This series on Netflix is quite a powerful one. It starts with Piper Chapman going to prison willingly for having transporting drugs with her friend, Alex Vause. This has been quite a while ago and in the meantime, Piper has broken up with Alex and started a new life with a man whom she is now engaged to.
Piper Chapman is based on a real person, most of the characters are too. Piper was an actual inmate and what happens inside is the real deal, though I’m sure lots of it is -at least a bit- romanticised aswell.
The series stars are Taylor Schilling as Chapman, who is very good at putting up a desperate, innocent face. Excellent for a newbie in prisonhood, I gotta say. Further more Laura Prepon, Uzo Aduba (who is effing great! Really, WOW!), Michael Harney (the big, sad looking Droopy dog, who you can’t help wanting to throw a bone at, every now and then, just to comfort him), Lea DeLaria (bloody funny), Kate Mulgrew (again: WOW! Ace play in every way, angry or loving, awardingly stunning), Natasha Lyonne (reminds me a bit of Rizzo from Grease, somehow; big mouth, tiny heart), Yael Stone, Jessica Pimentel, Laverne Cox (Fashion Police inside prison. At least, at first sight), Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley (sweet bookworm), Nick Sandow and Annie Golden. That last one, who plays Norma, is especially worth mentioning, as she is an important part of the group, but secretly doesn’t speak until…well, when she does. Meanwhile, everybody knows her. You too. You keep seeing her. You don’t notice she doesn’t speak until the moment she does.
The first season shows Piper who is trying to survive prisonhood. As an inmate of a -sort of- light crime, she doesn’t want any trouble, as most new inmates probably would like, but prisonlife simply doesn’t lend itself for that attitude.
Orange Is The New Black shows the viewer that in prison, the law is no longer with you. You’re part of a zoo with the other inmates there to make the rules for you. Make that laws. Telling on others will get you into trouble and there is no protection. I think that’s the most important message this series send out. Why prison is shit.
The first season also shows quite a lot of girl-on-girl-sex. In such a way, it bores quite quickly actually. Like all of them are lesbians, or you become as such, just being bored and think ‘oh, what the heck’. Though I’m sure it was great for the viewers rate somehow, it did get old quite quickly. Or maybe I’m just not lesbian enough, I don’t know 😉
The second season starts with showing what exactly happens when the course of the lawsuit against you, proceeds. And how ill informed you can feel as an inmate when this happens. Given that I insist on not throwing spoilers in here -there’s enough of that on social media anyway- I’ll just state that given how season 1 ends, you as a viewer are also put on the wrong leg in season 2. Excellent, of course, because this is what you want to know. How does it work when you’re in prison? If you’re in the outside world, people, especially government people, are obliged to inform you what they are about to do. It is normal to get answers too. When you’re in trouble already, this changes.
This season has its dull/slow moments, but overall it’s exciting and keeps you on your toes regularly.
The third season, however, is though well acted (never a problem there, to be honest) not all that ‘hot’.
And I don’t mean the sex. There’s loads of slow moments in it. Red and Healy having a moment is sweet and does make it possible to slow down a bit without getting bored, but especially things between Piper and Alex, throughout the series, is very ‘Ross & Rachel’ at times. Utterly boring. They’re stuck with each other and they hate it, but being in prison kind of makes it impossible NOT to run into each other and get either mad with rage or frustrated with wanting to talk it over. You already saw Friends, you don’t need that kind of reliving.
The fourth season is picking up the pieces that were loose balls, thankfully.
Not a dull moment in that one.
It does, however, lack the angry, personal emotions that were still there in season 1 and 2. Season 3 ended in a way that made Piper look tough for a change, but for the fourth season they apparently had a change of heart. It’s also a bit weird to see the cast in a different shape. Like they’ve ages enormously in just 5 minutes. Boo suddenly dropped quite some weight and girls that seemed harsh and inhumane, suddenly soften up. It helps that an inmate who was away for some time, returns and makes jokes about it, as it really is undeniable.
I’ll give them that.
Then again, the season has a storyline that will give you the shivers at times. It shows the inmates as groups, perhaps that’s why on personal level, they’re suddenly less agressive towards newbies.
It also shows what happens when budget cuts happen in prison. That it means less care and less human acting against prisoners. And that it’s never the ‘right one’ to suffer from these consequences. That warders play by their own rules if they see fit and that their opinion about prisoners is quite different from what these prisoners are used to with Caputo, the director.
Who has grown up by now. Well, in ways of caring. Before, he actually had time to jerk off, now he is happy if he can spend about 5 minutes behind his desk to clear up the mess that’s been left by his new warders.
In season 1 there’s already a warder that wasn’t quite clean, in season 4 it really gets very ugly.
All seasons have an excellent cliffhanger to them, but I personally most liked the one presented in season 3. Because it makes you feel happy along with them.