With a busy week ahead, I was determined to watch all 13 episodes of the newest Netflix offering this weekend. I’d heard only good things about this show and was intrigued by the premise. I made a wise choice. I absolutely loved this show. The show is based on a true story and Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name. The premise of the show is Piper has been sentenced to doing 15 months at a women’s prison in Litchfield, NY for her involvement in carrying drug money for her then girlfriend, Alex Vause. The show is about her time there, her fellow inmates and their overall story of having different backgrounds but sharing the common bond of being prisoners at the same time. Piper has a devoted fiance on the outside who is a writer and struggling with making ends meet. He stays faithful to her and is such a good guy (almost to the point of it being a fault, if you ask me) till he finds out that the ex-lover of Piper, the drug peddler is also in the same prison as she is. He gets a bit of shine when he starts talking and writing about having a fiance in jail and so starts problems in their relationships.
I’ve watched prison shows, female focused prison shows (Capadocia comes to mind) and this was refreshingly different. Most shows of this nature tend to have the overall vibe of being gritty and just very in your face. What makes OITNB different is that is has heart. It tells its story without distracting us with gruesome violence or gratuitous sex like most premium channels like to do. The first few minutes of the show does have some nudity and lesbian sex but I would say that was about the most we would see. In all 13 episodes, I’d say just about 30 minutes, if not less, had sex scenes. We get to see how Piper ends up in prison and the moments leading up to her turning herself in. As the story progresses we see how some of the inmates ended up there via flashbacks and I give kudos to those at the helm, for their seamless transitions from prison to back in time and back to the prison. It was very fluid and wasn’t disruptive to the storyline.
I have to say that as the show progressed, I really got irritated with the main character. She ended up being like many a cliche main character, who is self absorbed,entitled and never takes responsbility for anything and is always self righteous. There were a few moments where I wanted to slap her senseless. The show had so many heartfelt moments that made my heart smile. The top of the list being an inmate who made it out and was not able to say goodbye to her best friend on the inside, the love story between an inmate and a guard.
The show made me reinforce that I never, ever ever want to go to prison but it also gives you perspective. On paper, Piper is not someone you would ever peg to be in prison and so is the case for many of the inmates. As they show the flashbacks, you are reminded how life can change in just a few minutes and how one mistake or action can change your life forever. Most of the inmates, were just regular people who happened to make bad choices. The show is able to make you appreciate your freedom. It addresses the bureaucracy and politics in the prison system, social topics – there is a transgendered woman in the prison and her story is one of those profiled in the flashbacks. But they are all addressed so delicately and interwoven with comedy so finely that it’s just a pleasure for you as a viewer to watch.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this show as it was a great watch for me. The stand out acting for me would be from Pablo Schreiber who gives a fantastic villainous turn as prison guard, George Mendez. He harasses the inmates and smuggles in drugs and the like for them in exchange for oral sex. There are some familiar faces on here Taryn Manning (as meth head, Jesus freak Tiffany), Laura Prepon (as the ex lover Alex). I really couldn’t get over her harsh dye job and her very distracting eyebrows) and Natasha Lyonne (as ex junkie Nickie). I would list all my favorite characters but there were many. I do love how they were all divided into tribes – which was really by race – but you didn’t feel that racial tension. Anyways, I have so much more I could say but I think this about sums it up. It’s a great watch and I really enjoyed it. If you have watched it, what did you think?
PS Did anyone else notice that every time Piper was on the phone and someone was there, it was always that lady in a blue dress? Also, for ladies in prison, most of them had great eyebrows.