March 25, 2015

Joely Mitchell

OrangeistheNewBlackS3StartterminIntroducing the most lovable group of prison inmates.

The series follows Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling, who is best known for playing Zac Efron’s love interest in the 2012 film, The Lucky One), who is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money to her then girlfriend- Alex Vause (Laura Prepon from That ‘70s Show).

This all happened ten years before Chapman (they refer to all of the inmates by their surnames) was arrested. She had since moved on from Vause and was living a law abiding life in New York with financé, Larry (Jason Biggs, from American Pie, and yes, Chapman is bisexual). Chapman and Vause are reunited in prison and given the opportunity to reevaluate their relationship whilst learning what it takes to be a prisoner.

OITNB is a Netflix original show based on the book Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. The book describes the crimes that got her into prison and also what happened once she was there.

As you can probably imagine, it’s not an easy ride for her. She finds out very quickly that she is down the bottom of the prison hierarchy (and doing a very bad job of it). She accidentally badmouths the food in front of the prisoner who is not only head of the kitchen, but the lady at the top of the prison hierarchy (fair to say, she doesn’t eat for a while).

Life as a prisoner has its ups and downs for Chapman. She quickly learns how respect, trust and hard work will move you up the food chain and begins to make friends in the process. There are, of course, run ins with other inmates; she has to very delicately let down Suzanne (better known as Crazy Eyes, who is undoubtedly the funniest character in the show), who claims Chapman as her “prison wife”.


You soon start to discover more about each inmate’s personal lives and the crimes they have committed. Each episode is usually centred around one particular character, with flashback’s to their pre-prison life.

The show has been commended for being an inclusive and diverse representation of female inmates. All different races and sexual preferences are equally portrayed.

Whilst the inmates have each other for support, and their own jobs to keep them busy on a daily basis, they are under immense pressure from their oppressive and sometimes neglectful prison guards. And the higher up you go, the more oppressive and neglectful the people in charge can be.

OTINB is a unique adaption of what it’s like to be a modern day prisoner. There’s lesbian sex, smuggling contraband, dodgy prison guards, but most importantly, a significant focus on the development of relationships, inside and out of the prison.

Do yourself a favour and get on board. The third season will air in June this year, so you’ve got just under five months to catch up. But trust me, after the first couple of episodes, you won’t need longer than a week or two to get up to date.

– Joely Mitchell


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