Orange is the New Black

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I’m by no means the first blogger to rave about this one, and I won’t be the last. But nevertheless, it deserves a shout out as the most addictive TV show I’ve found in years.

Available exclusively on the super-addictive subscription streaming service Netflix, OITNB is an American series based on the real memoir of Piper Kerman, who went to jail for an old, minor drug offence ten years after she committed it, completely turning her life upside down.

Creator Jenji Kohan’s writing is razor sharp and her vision is strong: it is the most vivid, diverse and hilarious cast of kickass females you’ve ever seen. Taking in a range of ages, races and backgrounds, you first get to know the prison hierarchy and tribes, and then as the series unfolds you gradually get to see how each woman ended up there. If you’re a musicals fan, this is like an extended, comedic Cell Block Tango.

The result is sex, drugs, delusion, scheming, violence and snort-tea-from-your-nostrils comedy. Every character is fascinating and likeable (even the out-and-out villains). Yes, there are some ‘yeurgh’ moments (see brutal beatings and public urination), but that’s prison, folks. It’s sexy and funny without even momentarily glamorising prison. Crime, maybe. There have been a few badass girl-criminal moments. And you do sometimes wish you could wreak revenge on those who have wronged you in the many stylish and creative ways the inmates do on the show. But there are also so many unexpectedly touching moments, from the families that form to the individual tragedies different characters have faced, and the moments of (sometimes literally) life-sustaining friendship.

The genius factor to this show, though, is the WASPy white-girl filter of lead character Piper that we see it all through. She gets some of the best lines and you find yourself simultaneously sympathetic to and tremendously irked by her. I’ve now whizzed through seasons one and two and the end of the latter crept up on me – I spent Saturday afternoon bleakly searching for season 3 once it dawned on me that Rosa speeding away in a van was the last I’d see of the girls for a while. Hurry back, OITNB, and stay just as beautiful and nuts as you were.

My three favourite OITNB backstories (spoiler free):
1. Morello
2. Crazy Eyes
3. Miss Claudette

What can I fill my Netflix void with until season three appears? Comment with your tips.

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