To watch or not to watch: “Orange Is the New Black”


This is my first Netflix original and I think it’s a brilliant concept. Consumers like it because of the lack of annoying network regulations and censorship, plus no commercials, and the ability to devour episode after episode without waiting a week in between. Showrunners probably appreciate the flexibility and innovation. And Netflix, well they get to see their numbers start shooting up because no one wants to be left out when the buzz starts circulating about an awesome new show, so they hurry to sign up.

It seems like everyone has been talking about Orange is the New Black since its July 11 release. Now I can see why. In my last “To Watch or Not to Watch,” I wanted you to tell me whether I should continue with The Americans. Well now I’m telling you, if you haven’t tried out the pilot of this awesome prison dramedy, you need to do so. Or at least the trailer, which I’ve included beyond the jump. Now. Go on, I’ll wait.

The show is actually the true story from Piper Kerman, based on her book Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison:

“With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.”

I’m up to episode 8 and stopped, mid-binge, to write this PSA. I really like it. It takes a lot for my sister to engage in a new show and even she likes it, so we’ve been watching it together. I’ve enjoyed seeing the familiar faces—Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One) as our leading lady Piper, Laura Prepon (That ‘70s Show) as her former lesbian lover Alex, Jason Biggs and Natasha Lyonne (American Pie) as Piper’s husband and a fellow inmate, respectively—but also the vast number of unfamiliar ones who bring Litchfield to life.

Aside from the truly unique plot, I love that they managed to take such a bleak setting and inject it with humor. (It comes from the creator of “Weeds,” after all.) I cracked up more than once during the pilot and it’s only gotten better. Watching Piper navigate the social structure (“Baby, high school is high school.”) and come to terms with who she is and what she’s done is a journey I’m all too willing to take with her.

My favorite characters (besides Piper) so far:

I love the way she talks.
Straight out of Brooklyn, she looks and sounds like
she would’ve fit right in with the Pink Ladies.

A transgender hairdresser with sass.

Straight up, no bullshit. Similar to her character in American Pie actually.

Cutie cop with a crush on an inmate. Lost part of his leg in Afghanistan.

Have you watched Orange is the New Black? If so, who is your favorite inmate?
If not, what are you waiting for?

P.S. “Yoga Jones” is Patti Mayonnaise. That is all.


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