Orange is the New Black

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For those who have had any contact with corrections, they would understand that if anything needs a comedic touch it’s the prison genre.  Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange is the New Black, which describes her year in federal prison, the new Netflix original series is a refreshing and more accurate portrayal than its hard-edged predecessors. The series triumphs because it illustrates the different characteristics of each female inmate and goes back to trace why they ended up in prison.  Through these flashbacks we get the sense that, if entangled in the same set of circumstances, could we suffer the same fate?

 In the series Piper is a fresh faced blond, who should be going to ugly sweater parties and starting her own line of soaps (which she is actually in the process of ) not doing a stint in federal prison.  The series comes from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan and features Natasha Lyonne, (who has had a comeback of sorts with recent appearances on Weeds, New Girl, and the upcoming Girl Most Likely), and Laura Prepon (That 70’s Show).  The series also looks at the dynamics of the prison staff who are just as interesting as the prisoners themselves.

 From perverts to guards who actually care about the people they are supposedly “correcting,” the world of confinement is a distorted place where everyone is trying to grasp onto aspects of what little power they have.  A particular story line about a young guard falling for an inmate is refreshing.  In this instance the relationship is not just about sex, and we see how (in the underworld of the prison system) such a relationship can exist.  It’s not always about the pervert guard taking advantage of inmates, although sordid and inappropriate– prison relationships are a reality of confinement.

The entire series is now streaming on Netflix, skip Hemlock Grove and binge on Orange and House of Cards.

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