Recently, I found myself locked away in a self-imposed solitary confinement existing only on the nutritional acidity of thirteen Oranges. I found that once I broke the peel on the first Orange, I just couldn’t resist the juicy goodness, and before I knew it, I had consumed the entire package. Yes, I was left holding the empty bag of greedily consumed produce, and in turn, ravenously wanting more. Unfortunately, this un-forbidden fruit has a short growing season, and the next harvest won’t be until next year.
The sweet Orange in which I refer is the latest original series offering from Netflix, Orange Is the New Black. Adapted from the autobiographical recounting of the same title, Orange is based on the penitentiary experiences of Piper Kerman, incarcerated in a women’s federal correction facility for fifteen months. Now, I could have written penal experiences, but considering Piper was convicted of being a drug-money mule for her sublime lady lover (Laura Prepon), who is also doing her time at the same all female facility, penal has little to do with it.
We are introduced to Piper (Taylor Schilling) ten years after living la vida lesbian and is now living an unsuspecting life with fiance-Larry (Jason Biggs). She is about to surrender her upper crust, blond, blue-eyed American prerogative to the lower crumbs of American privilege in a place where maxi pads are repurposed in a way Martha Stewart never thought could be a good thing and a mythical fowl represents an allusive, clucking freedom. Dressed in the orange wrapper of fresh-cut Department of Corrections flesh, Piper must determine who to trust and who to distance in a bitch-eat-bitch world where insulting a matriarchal Russian mobster (Kate Mulgrew) can lead to forced starvation, and the protective, crazy-eyed words, “I threw my pie for you”, bind with the unconventional bonds of most wholly matrimony.
Borrowing from the expression marking a sudden popularity of one thing over the standard popularity of another, Orange Is the New Black puts previous prison series on parole. Partnered in crime with stellar acting performances and uncensored, unapologetic dialogue from some of the cartel who brought us Weeds, Netflix stole from the clutches of an HBO or a Showtime. On trial in its entirety on the web, Orange is unshackled from the lifetime sentences and capital punishment of premium cable/satellite bundles and is widely available with a Netflix account and a few bucks a month.
Yes, Orange is the new black, like that LBD just hanging there in your instant queue. Go ahead and try it on, you’ll be amazed at the look. Then make sure you have someone on your visitation list or you’ll be a prisoner for the next thirteen hours. Oh, and if you happen to see a chicken for any length of time, it’s probably a good idea to get up and walk around the yard.