I’ve been powering through NetFlix’s new TV show Orange Is The New Black. The show is about a woman in her early 30s, starting a new business, found the man to spend her life with, suddenly has to come to terms with mistakes from her past. Piper Chapman spent much of her early 20s in a relationship with Alex Vause, a beautiful drug smuggler. Vause fingers her as a money smuggler, and Chapman finds herself beginning a new life in prison.
The format for the show is to tell a story in present day prison, while flashing back to the story of how an inmate got into prison. The first episode obviously focuses on Chapman, and I figured the last episode would focus on Vause, but the writers seemed to have lost focus of this around the 9th or 10th episode. It got a bit muddled. The most interesting story being the third episode where we saw Sophia’s backstory. Sophia, a transgender woman who stole credit card info to gain funds for her surgeries and hormonal treatment. What made it accessible to us cis-gendered folks was that it was being told from the P.O.V. of Sophia’s wife.
I’d say one of the biggest downsides of the series is the story of Chapman’s fiancé, Larry. Larry is going through a shitty time. His wife-to-be is in prison, and her ex-girlfriend/crime-boss/person responsible for her imprisonment is with her. Larry’s dealing with some serious shit. Sadly the series mostly talks about him talking about it. We see him talking with Chapman’s brother, we see him getting published in the New York Times for an article about this, and we see him talk on NPR about this experience, but we rarely see him living this experience. The only time the viewer actually sees this is when Larry is in a pub flirting with the bartender.
Of the series, my favourite character is Red, who is expertly played by one of the worst parts of the entire history of Star Trek, Kate Mulgrew. Red is a Russian immigrant who runs the prison kitchen. Upon meeting Red, Chapman unknowingly insults her cooking. Red who controls the white people of the prison refuses to feed Chapman and serves her a dirty pad (see above). Chapman needs to find a way to get back into Red’s good books and thus begin eating again.
My second favourite character would be Crazy Eyes. Whose character throughout the series is constantly interesting. Her backstory isn’t revealed to an extreme, but the audience gets glimpses of her story, and it’s interesting. She’s also one of the most three-dimensional characters, but you don’t expect that at first. During the first few episodes, she’s just a nightmare, but we get more info on her as the show continues.