TV Review: Orange Is The New Black
Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is engaged to Larry (Jason Biggs). Her soap-making business she started with her best friend has products being carried at Barney’s department stores. She juices, eats clean, and happily buys her groceries at Wholefoods. Piper lives the ideal, suburban, preppy life. Piper Chapman is also going to prison to serve a 15-month sentence for a drug smuggling-related crime committed ten years prior for her then-girlfriend-lover. Based on Piper Kerman’s best-selling memoir of the same name, the 13-episode series documents Piper’s year spent at a lower-security federal prison.
“This is the most impressive group of female characters ever assembled in a series.” Los Angeles Times
An all-womens Oz prison drama? No, although there are at times moments of intensity. A LOL-inducing comedy? Yes and no. Orange Is The New Black is what one would expect and want from television creator Jenji Kohan, the woman responsible for the outrageously delicious dramedy Weeds. The show successfully fuses its comedic and dramatic storylines, but it’s the colorful characters and solid performances that are the driving force of this series.
The motley cast of standout characters include Piper’s former girlfriend Alex (Laura Prepon), prison “HBIC” inmate Red (Kate Mulgrew), resident loud-mouth Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), the Bible-touting “Pennsatucky” (frighteningly played by Taryn Manning), transgendered wife & mother Sophia (Laverne Cox), the hilarious “Crazy Eyes” stalker (Uzo Aduba) and the twerkalicious Taystee (Danielle Brooks). All of these characters along with many others of the series are so interesting and engaging to watch that they practically take turns equally stealing scenes from one another.
Orange Is The New Black does however belong to Taylor Schilling‘s Piper. Besides the Nicholas Sparks color-by-numbers film adaptation of The Lucky One, I had never seen or heard of Schilling before this. She wows as the series lead, and maintains a clear presence amid the other showy characters and flashy plotlines. Even when you know that her character is making a mistake, you still root for her unlike the many other series where you just roll your eyes and secretly want to see that character get punished.
“…if you are currently paying Netflix a fee, your membership just became more rewarding.” USA TODAY
I liked House of Cards, but wasn’t completely slayed. I just couldn’t get into Eli Roth’s deplorable Hemlock Grove. And I don’t necessarily count Arrested Development as a true Netflix original series. But even if I did, Orange Is The New Black trumps them all as the on-demand streaming service’s first original magnum opus. It’s got a whole lot of heart and soul, and is guaranteed to make you laugh. Orange Is The New Black is INDEED the new black!
Final Verdict: WATCH THIS!