Orange is the New Black is one of a number of recent Netflix original series. The entire series premiered on July 11th 2013 via Netflix streaming. For those unacquainted with this new form of serial entertainment, in 2012 Netflix began financing original content to be provided as part of their streaming service. One of the more interesting features of this format is that the entire series is released on the same day, allowing viewers to take in the material at whatever rate they wish. Orange stars Taylor Shilling as Piper Chapman and Laura Prepon as Alex Vause.
With the second season of this series coming shortly, I found myself really looking forward to the release more than I thought I would. This generally only happens for me with genre series so, I figured it might be a good idea to share some of my thoughts on the first season. The central character of the series is Piper Chapman, played remarkably well by Taylor Shilling. As the series opens we see her with her fiancé Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs) in the process of Piper surrendering herself at a prison to serve a 15 month sentence for a 12 year old drug trafficking offense. Once Piper is processed, the series follows her life as she adapts to her new environment. This becomes complicated due to the presence at the same facility of Alex, who we quickly learn was the drug dealer that not only caused Piper's current problems but was Piper's former lesbian lover as well. While the series is advertised as a comedy drama, I personally view it more as a straight up dramatic series with comedic elements.
Given the large cast of characters, there is a good amount of exposition to get through and the series handles it, in a manner reminiscent of the first season of Lost, through the use of flashbacks. This works for Orange as well as it did in Lost. All of the characters have interesting and sometimes tragic backgrounds but the one character that really stood out for me was a holy roller called Pennsatucky, marvelously played by Taryn Manning. Her back story is filled with some extremely dark humor that at the same time takes to task one of the directions America seems to be heading in.
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