Orange is the New Black is the newest Netflix original series loosely based on a book of the same name (by Piper Kerman). I binge-watched all 13 episodes of season 1 in an 18-hour period. That show is EVERYTHING! If you don’t have a NetFlix account, get one (or ask one of your friends who have it for their login info).
“Orange” is about Piper Chapman, who ends up in federal prison serving a 15-month term for carrying drug money once, 10 years before. She was a naive drug mule for her then girlfriend, and two years before the statute of limitations runs out, so does her freedom. The show follows Piper’s journey in prison, weaving in the lives of her fellow inmates and how they got to where they are.
It’s SO good and I am now obsessed with it so I gotta tell you 10 reasons why I love it. No worries, I don’t include plot point spoilers.
10 Reasons Why I Love Orange is the New Black
1. The theme song is an ear worm – The opening of “Orange” is the song “You Got Time” by Regina Spektor, and it goes for a minute before every episode (over a montage of various women’s eyes and mouths in close up). I found myself singing it along with the opening credits by episode 3. And even after I finished season 1, I was humming the song. It’s an ear worm and I have no defense against it.
2. They jump right into the action - In the first seconds of the premiere episode, we see two women in the shower getting it ON and it’s like “well damb.” No they don’t offer you a seat and a glass of water when you come in. They steal your shoes from you and tell you to STFU. And you do. OITNB hooks you before you can even decide if you want to be. I’m a fan of shows that just get right into what they’re doing instead of giving us long setups.
3. Piper’s Walter White-esque transformation - Piper Chapman walked into prison as a rich, blonde white girl who wanted to just do her time and be out. She was an “other” in that she didn’t fit the mold of someone you’d expect to go to be where she was. She wasn’t a junky, her crime wasn’t violent, she was college-educated and overall pretty privileged. However, the more she tried to stay out of drama, the more she got woven into it. Her season 1 reminded me of Walter White’s from Breaking Bad. You can’t be a part of the ugliness without getting ugly yourself. And her evolution in prison is so interesting to watch.
4. The camaraderie rocks – Although the show centers around Piper, it’s also about the other women around her and how they’ve created this community in prison. I think what I love the most about “Orange” is seeing the camaraderie of these women who are sharing their lives behind the real life version of Azkaban (if dementors were corrupt guards with porn moustaches).
For them to be able to forge these deep relationships is a testament to the human need for connection, no matter the circumstance. And the running theme in shows like this (The Wire, Breaking Bad etc), where everyone is basically a “bad guy” is that they all have a code. And that code is often that they form tribes and look out for each other in those tribes.
Characters like Red, who is the head chef of the prison kitchen. Or the friendship between Poussey (pronounced Poo-say) and Taystee. And the kinship between the Latinas. Even the pitiful “God squad” got each other’s back. In a world where these women have so little control over their coming and going, it’s dope to see this.
Also, off camera, the cast of the show actually LOVES each other. They’ve been tweeting and Instagramming pics of themselves hanging out and being adorable. And I’m a sucker for finding out that on-screen friendships extend to real life too. AAWWWWWWW.
5. It’s so diverse - Might I add that it sucks that I even have to put this as a plus? I look forward to the day when seeing a show or movie’s cast look like the real world is no longer impressive. “WHOA! THEY GOT DIFFERENT PEOPLE! YAYY!”
Anywho, they got all types of women in OITNB and I do appreciate that. One of the ways that “Orange” really stands apart from other shows is that they have a transsexual woman playing the role of a transsexual woman! And that is ridiculously novel.
We can’t even get Saturday Night Live to hire a Black woman for their show, instead of getting Kenan to play ALLTHEBLACKWIMMINZ. So this is incredibly impressive of “Orange.” BuzzFeed has an article about how Laverne Cox broke the Trans glass ceiling.
Sophia is a trans woman who was a husband and father pre-transition, and is now struggling with how her gender switch changed her family dynamic. And I like that Sophia was one of the first characters besides Piper, whose background we got to explore. Which brings me to the next point.
6. The flashbacks – “Orange” does a brilliant job of telling the story of the women in the Litchfield Federal Correctional Facility through intermittent flashbacks. Because knowing where they are now makes you want to know where they came from. These women aren’t “bad” per se – they all just made bad decisions at one point or another. Like Poussey said “we all just made a wrong turn going to church.” We’ve been given the backgrounds of folks like Miss Claudette, Sophia, Tricia and Watson and I look forward to learning more about the others, especially, Crazy Eyes.
7. It is full of teachable moments – I’m drawn to shows that feel like documentaries, educating and entertaining at the same time. I’ve already mentioned The Wire but what draws me to stuff like that is the drama but also the real-life commentary they make. This show clearly touches on the prison-industrial complex, the various shades of sexuality, privilege (cis-gender, white, male, educated) and racism. It also doesn’t skim on facing the emotional turmoil of what happens when you have nothing to face but yourself in prison and there are some poignant moments that we see because of this. Some of those moments had a goon’s thug about to fail. Whooooo!
8. It’s hilarious – This show can be dark but it’s also funny as hell. So many quotables, like when Red says “All I wanted was to eat the chicken that is smarter than other chickens and to absorb its power.” Or Crazy Eyes’ poem. “I have been starved out, felt up, teased, stalked, threatened and called Taylor Swift.” It’s equally as funny as it’s heart-breaking and tragic. And that’s no small feat.
9. It’s in your face - “Orange” takes what makes us uncomfortable and throws it in our faces. The lives of these women are complicated and messy and in all shades of gray and OITNB shows it with no sugar-coating. It’s not “Oz” but it is crass and in your face.
If taking about race makes you cringe, well you gotta sit there and deal with a show where everyone’s social group and allegiances is based on their ethnicity and color. If nakedness makes you squirm, well you’ll see a naked body in the first 2 minutes of watching. And if sex between two women makes you uneasy, you’ll be treated with scenes where Love Pockets are breakfast and dinner.
And if you choose to watch it, you gotta deal. This might mean it’s not for everybody but I highly recommend it.
10. It’s just REALLY good - It just is! It’s smart, funny, compelling and just downright awesome.
If you haven’t watched Orange is the New Black yet, I’m actually jealous of you because you have a chance to watch it for the first time. And also, GO WATCH IT!
I’m looking forward to season 2 already and I gotta wait until 2014. ARGH!!! I need to get more of Chapman, Nicky, Alex, Pennsatucky, Red, Poussey, Taystee et al. I am SO ready!
Have you been watching this show? If so, do you love it? If you haven’t seen it, do you plan on catching it? Let a homie know!