Orange is the New Black Season 1

 

“The animals, the animals Trapped, trapped, trapped ’till the cage is full…” If you’re one of the five lesbians on the planet who still has not watched ‘Orange is the New Black’, the above are the opening lyrics to Regina Spektor’s ‘You’ve Got Time’, the theme song of the show. Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir by the same title, the series takes place at the Litchfield Correctional Facility, a women’s prison in Upstate New York.

 

 

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Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), the show’s protagonist, has been sentenced to serve fifteen months in federal prison. Ten years ago Piper was in a lesbian relationship with Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), an international drug smuggler. That was a long time ago and the bisexual Piper has gone on to become a law abiding citizen with a fiancé, Larry (Jason Biggs) and plans to start an “artisanal” lotion business with her best friend. However, this all comes to an abrupt pause when Piper is indicted for having transported drug money in a suitcase for her ex-girlfriend ten years ago.

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Crazy Eyes loses it on Alex

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The liberal, waspy, pretty blonde Piper now has to learn how to adapt to prison life, inmates and correctional officers; an experience very far removed from her privileged life. Part of her charm is how naïve and clueless Piper is in her new surroundings, but don’t be fooled; Piper is no dummy. In fact, with each new episode we learn just how resourceful, cunning and manipulative she can be. This is not to say she is a bad person, but she’s no victim either.

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While in prison Piper will have to contend with Red (Kate Mulgrew), the formidable Russian kitchen matron who serves her a used tampon in a biscuit after Piper thoughtlessly insults her food; Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba), an infatuated inmate who stalks her, writes bad poetry and sings to her about vanilla and chocolate swirl; her ornery and very strict neat-freak cellmate Miss Claudette (Michelle Hurst); Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), a psychotic tweaker who claims to be the spokesperson for Christ; and Surprise, Surprise! Her long lost ex Alex, who may or may not have named Piper in the indictment, is also in the same prison! And as if having to share the same space with those characters weren’t enough she also has to deal with Counselor Healy (Michael J. Harney), an insecure, lesbophobic, passive-aggressive jerk married to a Ukrainian mail-order bride. The bride doesn’t speak a word of English and is merely waiting to get her Green card so she can kick his sorry ass to the curb. Initially he comes off as a friendly and “protective” towards Piper, but the viewer can sense there’s something just….wrong about this man. By the end of season 1 we see what a cowardly and vindictive snake he truly is. There’s also Corrections Officer Mendez AKA Pornstache (Pablo Schreiber), a lewd perv who never misses an opportunity to feel up the inmates and exchange illegal drugs (which he brings into the prison) for sexual favors from some of the inmates.

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Although Piper Chapman is the main character and her relationship with her fiancé Larry and ex-girlfriend Alex is the central storyline, the supporting cast and their backstories are just as engrossing and affecting. There’s Sophia (Laverne Cox), a transgendered woman who in a previous life was a married fireman with a son before her sex change. Nicky, the lesbian junkie, neglected by her wealthy parents, who finds in Red a mother figure. Morello (Yael Stone), like Piper, engaged to be married to a man but carrying on an affair in prison with Nicky. Dayanara Diaz , who ends up serving time in the same prison as her mother Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez), and falls in love with the kindly Corrections Officer Bennett (Matt McGorry) . OITNB doesn’t shy away from casting light on the socioeconomic differences and racial lines and tribalism of the inmates. All the actors deliver outstanding performances. This original Netflix comedy-drama deserves all the accolades and plaudits it has received. At times poignant and also hilarious….I think my favorite episode was the one about the feral chicken. After the success of Showtime’s original series ‘Weed’ and now ‘Orange is the New Black’, the show’s creator and executive producer Jenji Kohan has proven herself yet again with another original and highly entertaining winner. Let’s hope there’s more of Alex and Piper in Seasons 2 and 3 (yes they’re already filming season 3!) and please please please let them be “lesbianing” together as Pennsatucky would say.

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