Netflix Does It Again!

After the huge success of the political satire House of Cards and the Werewolf themed Hemlock Grove, both from Netflix, they’ve pulled it off yet again, with a prison based drama, Orange is the new Black. I make no secret of loving everything they’ve put out so far, and Netflix demonstrates to us all that they indeed have the Midas touch. It can of course be a gamble, financing your own show but they appear unstoppable, as they produce one hit after another, and to top it all off, House of Cards is in serious contention for an Emmy win. House of Cards had the wonderfully talented Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Orange is the new Black have Taylor Schilling (Argo) and Jason Biggs (American Pie) playing an engaged couple, Piper Chapman and Larry Bloom. Taylor Schilling has only been acting for 6 years but her performance in this prison drama is nothing short of brilliant, as she convincingly plays a woman who, after making a mistake 10 years previously, has now to leave her fiance and serve a 15 month sentence. Chapman is surrounded by some of the toughest and strangest female prisoners imaginable, and jail is not a good place to be a new fish out of water.

Orange is the new Black
Created for Netflix
by Jenji Kohan
Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs, Michelle Hurst and Kate Mulgrew
Release Date
11 July, 2013
Ed’s Grade: A

We start off this Piper Kerman, autobiographical memoir based show, by seeing Piper Chapman in the shower with her former lesbian lover, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), then she’s in the tub with fiance Larry. We then cut to her in a prison shower with a large built woman hurrying her out, who then starts to comment on her breasts. Now Piper and Larry are in bed trying to “make memories” for when she’s doing time, away from him and surrounded by women who fancy themselves as guys. The reason for her incarceration is doled out piecemeal in flashbacks, where we learn Piper fell in love with a woman who turned out to be a drug smuggler, and got her involved by asking her to take a suitcase full of money through French customs. Although Piper initially gets away with it, 10 years later it comes back to haunt her as the Connecticuter is sent to the women’s Litchfield, CT federal prison for fifteen months. How will she manage it and will she be the same when she comes out the other side?

With a truly mixed bag of actors, like Kate Mulgrew as Galina ‘Red’ Reznikov, Danielle Brooks as Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson, Michael Harney as Sam Healy and Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette, Chapman (as she must be addressed inside) has her work cut out for her, as she learns the do’s and don’t do’s of prison politics, and of course racism raises it’s ugly head, as does lesbianism and violence. There are some great touches of humour to keep it balanced, and it does work well. This is a very addictive programme, with a great story, a superb cast and some truly wonderful acting. Orange is the new Black has already been renewed for a second season, which is great news, because this is most definitely a show you want to see more of. A real winner in my books.

by Ed Blackadder