Kittens in a Cage
Comedy Romance Crime Musical, Average Episode Duration: 17 min
Bad girls doing bad things in bad places.
Overall, Kittens in a Cage is a series that has the potential to take off into something big.
If you laughed at Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, or Dan Harmon’s Community, you’re going to love Kittens in a Cage. Set in a woman’s prison, the series starts with the incarceration of Junie Butler (Rebecca Mozo), a ukulele-playing sweetheart who’s landed herself ten to twelve years in prison after getting caught in a failed robbery. Abandoned by her gang and mother, she finds comfort in her pyromaniac cellmate, Vickie (Erin Anderson), who shows her the ropes in Marquetta State Prison. This can include anything from how to make raisin-based alcohol in the toilet to avoiding prisoners such as the ax-murderer Jeanine (Rebecca Field) and her cannibal cellmate (Jillian Armenate). Needless to say, as Junie starts to find her footing, the spark she feels between her and Vickie starts to grow into a burning passion (pun very much intended).
While lesbian prison series are not anything new (for instance Netflix’s OITNB or Vis-à-vis), Kittens in a Cage offers a new approach to what seems to be an emerging genre in WLW cinema. Despite serious subject matters such as wrongful incarceration, abuse of power, and “rehabilitation,” the series is one that in its absurdist humor doesn’t take itself too seriously. And perhaps this is what makes it so original. You may even go as far as to say that in taking these issues so lightly, it reflects a system of incarceration that also doesn’t address them with the adequate attention. But then again, there is a villainous matron who lost her arm to a monkey, so this analysis may be a stretch…
Of course, this kind of humor is not for everyone. It’s a bit like marmite: either you love it or you hate it, which is why we’ve put 3 stars as it can vary so much depending on who’s watching it. It’s the kind of humor where you’re going to have to accept whatever happens and not question it too much. Did the cannibal just literally chew her fingers of? Yes. Did a guard find a pipe in a prisoner’s underpants? Of course. Is anyone in the series remotely surprised by these events? Not too much.
As well as its surreal humor, Kittens in a Cage plays with the hyperbolic masculinity you may find in a male prison or crime series. There are times when it will be a direct imitation, such as the opening which seems to mimic Sons of Anarchy’s intro. Other times, it will turn to an exaggerated femininity that in another context would look out-of-place or even ridiculous. The best example of this would be the pin-up style costume design, complete with the lacy bras and heavy lashes.
Overall, Kittens in a Cage is a series that has the potential to take off into something big. Already counting on well-known names such as Jillian Armenante (Girl Interrupted), Rebecca Field (The Client List) and singer LaToya London, it’s one that can only continue to attract more attention as it pushes the limits of comedy while also presenting characters that, whether you like it or not, you end up developing a soft spot for them.
Watch the trailer
This article was written by:
Isidora has written for various student papers, offering articles from film reviews to opinion pieces that often had Latin American cultural events or productions as the focus of the piece.
She has just graduated from her MPhil in Comparative Literatures from the University of Cambridge, and will be going on to do her PhD in Hispanic Studies in Toronto.