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Orange is the New Black




Last month, I wouldn’t shut up about The Bling Ring. This month, I’m telling everyone about Orange is the New Black.

“No one’s gonna hit you harder than life.”

So says my favorite new character on a TV show– Taystee  on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. 

There are so many quotable lines, really, and they range from deep and true to laugh-out-loud hilarious.  Some how this show is managing to balance on the line between witty and dramatic in such a way that I actually want to watch it.  Usually, I eschew dramas thanks to my day job in crisis intervention for mental health.  It’s my job to hear about everyone’s worst day ever, so I generally want to lighten my mood by the time I settle down in front of the television at night.   I’ll make the exception for Orange is the New Black. 

It’s based on the memoir by the same name by Piper Kerman.   The real Piper carried a suitcase full of drug money for her girlfriend at the time. Ten years later, she’s living a hetero-WASPy life with her boyfriend Larry. Her past catches up to her when she’s named by one of the other members of the drug ring, and she’s tracked down by the Feds and sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.    The Smith graduate ends up in Danbury, CT in a system totally alien to her blond-haired, upper middle class existence.

Truthfully, the book isn’t as good as the TV show, but it’s still pretty interesting. Buzzfeed helpfully points out some of the biggest differences, but the biggest thing is that Real Piper makes better choices than TV Piper.  But what fun is a TV show where the heroine is perfect?

I think Tom and Lorenzo sum up the show’s appeal pretty well in this blog post.  It’s a show about women and by women. And these are women who we never see represented on TV.  It almost feels weird to see so many women on a show, which is disheartening.  It would be easy to focus on Piper, but the show is really the best when she’s NOT front and center. There are so many compelling women, and their friendships and conflicts with each other make you really care for them.   My favorite pairing on the show isn’t even romantic at all– it’s the prison BFF dynamic duo of Taystee and Poussey.   Here’s a scene where they imitate white people, and it’s a killer.

Not everyone loves it.  Here’s a critic who didn’t last more than 3 episodes, thanks to the “gross out factor” and some personal quibbles with the characters.  I would argue there’s no more “gross out factor” than what you praise on HBO.  You see the same boobs and sexual activity on Game of Thrones.  Is it less watchable because women are the leads?

Here’s a couple of links to get your started down my Road of Obsession:

The Real Piper talks about consulting on the show.

Some great details from the show, highlighted by the ever list-friendly Buzzfeed.   Included: Crazy Eyes and her quoting of Shakespeare, Taystee’s dancing, and Sophia’s prison fashion.

Natasha Lyonne’s character seems a lot like her real life persona.  A Vulture reporter follows her around for a day while she apartment hunts, and it’s hard not to imagine Nikki every time Lyonne opens her mouth.

While we’re at Vulture, they rounded up some fun facts about the show. For example, Yoga Jones (a prisoner who leads a yoga class for her fellow inmates) is played by the voice of Patty Mayonnaise on the 90s cartoon Doug.

Oh, and here’s the trailer for the show.

Go forth and binge watch!