Posted: 8/31/2013 | Written by Dominique Smith
Prison dramas often have a tendency to paint a gritty, ugly portrait of what it is like to have freedoms surrendered, necessities vanquished and complete system reboots of everyday lives. Netflix
launched its latest original series “Orange is the New Black” July 11 during the peak of summer to ease some of our heat stroke blues.
Based on the memoir written by Piper Kerman of the same name, the story, at times heartfelt, emotional and downright hilarious, is a not so pretty portrait of what a maximum-security women’s
prison is like.
Created by Jenji Kohan (Weeds), the show follows Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) who, at the age of 23, meets Alex Vause (Laura Prepon, “That 70s Show”).
Vause invites her into a world of international drug smuggling, but do not worry, it is not as bad as it sounds. After several months, Chapman leaves Vause and her life of crime behind.
The show transports the audience five years into the future, where Chapman finds out that she has been named in the drug ring and decides to surrender with the support of her soon to be fiancée, Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs, “American Pie”) and her best friend Polly Harper (Maria Dizzia).
As an upper class college graduate on the forefront of launching her own business and engagement, Chapman’s seemingly fantastic life is brought to a screeching halt, all
due to a previous romp in a past life.
As the former inmate makes her way back through the metal gates, everything becomes extraordinarily real. Her first real reality check happens when she discovers how divided prison is,
having her first meal with an intimidating crew and meeting the “mother hen” figure, Red (Kate Mulgrew), a scarlet-haired Russian woman.
Chapman decides to break the ice and confess to Red how unpleasant she finds the taste of the prison food.
Unfortunately for Chapman, she has now learned the hard way that you do not insult the prison chef to her face.
Theon – again inmate learns the new rules rather quickly (and usually the hard way), and her transition back into the prison life becomes a lot smoother – until she runs into Alex Vause.
Many people may feel that justice or karma is a re-occurring concept that will meet us again – but imagine being face to face with the person you believe to have named you, the person you believe has taken away your life.
Despite Vause trying to apologize, Chapman is unrelenting, and soon enough the pair is forced to accept that they must share the prison, despite what has happened in the past.
Fans who enjoy a gritty and raunchy story telling (as it is with shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “True Blood”) would greatly enjoy the 13-episode comedydrama.
The character development and rich emotion sheds a light on each of these women. It is a reminder that just because people are locked behind bard doesn’t mean they are just cold-hearted criminals.
The joys, anger, pain and love that we feel freely, are the same emotions inmates feel behind bars, but with their limited view, they are forced to creatively tap into these emotions.