Monday, 29 July 2013

Binge Watching: Orange is the New Black.

Orange is the New BlackPrisoner Cell Block H it ain't.

For the last few days I have been forced to stay home while I get over a bad dose of tonsilitis which under normal circumstances would lead to a major case of cabin fever. However, Netflix might just be my new BFF.
Orange is the New Black is a Netflix original dramedy from Jenji Kohan, the creator of Weeds, set in a U.S. women's prison. Based on the memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, the series tells the story of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) who ten years before the events of the first episode, carried drug money on an international flight for her lesbian lover who worked as a big time heroin dealer. By the time Piper is indicted for her offence she has totally turned her life around. She is now happily engaged to Larry (Jason Biggs) and starting an artisanal soap business with her best friend. Until she suddenly finds herself in prison for the offence she committed all those years ago. Alongside the lesbian lover, Alex (That 70's Show's Laura Prepon), who named her in her deposition. Naturally, Piper is a total fish out of water.

Kate Mulgrew (a.k.a. Captain Janeway) as Red.
Although Piper is the central character, Orange is the New Black has an impressive ensemble cast including Captain Janeway herself, Kate Mulgrew, as a tough Russian inmate named Red who runs the prison kitchen, Natasha Lyonne from Woody Allen's musical Everyone Says I Love You and the late nineties gem Slums of Beverley Hills, and Constance Shulman who voiced Patti Mayonnaise on Nickelodeon's Doug back in the day. It doesn't come much cooler than that, right?

Patti Mayonnaise and Constance Shulman.
Each episode contains flashbacks to an inmate's life outside of prison and goes at least some way to explaining how they came to be locked up. Some are inevitably more sympathetic than others but all are surprisingly believable. As the show's tagline suggests, every sentence is a story.
The characters range from the comedic to the downright hateful and all are played to perfection by the actors in the roles. Uzo Aduba as an inmate known as "Crazy Eyes" is a personal favourite of mine, closely followed by Danielle Brooks as "Taystee" and Yael Stone as Lorna Morello. I won't go into detail about their characters for fear of giving away any plotlines, but I can say that their performances are stand out in an amazingly strong supporting cast.

Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren.
As an added bonus, the show's theme song is by Regina Spektor. 'You've Got Time' was written by Spektor especially for the series and as you would expect from her, it's downright awesome.
I've read a lot lately predicting that the Netflix method of releasing an entire series at once for online streaming is the future of "televison." It certainly is great to be able to binge watch a show you love and I've been especially grateful for the distraction it has been for me over the past three days. So if you have access to Netflix, get on board the Orange is the New Black bandwagon. If you've got time...

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