Why “Orange is the new Black” Is Everything I Want In A Show

When you reserve an entire day for watching TV – whether it be due to a hangover or just because – it’s good to have a list of shows ready.
On Monday I had one of those days and the top show on my list was Orange is the new Black.
I didn’t know anything about it but what the poster told me but the poster did well – I was hooked from first glance. The premise seemed pretty awesome.

It took a while to convince my mother to watch a show about women in prison. She’s a romantic-comedy-middle-aged-woman. The blatant lack of men in the show is a huge negative on her score.
However, to me this was everything I’ve wanted for a long time.

A quick summary:

Piper Chapman is engaged to the man of her dreams and despite a somewhat tight economic situation she’s on her way to the good life.
That is, until she’s named as part of the inner circle of a drug cartel and is sentenced to 13 months in prison.
She transported a suitcase with some money once ten years ago and now has to suffer for what she did as an adventurous youngster.
By the way: her ex-girlfriend is in prison with her.

This show has an overall serious tone and discusses morals and ethics and who the good and the bad guys really are. Every sentence is a story – and every woman in this prison has one.
It is also hilarious. Watching the inmates do the best they can to have a good time results in awesome comic relief that is much needed in their tight world.
In no particular order these are the reasons that OITNB is everything I want in a show and is right up there playing with the bad boys like Madmen, Firefly, Game of thrones and Breaking Bad.

1) Every sentence is a story. And it’s a serious story. Some of these women are in for doing virtually nothing while others should probably never be released both for the good of themselves and others. This is prison. There’s no bullshit High-school drama (Can you say “MTV Awkward.”?) Where every other show tends to over-dramatize I have a feeling that this show could make things even worse. This is one of those stories where I really do believe that things are as bad as they appear.
2) The show is bucketful of strong women. They’re individual characters, not cardboard stereotypes. Sure, there are stereotypes but the show allows us to get under the skin of the characters and see that it’s mostly a façade. These women look out for themselves and though it may not be in the most responsible or rational ways at least they’re trying. And you’ve got to give them credit for the shit they take from officers. (Particularly the character we love to hate: Pornstache aka. Mendez.)
3) There’s a huge development in Piper Chapman. I’ve watched a lot of shows now where it seems that the first episodes have a lot of strength before development drops into the trash and the characters remain the same forever. Not here.
4) The conflict is realistic. No melodrama. It’s prison!
5) Generally good dialogue, pacing and build-up. I’m afraid this might turn out to be a classic “first season was amazing but then it gradually failed.” But as long as they don’t take it for ten seasons we should be good. Each episode is 50 min and 1 season is 13 episodes so 4 seasons should do – max! I like a tight show as opposed to an expansive show. Quality over quantity.
6) The intro.

Have you watched Orange is the new Black? Is the lesbianism problematic for you? Do you know enough about prison life to say whether it’s a realistic or unrealistic representation?

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