Review: Orange is the New Black

Review: Orange is the New Black

Netflix exclusive series Orange is the New Black is often funny, sometimes charming and painfully real.

Netflix seems to be on a roll. Not only has its exclusive series House of Cards been nominated for several Emmy awards, but it’s already making plans for new seasons of Arrested Development and Hemlock Grove. However, Netflix has hit an all-new high with its latest offering: Orange is the New Black.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started to watch this series. I expected a comedy, but got so much more. The story tells us about a young woman, Piper, who has made some mistakes in her life, including being involved with a lesbian drug dealer. Because of that involvement, Piper has to do some jail time. Orange is the New Black looks at what life is like in a women’s prison.

Orange is the New Black, though, is not just about Piper, but also about her fellow inmates. They, too, have all had lives where they’ve made bad choices – some because they had no other way out of difficult situations, others because of drugs, and others because they have nowhere else to go. The series shows us many of these women’s back stories. And those stories are all too real and all too true.

This honesty is not only due to amazing writing, but also to the actresses who portray the inmates. As Piper, Taylor Schilling shows off not only her comedy skills, but also some serious dramatic chops. Her character is a good example of the typical fish out of water, but eventually that fish becomes more like the land lovers every day. The acting of Schilling gives us a prime example of what prison can do to someone and how easily a spirit can be broken. Laura Prepon as Alex is equally as compelling to watch as Piper’s ex-girlfriend – this character could have easily been a caricature but Prepon gives her a great deal of depth.

The rest of the cast are equally as brilliant and it’s hard to believe that any of them are, in fact, actually acting. While watching, it’s hard to believe that they’re actors at all – they bring these women and their problems and truths to a light that’s painful to watch, although you’re unable to look away. I especially loved the performances of Michelle Hurst, Samira Wiley, Uzo Aduba and Taryn Manning. And obviously, as a Star Trek  fan, I have to mention Kate Mulgrew’s wonderful turn as a Russian ex-mobster, who runs the prison kitchen like it’s the military. Each and every one of the actresses who portray inmates are talented young women who have great careers ahead of them.

This is definitely one of those series that will gross you out, make you laugh, make you cry, make you shout and make you want more. And considering the major cliffhanger ending, be assured that a second season is in the works. This is the show that cable networks need to fear, because it’s not only better than anything currently being offered on network television, it’s also different, raw and real.

To sum up, Orange is the New Black is the only show you need to be watching right now.

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