From the creator of Weeds comes a heartbreaking and hilarious new series set in a women’s prison. Piper trades her comfortable life for an orange jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.
Loosely based on the memoir of the same name, Orange Is The New Black (OITNB) is the new Netflix Original. And in case you are wondering whether this is more of a House of Cards or a Hemlock Grove, the answer is definitely the the former. Better, even.
OITNB initially centers itself around main character Piper Chapman, a privileged white woman who has to spend a year in fictional Litchfield federal prison (due to old drug charges during an “adventurous phase.”) But Litchfield gives us a large and diverse ensemble of interesting women and their stories. And despite doing a fairly decent job at highlighting how fucking miserable women’s prison is, the show manages to be hilarious and keep its sense of humor.
Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman
Taylor is best known for being in that terrible Ayn Rand movie and a sexy shower scene with Zac Efron. She plays Piper, the show’s main character, who is probably the least compelling character on the show. She’s obnoxious and naive, but works well as a point of entry to the prison world.
Laura Prepon as Alex Vause
Hey, it’s Donna from That ‘70s Show! Laura plays Alex, Piper’s ex-girlfriend, former drug smuggler and current inmate.
Kate Mulgrew as Red
Captain Janeway! Kate is almost unrecognizable as the former Russian mob-wife and current matriarch of the prison kitchen.
Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset
Laverne is best known for her reality work on VH1. She plays a transgender woman at the prison and is easily my favorite character. Her story is so compelling and heart wrenching. And the internet has discussed this to death, but it’s pretty amazing to see a transgender actress and character in such a popular show.
Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols
Natasha has been in a million things since American Pie, though that is still probably what she’s most recognized for. She plays a lesbian junkie and is wonderful.
Jason Biggs as Larry Bloom
Oh poor Jason Biggs. He plays Piper’s sad-sack fiancé. And because this is Jason Biggs we’re talking about, you better believe he was given a awkward masturbation scene. (Of all the things you can get typecast for in Hollywood, person who masturbates has to be a rough one. No pun intended!)
There are still many other characters who I didn’t mention, both famous and not-so-much. In fact, some of the best characters I didn’t mention at all (because 1. I would end up going on forever and 2. The actresses playing them aren’t very well known. At least not yet!)
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
This is definitely a show that can be enjoyed with friends. But since it only exists in the too-tempting world of Netflix Instant, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to prevent yourself from some amount of episode bingeing. So it’s probably best viewed with partners or roommates (basically people you have immediate access to and don’t have to wait around for.) Also, this show is graphic. So keep that in mind before you watch it with say…your parents. (I mean, I don’t know your parents. Maybe they’re the kind of people who are really chill about viewing dramatized cunnilingus with you.)
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Low
I see most people wanting to keep sober for their first run through. But the game does have serious drinking game potential upon re-watch!
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Required!
Well, in the literal sense, a Netflix account is required, because this is a Netflix Original and therefore not available on any other format. But this is also required viewing for any TV lovers out there. I mean, the entire internet can’t seem to stop talking about it, so at the very least you’ll want to watch to keep yourself in the loop. But also, this show is hilarious, raw, upsetting and all sorts of other adjectives that make for good, compelling tv viewing. So please go and make this show your prison wife ASAP. And for those of who already did, I’ll meet you in the comments below for the inevitable OITNB gushing.