Orange Is the New Black
Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama seriescreated by Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Tracey Takes On…) that was first released on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series revolves around Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling, Mercy), a bisexual woman, engaged to a man, living in New York City, who is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money to her former girlfriend who is an international drug smuggler. The offense occurred ten years prior to the start of the series, and in that time Chapman had moved on to a quiet law-abiding life among New York’s upper middle class.
The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with Lionsgate Television, is based on the memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison written by Piper Kerman which tells of her experiences in prison. The main cast includes:
- Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman: Piper is a bisexual woman who is sent to prison for carrying drug money for her former girlfriend, Alex, and navigates the stresses it creates in her life and with her fiancé Larry. While in prison, Piper tries to understand and find her place in the hierarchy and reexamines her relationship with Alex, who is also an inmate.
- Laura Prepon (That ’70s Show) as Alex Vause: Alex is a lesbian woman and Piper’s former girlfriend who is also serving time in the same prison.
- Michael J. Harney (Deadwood) as Sam Healy: Healy is a correctional officer and social worker. He claims to understand Piper, although he is passive-aggressive towards her.
- Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette: Piper’s roommate who is very strict and feared by the inmates. Miss Claudette ran an illegal immigration and child-labor cleaning service; the very one she herself had worked in when she came to the United States as a child to pay off her parents debt.
- Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager) as Galina “Red” Reznikov: Red runs the prison’s kitchen. She owned a restaurant with her husband and worked with the Russian mob. Red is the go-to woman in the prison and runs it behind the scenes. She is seen as a mother figure for a group of women, some of whom are former drug users.
- Jason Biggs (Mad Love) as Larry Bloom: A struggling writer trying to climb the journalism ladder, Larry finds out his fiancée, Piper, has to go to prison. Larry initially believes their relationship can make it through Piper’s sentence.
Hank Steuver, television critic for The Washington Post, gave Orange Is the New Black a perfect score. In his review of the series, he stated: “In Jenji Kohan’s magnificent and thoroughly engrossing new series, Orange Is the New Black, prison is still the pits. But it is also filled with the entire range of human emotion and stories, all of which are brought vividly to life in a world where a stick of gum could ignite either a romance or a death threat”.