Indiana Daily Student

'Oz' details human nature

HBO's prison drama "Oz" is depressing enough to make Kathy Lee Gifford stick a .357 Magnum in her mouth. It's more violent than Miss Piggy on crack, and it has more man-on-man rape than a Gore Vidal novel. \nIt's also one of the best shows on television. \n"Oz" offers absorbing stories about murderers, drug dealers, rapists and gang leaders all clawing at each other to stay alive in an environment as conducive to survival as an extermination camp. Main characters frequently die in Oswald State Correctional Facility, "Oz" for short, proving anyone can fall off the face of the earth.\nFor example, Nikolia Stanislofsky (Philip Casnoff) came of age this season as a bonafide slippery weasel, outfoxing the machiavellian inmate Ryan O'Reilly (Dean Winters).\nStanislofsky, who survived a Soviet labor camp, seemed to be adapting well to his American jail. But when he let his guard down to take a bath in the infirmary, O'Reilly had a prison guard drop a hair dryer in the tub.\nLooks like even those Stalinist gulags weren't so tough after all.\nBut I digress. Stanislofsky's death illustrates the show's appeal. Some people watched "Survivor" to see who would get voted off the island. I watch "Oz" to see which inmate will get shanked, injected with AIDS-tainted blood or thrown down an open elevator shaft.\nIt's a tribute to Tom Fontana, the show's creator/executive producer, that he can make viewers want to see what happens to characters as guilty as Mumia Abu-Jamal. \nThat's right, he's guilty. Get over it!\nGetting back to the subject, one character who both intrigues and horrifies the audience is Simon Adebisi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Adebisi has killed more people than John Landis, and yet my mom, sometimes a fan, watched with delight as he mercilessly climbed to the top of the prison food chain last season, going through his enemies as well as his friends like a .50 caliber slug through concrete.\nThis season, dedicated "Oz" fans knew Adebisi's power would crumble. But what happened doubtless came as a surprise to many ' at least, it did to me. \nAdebisi forgets that in a world where everyone is at war with everyone else, no altruistic act goes unpunished. When he entrusts his new ally Kareem Said (Eamonn Walker) with evidence of his drug and prostitution rings, Said not only turns Adebisi in but also kills him.\nOnce again, the show drives a point home: In prison, the powerless and the powerful are destroyed alike. The same can be said for life outside of prison. "Oz" reinforces my personal conviction: In the end, all of us, from the most righteous to Harlan Cohen, are doomed.

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