The reviews about Netflix’s Orange is the New Black is unbelievable. The hashtags are flying, the new created Facebook pages are building, the forums, Tumblr blogs are being created about lead characters Piper and Alex are growing.
The book of the same name was written by Piper Chapman and is an autobiographical account of her younger self as she served a fifteen-month sentence at a low-level correctional facility. She pled guilty to criminal conspiracy for smuggling money ten years earlier for her ex-girlfriend, who was part of an international drug ring.
Emmy award-winning writer Jenji Kohan met Chapman at one of her book signings and immediately optioned the book. The end result is a yet another master class in writing, less than a year after her award-winning series, Weeds aired its last episode. It was developed and executive produced by Kohan and Lez Friedman.
I am surprised by the platform she choose to release it on. It’s a brave new world where the internet and Netflix reside. The relatively new format chosen by Netflix in its decision to release all episodes of their original programs at once has become a phenomenon.
Kohan has managed to create yet another complex and utterly entertaining volume of work. Characters are stripped down, explored, prodded and taken apart in each of the 13-episodes. Although based in Prison, OITNB is not a testimonial about female prisons or even about females in prison. It’s about the women locked up in the fictional Litchfield women’s prison.
What makes ‘Orange is the New Black’ so absolutely different is it does not focus on the stereotypical prison drama. There are no shower rapes, violent scenes or lesbian pushers, but right from the start open same-sex relationships among the women is widely accepted as a way of life.
The sexual tension from the onset between Piper (Taylor Schilling) and her former girlfriend, Alex (Laura Prepon) is one of the major storylines. The entanglement of the triangle between Piper’s finance, Alex and Piper is centre court worthy.
From lesbian to transgender, OITNB has portrayed queer women in all their forms, shapes and colours. The wide spectrum which is represented goes beyond the sexuality of the prisoners and generally showed queer women in positively.
Full of humor, heartbreak, drama and sexual tension OITNB is 13-episodes hour-long series packed with powerful women in a desperate situation that somehow pulls us willingly into the walls that bind them.
With a cast made up of some of the best actors in the business including the first transgendered actress Laverne Cox (Sophie) to act in a prison series, Kate Mulgrew (Red), Jason Biggs (Larry Bloom), Taryn Manning (Pennsatucky), Natasha Lyonne (Nicky) etc. Is it that surprising that Netflix renewed the series for a second season long before its first episode aired.
Season 1; 13 Episodes
Creator: Jenji Kohan
Executive Producers: Liz Friedman ans Jenji Kohan
Theme Song: “You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spektor
Production company: Lionsgate Television
The series will return in 2014.