It’s 30 seconds in and I’ve already seen three different pairs of boobs. Yet somehow “Orange is the New Black” is a thought-provoking, entertaining and cutting-edge show — but don’t watch it with your parents. Unless you want to squirm while you watch two female inmates getting it on or hear derogatory remarks, just watch it by yourself. These aren’t the only characteristics of this Netflix original series, but be warned. Be prepared to see and hear more about racism, sex, abuse and drug use than you expected out of a TV show. These uncomfortable, harsh realities are what make “Orange is the New Black” so intriguing.
To serve her 15-month prison sentence Piper is forced to leave her cushy life in New York, with her writer-fiancé Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs). After she was named and convicted in an investigation of a drug ring that she was loosely tied with. This was during her “crazy” post-college phase when she had a girlfriend who was the leader of said drug ring.
The show is about much more than Piper having to go to prison, wear an orange jumpsuit and be bored for 15 months. It’s about relationships, owning up to one’s actions and the inevitable changes people go through.
What I admired about this show and what makes it so appealing to me are the losses and developments of relationships both inside and outside of prison. Whether she wants to or not, Piper has to interact with the other inmates even if she is terrified of them. She finds friends, lovers and enemies among the other women.
Her relationships change not only with the people inside of prison, but on the outside as well. Her priorities in life aren’t getting married, and earning money. Now she prioritizes getting enough to simply surviving her prison sentence. She would rather chase after an elusive chicken living in the prison yard because it would give her brownie points with the prison cook than talk to her family on the phone.
Her most notable relationships develop with the other white inmates, because of the self segregation and racism that are part of the prison social structure. Piper interacts with the other women from a former drug addict philosopher, a transvestite, a nun, a yoga instructor and a mentally unstable lesbian. Most importantly rekindling her relationship with her ex-girlfriend Alex. Who — plot twist — happens to be serving her sentence in the same prison.
Something that was especially well done in this show was making all the other characters as important as the main character, by using flashbacks and giving them their own stories in and out of prison.
Another thing that Piper and the other characters realize as the series progressed is that at some point you are going to have to own up to what you’ve done. Some of these are big things like breaking a law and going to federal prison, but some are small things like stealing a screw driver from the prison woodshop. This doesn’t just apply to the inmates, guards and administrators, but also to the people on the outside, who are influenced by the actions of the inmates.
Going right along with owning up are drastic changes of forming new and old relationships and the acceptance of past mistakes. As Piper changes, she decided what’s really important to her and the person she really is. This person is not what her family and friends think she is. They hold her up as this poor innocent women who was wrongly punished, but Piper knows she is no different than the other women in prison.
Change, acceptance, love, hate and friendship are part of the show that intertwine to form the binge-watching-inducing, sometimes cringe-worthy, at least-I-haven’t- messed-my-life-up-this- much show that is “Orange is the New Black”.