This year has seen the emergence of online streaming drama to the mass market in the form of Netflix streaming website producing some original dramas exclusively for the website. One of those shows was Orange is the New Black starring Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One), Laura Prepon, Jason Biggs (American Pie series) and Kate Mulgrew (that’s right Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager). The series is based on the real life story of Piper Chapman, an educated woman in her thirties who is sentenced to 15 months for a crime she committed 10 years previously. After just graduating from college, she embarked on a lesbian affair and her partner was a drug smuggler: as she transported money for her a couple of times, Piper is named as a conspirator and so is sentenced to jail.
After watching the first few episodes courtesy of my friend’s Netflix account, I was hooked and needed to watch the rest of the series. It’s all available exclusively on Netflix and its 13 episode season is a fantastic black comedy that will make you laugh but also sympathise with the characters in the show. Piper faces a rather tough road in the prison as it made clear to her that she is the most educated inmate there; she discovers that her ex lesbian lover is also in prison with her, makes enemies by slating the food of the Russian woman who runs the kitchen and becomes the prison wife of another inmate. Not to mention she has left her fiancée Larry on the outside world The series tackles over-arching storylines such as the supply of drugs that are being brought into the prison, the bad management of its warden and the guards and casual racism that some of the inmates face from both other prisoners and staff.
As well as the show focusing on Piper’s journey, there are also some great characters that episodes focus on, each with their own distinct personality. Several episodes focus on a different character, using flashbacks to tell how they came to be in prison and what their life was like before. It demonstrates the struggles these women face, but also the connections they make within the prison, which is often quite nicely played by the actresses in the show.
A second season has already been commissioned by Netflix, with season 2 being available probably around summer 2014. At the moment, UK Netflix is offering a free monthly trial, and the subscription to the website is only £4.99. It does offer various TV shows and films to stream so it is good value for money. Even if you get the free one month subscription, it’s enough time for you to watch this show. It’s not to be missed!
“No, No, no I didn’t. I mean she told me how she travelled after college but she failed to tell me about the lesbian lover who ran an international drug smuggling ring. Imagine my surprise.” (Larry, Orange is the New Black 1.1)