Things I love TV: Orange is the New Black
All of my US readers will think I'm SO late to the party, whereas many readers from other countries will either exclaim, "oh God, I love it so much too!" or wonder, "what's that?" I'm especially glad for the latter - if I manage to inspire someone to watch Orange is the New Black, I'll have a reason to really be proud of myself today.
I discovered Orange is the New Black when I read a Cosmo interview with Piper Kerman, the woman behind this TV masterpiece (and they say magazines aren't educational!). She's the one sharing her real-life story, or at least the story of OITNB lead character Piper Chapman, who falls in love with Alex, a international drug dealer queen, and helps her carry a bag full of drug money across a country border. Fast-forward ten years: Piper and Alex have long broken up and Piper lives with her fiancé, Larry...when Alex is jailed and drags Piper down with her, resulting in fifteen months at a women's prison...where Piper has to see Alex every day.
I love this show because it doesn't depict prison as a gloomy, dark dungeon of despair, but (quite realistically, I imagine) an awful place where, despite it all, friendships are born and bonding happens. Some things border on the unrealistic (only male guards in an all-female prison?), but some others are painfully so: Piper's snotty mother and nauseatingly selfish pregnant best friend and business partner's visits, the "aawww" cutesy phone calls between Piper and Larry and the flashbacks of Piper's seemingly perfect pre-jail life.
Apart from some elements of scathing racism (when five representatives are to be chosen for a women's council, the inmates vote in groups divided by race; not very 2013), the inmates seem like a tight-knit family, screaming fights and all. There are love stories: Lorna Marello is engaged to a man but indulges in sex with fellow inmate Nicky, refusing to face the facts about her sexuality; a kooky character known as Crazy Eyes (one of the best actresses on the show) makes moves on Piper; and Alex seems to never have gotten over her. But my favourite romance on OITNB is the one between inmate Daya and guard John Bennett. I so want them to stay together! They're the most adorable thing. Their secret love notes and hookups in the utility closet are a glimmer of hope in a world where people get served used tampons in sandwiches and pee on each other's room floors (please don't be deterred from watching just because I just wrote that). I really hope nothing comes between Daya and John - not even Daya's psycho mother, fellow inmate Aleida.
Everyone's acting is absolutely stellar - I'm obsessed with Taylor Schilling, the actress playing Piper Chapman. I LOVE her. I think she's an insanely amazing actress and incredibly gorgeous, even in prison clothes! There are a few familiar faces - Laura Prepon from That 70s Show plays Alex, Taryn Manning, whom I best remember from 8 Mile and Crazy/Beautiful, two movies I loved about ten years ago plays the ultra-religious Tiffany, and there's an American Pie reunion: Natasha Lyonne as Nicky and Jason Biggs as Piper's fiancé Larry. I love Danielle Brooks as the sassy Taystee, Pablo Schreiber as the most devilish of the guards, George Mendez, and Kate Mulgrew, who mastered a perfect Russian accent to play kitchen boss Red. I also love Laverne Cox as Sophia, previously Marcus - I think it's great that they have a transsexual woman on the show. One of the things that makes this show special is that every episode has little stories woven in about a different inmate and how they ended up in jail. It really makes you feel like you know them. I actually miss them if I don't watch it for a few days.
...and I love the fact that they have yoga in prison. Makes me feel reassured just in case I ever steal a Falabella bag (kidding...or am I?)
A really memorable Piper, Alex and Crazy Eyes scene!
Filed Under: things I love