Orange Is The New Black, you’ve probably heard, is a new Netflix produced series about a middle class woman, Piper Chapman portrayed by Taylor Schilling, who gets sent to prison for harboring drug money across country borders ten years prior. Piper ran the drug money because she was young, dating a girl (Alex Vause played by Laura Prepon) who was a drug dealer and got a rush out of being bad. When we meet her ten years after the incident she is engaged to Larry Bloom portrayed by Jason Biggs.
Many, including myself, were put off by the show’s premise because it seemed centered around the idea that, “Isn’t this wacky?! Middle class white people don’t go to jail, CRAZY!” That take is pretty obnoxious and difficult to empathize with. It’s not a surprising premise either since the show is by Jenji Kohan who created Weeds, a show centered around the premise, “Isn’t this wacky?! Middle class white ladies don’t sell drugs!”
Truthfully, it is incredibly difficult to empathize with the lead character, Piper Chapman, as she is entitled, drama-seeking, selfish and initially believes she isn’t like the other people in prison despite the fact that she is undoubtedly guilty of her crime. However, Orange Is The New Black is much more than a “brat learns about privilege” storyline. The show features a massive ensemble cast of all different kinds of women and almost exclusively women. There are Latinos, African Americans, Whites, trans-women, lesbian women, bisexual women, older women, younger women, immigrants and everything in between.
Each character gets their own episode in which we learn about their lives prior to their prison sentences. The show is incredibly successful at not trying to justify the nefarious actions of these women but seeking to understand them. The show is empowering, funny but not shy of drama.
Here are 5 reasons you need to watch this show besides the fact that everybody else already has.
1. Kate Mulgrew who played Captain Janeway, the only female captain in the Star Trek series portrays a clever, scheming Russian woman who has complete control of the kitchen and thus, is the Queen Bee of minimum security prison.
2. There is a laughably bigoted prison guard who actually believes the dumb shit he says is true.
3. There is a transwoman with an incredible episode (the third of the season) who will break your heart and your face. What’s even better is that she is portrayed by an actual transwoman named Laverne Cox.
4. Like I said the cast is very diverse, I mean, just take a look at all the ladies below.
5. Regina Spektor performs the original theme song, I am not a fan of hers, but damn is this song catchy.
6. Bonus reason to watch Orange Is The New Black: All of these gifs and quotes!