Orange is the New Black

Orange is the new Black – a series based on the book of Piper Kerman Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison (2010). The premiere of the series took place in 2013. The recent fifth season was realesed in 2017. Orange is the new Black is the most-watched original series on Netflix. Emmy, Golden Globe and American Film Institute awards are just one of planty awards which this series won.

Andy Greewald in the article Brilliant Orange wrote: „To watch felt more like a thrilling discovery than an obligation. It also felt like an antidote. As the heavy footprints left by a decade of swaggering, same-y male antiheroes receded from view, here finally was a show committed to real diversity. Not just in terms of the casting — though with its preponderance of black and brown faces and multiple sexual orientations and gender identities Orange looked a lot more like the country than most series that purport to reflect it — but also in terms of the stories it was willing to tell”. (

When Piper got to the prison, she didn’t suspect that it will be so bad that she could almost loose her life but also so good that she will want to go back there. The sentence „It can be always worse” should be a motto of Piper not for making her life easier, but to let her to survive.

Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is a main character of the web tv series Orange is the new Black. The 52 episodes (5 seasons) of this comedy-drama is a study of human behavior which changes or better to say develops in imprisonment. The perfect example of it is Piper, who after good and stable life goes to prison. Smuggling money from the the drugs which her ex-girlfriend Alex Vause was selling was almost forgotten. Piper started new relationship with Larry and broke up the contact with Alex. After couple of years – when her crime supposed to expire due to the law, it appeared that Alex was cought and mentioned the complicity of Chapman to the police. Piper needed to live her current life behind and start to serve her 15 months sentence in Litchfield a minimum-security women’s federal prison. A clash with reality appeared to be harder than imagined. Tuff co-inmates, rasism, prison guards not following the rules, hygiene and more are the issues which Piper needed to face to. The lyrics of the song You’ve got time of Regina Spektor (the leading song of the intro to the series) might describe the best the feelings of inprisonment:

„The animals, the animals

Trapped, trapped, trapped ’till the cage is full

The cage is full

Stay awake

In the dark, count mistakes

The light was off but now it’s on

Searching the ground for a bitter song”

Orange is the new black is not just the story of Piper Chapmann. Through 52 episodes we learn a lot about other inmates, whose stories are the same interseting as the main charater. Additionally, we not only observe the life in prison but also thanks to the flashbacks we have the possibility to get to know why most of the inmates ended imprisoned. We go back to their past, to their stories of life, which sometimes might be surprising.

The executive producer Jenji Kohan creates the series in a way that we feel sympathy to almost all characters rather than anger or disgust. We often forget their crimes and start to feel sorry for all of the inmates who often are the victims of the prison system. We see their crimes but we don’t see them in their personality. Orange is the new black is the story of women who are often pushed to make wrong choices, is a story of abuses, is a story of different characters closed in one place, is a story of segregation and sexuality, is a story of hostility, is a story of pain and smile, friendship and questions what to do after…

Daria Jaranowska

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