So, you’ve been hearing about this Netflix show, “Orange Is the New Black.” Whispers in the workplace hallways about “chocolate and vanilla… swirl.” You keep seeing pictures of women in orange or taupe scrubs. People at Starbucks keep referencing someone named “Piper” and her sorta-kinda-love-hate girlfriend “Alex” and bemoaning the fact that one of them won’t be around much in Season 2. One actress reminds you of a dark-haired version of that girl that was on “That 70s Show.” And you don’t have Netflix, so you don’t care.
But you should.
What do you need to know about this show, and why should you watch it? To be honest, a released-all-at-once season of a television show keeps writers like this one from figuring out the best way to recap and review a show. And that is a blessing and a curse, because we’re all used to weekly installments slow-cooking our show love. Instead, we get it all at once, an amazing all-you-can-eat buffet that leaves us choking on great stories and trying to figure out how to explain it all to a hungry bystander.
So now (to extend the metaphor juuust a little more) that we’ve digested “OINTB,” here are some things you should know about the show, and why you should bite the Netflix bullet and subscribe. It’s completely worth it, because these kinds of all-at-once shows, available only online, like the new season of “Arrested Development” and the Emmy-nominated “House of Cards” are going to change the way you watch and respond to TV, just like the DVR did, and just like cable shows did before that.
So, why should you watch “Orange is the New Black”?
1. It will make you question everything you think about serving time.
Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling
) is a “good” girl. A good, white, upper-middle-class girl living in Manhattan, planning a wedding to a goofy writer (Jason Biggs
). But like we all do, she made some stupid choices in the name of love when she was younger. And they caught up to her, in the form of a jail sentence, unfortunately. But that fall from grace may be the best thing that ever happened to Piper, because she confronts a lot of demons in there. Because, like you perhaps, she just couldn’t be like “those people” in jail. And you could say “it’s a TV show; it’s fiction!” To that, we introduce you to Piper Kiernan
. How much is real and how much is fiction? We don’t really care, frankly.
2. The line “I threw my pie for you” is perfect for Thanksgiving, and that’s just around the corner. And when you find out the line was said by a woman nicknamed “Crazy Eyes” while trying to woo Piper, it will make your Thanksgiving quote drop even more meaningful. That same woman also said the “chocolate and vanilla swirl” line, too. Just google that, and see what happens. Which leads us to…
3. Yes, there are a lot of discussions about race relations and lesbians.
It’s a lot of women, locked up, together. And yes, Piper is in jail for helping out an old girlfriend, Alex, who is played by Laura Prepon
of “That 70s Show” fame. Piper was a lesbian, but she’s not now, or at least she doesn’t think she is. Trying to figure that part of her life out isn’t made easier by a lonely fiance on the outside or a tempting Alex with her on the inside.
4. You liked Nick Sobotka on “The Wire.” Pablo Schreiber
has a great new pornstache, and he’s a creepy prison guard. A suffering from low self-esteem, abusive breathtaking creep. He, like the women he’s “guarding,” have issues, but unlike them, he doesn’t realize it.
5. You have a thing for doomed love stories involving gum. Inmate Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco) and prison guard Bennett (Matt McGorry) may just be perfect for each other, but really, they aren’t. They’re both starved for love and they have nowhere else to turn. This quietly beautiful relationship grows out of desperation and fear, and you can’t figure out how it could possibly end well.
6. A large and incredibly talented cast of (mostly) women
: Piper isn’t in jail alone, and she’s not in jail with people “like her,” as she would say (at least at first). She’s in jail with a wide variety of women, most of them from a decidedly different demographic. All of them are facing their demons and life choices as best they can with what they have. Now here’s the TV geek part: these actresses are submerged in these characters and this show. You’ve heard of some of them (Taryn Manning
, Kate Mulgrew
, Natasha Lyonne
) but most, you haven’t. You’ll start scouring IMDB.com to find out more about these no-namers because they’re just.that.good. Yael Stone, Michelle Hurst, Dascha Polanco, Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Samira Wiley, Laverne Cox
, we’re looking at you, and we’d like to have you over for dinner.
7. That same cast has a thing for social media. See here, for instance.
And they’re funny. And they’re good to their fans, who also have a thing for social media. (See here.
). They retweet stuff, put up funny Vines, and seem to be having a serious party while making some heartwrenching television. It is refreshing to see a cast so giddy over their success. And Laverne Cox, you can do a mean Tina Turner.
Just like Piper, you have time to kill. Get on Netflix. Watch this show. That way you can chime in at Starbucks too.