Do the time for ‘Orange is the New Black’
The new Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is The New Black held me prisoner for two days as I binge-watched this addicting new series, based on the book of the same title, written by Piper Kenman. The book and the series are loosely based on Kenman’s real life experiences during her time in prison.
Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is an educated, white girl from Connecticut who seemed drawn to a little excitement. Years prior to her prison time, she met an intriguing women, Alex Vause, (Laura Prepon), who loved living on the razors edge. They fell in love and lived in the fast paced, fast money lifestyle of drug smugglers. Alex was always looking for those ‘all American looking girls’ to help her move the money and the drugs, but she had never fallen in love with them like she did with Piper. As is always the case, they make one drug/money run too many and Alex and her gang of thugs get busted and have to name names. This is how we find Piper serving a 15 month sentence in a women’s prison in Litchfield, NY, just months after getting engaged to Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs).
The series may revolve around Piper navigating her way in prison, but hang around a little longer, because although it is interesting to see her out think her way out of some pretty scary situations, it is the other characters that really kept me staying up late to finish the 13 episode series. The opening scene puts a lot into perspective as fellow prisoner, Morello, (Yael Stone) let’s her know it’s “not so bad”, then assures her “We take care of our own. It’s not racists, it’s tribal”. A great introduction for what we can expect in the series.
The rich backstories of Red, (Kate Mulgrew), who runs the kitchen with a Russian iron fist, or Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox), a transgender women who is the prison beautician and can make lip gloss from Vaseline and Kool-Aid. (Natasha Lyonne) plays Nicky, a prison wise lesbian who is able to keep it all in perspective with her wit and savvy. We also learn of a few prisoners like Miss Claudette, (Michelle Hurst), who are there because she took justice into her own hands and has to pay the price, or Yoga Jones, (Constance Shulman), who mistakenly shot an innocent person and can never namaste the guilt away.This show solidifies that prison is full of really interesting characters and the casting for this show is exemplary! The true standouts for me are the people we love to hate. The power hungry, creepy, corrupt, prison guard, George Mendez, (Pablo Schreiber) gives a performance that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up whenever he enters the scene, but the character I just can’t take my eyes off of is ‘Pennsatucky’, (Taryn Manning), a former meth head, who believes God works and speaks through her. “I’m not crazy, I’m chosen!” She delivers a Charlie Manson crazy, with an evangelistic twist. She steals every scene she is in and her story throws you more than a few curve balls in later episodes.
The dark moments in this series are really dark and the girl-on-girl sex, doesn’t hold much for the imagination, but take it in for all it has to offer. Intriguing story, amazing performances by the cast, and a little humor thrown in. Put your time in for this one!