My first introduction to Orange is the New Black was at 4am on a Saturday night (Sunday morning) while inebriated. I had heard so much about it and thought it would be an appropriate time to dive in. I wasn’t a fan. Jason Biggs? Wow, I haven’t seen him in a dogs age. He still wears his hair like that? Why hasn’t anyone found a suitable haircut for him? It’s been 10 years and he still has that little Jew-fro thing going on. Whoa! Donna’s boob, where’s Eric when you need him, he would have really appreciated this. I wish “That 70s Show” was still on, I loved that show. Eric’s basement? Classic. I think I’m going to watch “That 70s Show” right now.
Incapable of moving the next day, I decided to give OITNB another chance. This was probably one of the better decisions I’ve made in my television life. The original Netflix series takes us through the trials and tribulations of a women’s federal prison in New York with a focus on a particular inmate, Piper Chapman. If I were to ever have smoked crack, I think this show would be comparable to that experience. I couldn’t stop watching, I felt like if I didn’t find out what happened and how everyone ended up in Prison, I was doing myself a disservice. I needed this information to live. This mostly female cast is so carefully orchestrated you really can’t imagine a better ensemble. And the few men that there are, really make it count.
The series is based around Piper, however her story would be nothing without her fellow inmates (including her ex, Alex), fiance Larry, and fucked up Correctional Officers(Pornstache and Healy). Most of the focus throughout the series is on Alex (the ex girlfriend) who coincidentally enough, is in the same facility as Piper. They met when they were in their early twenties and Alex spoiled the shit out of her with trips around the world, continuous vacations, and gifts galore. Later, we find out it was because Alex was in charge of a drug operation and eventually had Piper involved with transporting the money. About 8 years after they were busted, the crime came back to haunt them both and that’s how they ended up together again, in prison.
One of the more fascinating aspects of the show is its sad truth behind the time warp you enter while in the facility. It may be the twenty-first century outside , but inside you’ve traveled back into time. Racism, sexism, and secularism are just big elephants in the room that everyone has no option but to ignore. Inmates have no ground to stand on to debate the issues so they embrace it. Comparable to high school, the inmates have grouped themselves by race and within race, religion. They prefer to look at it as belonging to a ”tribe” and having pride in the “tribe” is just something everyone does. This plays into the bigger theme of the series of being “stripped”. You’re stripped from your rights, opinions, and all outside distractions. The only thing these prisoners have is their thoughts which in some cases, transforms a character.
“I’m scared that I’m not myself in here, and I’m scared that I am.”- Piper Chapman. In my opinion, the most powerful statement of the season. Throughout the entire season, I tried to envision myself as a prisoner. I’d like to think that I’d put a dent into ending the racism, or raise awareness of sexual harassment in prison. But the reality of the situation is that I’d probably be a pussy. I wouldn’t want to cause a scene and be the inmate that doesn’t get invited to the party of another inmate’s release. I’d probably try to stay under the radar as much as possible. I want to think that I’d be myself in there but I know I’d be scared shitless. But maybe that’s who I am? Maybe I’m scared shitless regardless of where I am. My naivety has gotten me in trouble in the past and I’m sure it would in prison. I’d try to justify every felony that my fellow inmates committed. Maybe I’ll always try to see the good in people no matter how bad they are. Envisioning myself in prison should not be surfacing these thoughts but that’s what prison does. It forces you to face your biggest demon, yourself.
I know Alex named Piper but I still have a soft spot for her. Piper broke her, and left her at a time
in need so obviously there’s some resentment there. Maybe in her sick and twisted mind she thought if she was going to have to go to prison, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad to go with a person you were once in love with. Sick, right? But there’s something about their relationship that is completely comfortable and genuine. Something that makes the viewer wonder how their relationship could get to where it did? Something that makes you wonder if Piper really is going to ever love Larry as much as she loved/loves Alex?
Will we even know what happens with Alex and Piper? I NEED THESE QUESTIONS ANSWERED. Rumors have been circulating that Laura Prepon (Alex) will not be returning for season two and I’m really hoping this isn’t true. If Laura knew what was good for her, she would stick with OITNB because let’s be honest, her stint on “Are you there Chelsea?” wouldn’t be classified as ‘successful’. Regardless of who is a part of the ensemble for Season two, I’m sure it will not disappoint. The real decision to be made when season two is released is whether or not to control myself and spread out the viewing, or binge watch it in a weekend (probably the latter).