who hardly gets any recognition at all:
Officer Scott O’Neill
I really came to appreciate Joel Garland’s character when I watched the first two seasons of this TV show a second time. He is not a main character so his story is easy to be overlooked.
Officer O’Neill treats the inmates decently enough from what I could see. He acts as professionally as he can anyway.
When Chapman got furlough he escorted her out and managed to give her the whole spiel like a good employee and appreciated she noticing the effort he made for that.
His interactions with the inmates don’t seem cruel or dehumanizing at any point.
We see a bit of his relationship with Officer Bell. They clearly make a great effort as to not let their personal lives affect their professional lives too much (though the two overlap).
His relationship with Wanda Bell has rough patches that are discussed but they are mostly based in insecurities and not because either of them is particularly horrible.
He takes pleasure in small things. Finds things to smile about and tries to be light-hearted in the face of bleak situations.
From his “Steps” program to try and get in shape to his shift to healthier eating habits with his yogurt, O’Neill is apparently a decent human being (regardless of his position as a correctional officer).
And I think we can all agree that the most glorious Scott O’Neill moments were in the Season 2 finale:
When he’s told to take care of the nuns
His impromptu song
Even with nuns which he severely dislikes he doesn’t wish them death or anything like that he “kinda” wishes them with some unpleasantness. In fact he even helps get them out of harm’s way
Officer Scott O’Neill is a way better example of a “good” male character in Orange is the New Black than Bennett could ever hope to be. In fact, he’s even more “good” than most female characters on the show. He really doesn’t get the recognition I think he deserves, probably because he’s not eye candy. Talking about representation I think O’Neill deserves a mention…