Raise your hand if you were apprehensive about the idea of Netflix creating original programming. I thought it was a smart idea for Arrested Development to make its big comeback online after the networks gave it the heave ho, but when I heard the people behind Netflix were going to continue their venture into alternative programming, I didn’t really think it was going anywhere.
Boy was I wrong.
I watched House of Cards, thought it was brilliant, and then it gave me hope that Orange is the New Black would be just as good. After hearing from a bunch of people and seeing the fandom grow on Tumblr, I decided to give it a try. And in all honesty, I loved it more than Kevin Spacey looking straight into my soul in House of Cards.
Created by the woman behind Weeds, Jenji Kohan, I knew that if OITNB had any of the same drama/weird comedy her previous show did, it would at least be pretty decent. And for you Weeds fans, I expected it to be as good as at least the first 2 seasons in Agrestic.
Quick plot summary: Based on a true story, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is a yuppie, Connecticut-raised, New York City resident who is engaged to her fiance, Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs). In the pilot, she is sentenced to a women’s correctional facility after being convicted of carrying drug money for drug smuggler Alex Vause (Laura Pepon) – who also happens to be her ex-girlfriend. Piper is introduced to an eccentric group of fellow inmates, and learns the ropes of living in jail.
I think what makes this show special is that although Piper is the main character and the story revolves around her, the magic of the show is the outstanding ensemble of actors that come together to create a group of people you care about – even though they are all criminals. Besides Piper, I believe, you get to know each person before it is revealed what they did in order to spend time in prison. We get to know these characters on a human level, not a criminal one.
Here are just a few of the standout recurring characters from OITNB,
Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson
Taystee is probably the liveliest, most energetic inmate in the prison. In fact, she’s so upbeat that she’s the main reason why at times, you forget you’re watching a show that takes place behind bars. Taystee also is an excellent employee in the prison library (as seen above), which makes me love her even more.
Poussey is Taystee’s best friend, and their friendship is one to be jealous of. In a place where the ladies often look to each other for ahem.. sexual relief… Taystee and Poussey’s friendship is endearing, natural, and at its heart – a story two lifelong sisters.
Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett
This bitch cray. There’s no other way to describe it. She’s like The Situation or Sarah Palin – you know what they’re saying and doing is wrong, but you can’t help but watch it all go down in flames. Pennsatucky is a former drug addict who turns herself into a self-proclaimed evangelist for God. Except everything she does is not Christian at all.
Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren
Oh Crazy Eyes. She has the most fitting nickname, because all you have to do is look at her. She quickly becomes obsessed with Piper, but things go awry once she tells her she’s engaged – to a man – and does not want to hook up. Let’s just say, don’t get Crazy Eyes mad when she’s had a lot to drink.
Sophia is a transgender woman who is the hairdresser for many of the inmates. As if living as a transgender isn’t hard enough out in the real world, it’s even more difficult in prison. But Sophia has this exceptional confidence that she always carries that would make any woman – or man – jealous.
I feel like Natasha Lyonne was made for the role. Nicky Nichols is a former drug addict who provides snarky commentary and A+ advice to her fellow inmates.
BONUS: John Bennett
Played by Matt McGorry, Bennett is a correctional officer who is in a secret relationship with inmate Daya. I did not include a picture because I graduated college with him and it’s weird to see his face everywhere. I got freaked out and had to stop searching. But he’s included so I can compare my success in life with his (not as impressive as his).
BONUS x2: The cast members are people you actually want to hang out with IRL. Case in point: TWERKING.
BONUSx3: Even though we’re nearing the end of the summer TV season, there’s still plenty of time to fit in another series before fall TV kicks up again. So after you watch OITNB and are left wondering what to watch, we suggest using this awesome TV show generator to find your next fave series!
Click image to open interactive version (via CableTV.com).