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Review: Orange Is The New Black

Is it June 6th yet? The anticipation of the second season of Orange Is The New Black is overwhelming and I’m on pins and needles waiting to see the aftermath of the Piper and Pennsatucky showdown! Although this hiatus seems to have been longer than any other show I have ever watched, I gave the the book a shot to see how closely it matched up with the Netflix series. I knew from internet articles and interviews that the show was pretty different and from the beginning, it was clear that Piper Kerman (author/ Real Piper) and Piper Chapman (character) had a truly different experience. 

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Reading through the book, I anxiously waited for “Alex Voss” to make an appearance in the same facility as Piper. Page after page, I continued to become confused and disappointed that the estranged exes would not cross paths like they did in the show. When “Alex” did finally appear, there wasn’t this messy love story and in fact, they became allies for the short time period that they shared a cell.

One of the intriguing things about the show is the development of the characters; each with their own personality and story. Red, Tasty, Pennsatucky, Ms. Claudette, to name a few, have been really interesting to the overall drama. It’s great as viewers to be able to see prison through their eyes and experiences, not just from Piper’s point of view. 

Is it weird that they almost make life in prison seem like summer camp?!

The book also allows the reader to follow the growth and change of Piper’s fellow prisoners during her stay in lock down. I have especially enjoyed reading about the real “Red,” with her no-nonsense attitude and her superiority towards other inmates. It was almost gratifying to hear Piper talk about Red getting ready to be released and what she hoped her life would be like after many years away. I believe the book and the show do an excellent job in opening the door to the fact that, yes, these women have committed crimes but they are human beings too. Mothers, sisters, daughters, all of whom have done things that have brought them into this life.

I did just say that they are human beings locked in a prison together right? The show really capitalizes on this fact and portrays a constant sense that sexual relationships between inmates and correctional officers are happening around every corner. It even goes as far as showing encounters happening in places around the prison (even the chapel!). According to the real Piper and author of Orange Is The New Black (OITNB), although there were rumored love affairs, she never once saw any inmates engaging in any of those activities. It was almost as if she was shocked that more were not happening because of the misconceptions and portrayal of women in prison through the media.

Although there are many differences between both, the underlying question of OITNB is quite clear; how will these women survive in the real world once they get out of prison? Piper was lucky. She had family, job, and home waiting for her to come back to. Other inmates are not so fortunate and sadly, won’t recognize this new world they will encounter when they exit the prison gates. What will happen to these women? Hopefully we as viewers, will get some closure on this. 

I have closed the cover to Orange Is The New Black for now but I’m excited for the second season to begin. Granted, I know television series needs to be provocative and push the envelope to keep viewers engaged, my hope is to see new references and tales that Piper Kerman introduced to the readers.


2 thoughts on “Review: Orange Is The New Black

  1. I think the number of inmate-C.O. relationships that happen in real prison depends on the facility quite a bit. At one facility I was at, the cameras didn’t work, so that made things quite a bit easier for people. When I was in county jail before getting transferred to state, though, there were cameras everywhere so none of that happened. I just wrote a blog on 9 Things OITNB Got Right and I guess maybe I should’ve included that. The one thing I found completely absurd, though, was the idea that any C.O. would be dumb enough not to use protection. I know there are cases in which that has happened but it is incredibly rare.

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