At the request of a friend, I decided to watch a few episodes in order to write a review, but once you start it’s like falling down a rabbit hole, and let me tell you, that hole is deep (I watched the entire first season in 2 days!). I can see why the show garnered such critical acclaim, but it is not for the faint of heart. It’s an unvarnished look into the realities of prison life, some of it sordid, sometimes surprisingly moving, emotionally wrenching, but always absolutely riveting. Appallingly foul language, explicit sexual material and human nature stripped raw, but with just enough moments of genuine laughter and heart to prevent it from being unbearably depressing. Believe it or not, there’s a sweetly romantic scene involving chewing tobacco. Full of carefully curated windows into the lives of the inmates, guards, and loved ones on the outside, it forces you to see them not as just fictional paper dolls, but as real people whose stories resonate with the viewer, whether you want them to or not. And Captain Janeway, how you’ve changed! Kate Mulgrew plays Red, the iron Russian chatelaine of the prison kitchen in a magnificent, charged performance.
The writing showcases an infinite spectrum of humanity and like the terracotta soldiers guarding the emperor’s tomb, every one drawn in precise detail but each totally unique. You might not like them all, but you’ve got to admire the craftsmanship. Enlightening and surprisingly profound, a real slice-of-life exposé that will leave you changed in some indefinable way. Acts of basic kindness and compassion abut petty cruelty and malicious tyranny, with the narrative pulling no punches. Orange is the New Black is a human petri dish dumped into a crucible but in spite of all the gritty darkness, there’s some deliciously twisted humor. “Between the Baptists and the addicts, I can’t find a peaceful place to meditate on love and acceptance, which my Buddhist faith requires.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. – BETHANY
For more on this bizarre cocktail of humanity, visit: The Internet Movie Database
Galina ‘Red’ Reznikov, played by Kate Mulgrew.
Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett (Taryn Manning), a pathological religious zealot.
It’s tough to be the new girl on the prison block. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) got locked up for a crime committed ten years prior, running drugs for her then-girlfriend Alex.
Laura Prepon plays Alex Vause, who has the nerve to be locked up in the same prison as ex-girlfriend Piper.
Natasha Lyonne plays Nikki, a perpetually suspicious and stridently lesbian character. She also played confused Megan in the lesbian coming-of-age movie But I’m a Cheerleader, which I have also reviewed.
Poussey Washington as played by Samira Wiley
Uzo Aduba as Suzanne Warren, better known by the uncommonly accurate appellation ‘Crazy Eyes’.
Big Boo (Lea DeLaria)
Warden Sam Healy (Michael Harney), a man of deep conviction and a bit of an obsession with what he considers ‘deviant’ sexual behavior.
“I have been here for less than two weeks. I’ve been starved out, felt up, teased, stalked, threatened and called Taylor Swift!” Larry Bloom, Piper’s fiancé, listening with varying degrees of success. (Jason Biggs)
Warning: This Gag reel is full of profanity, blatant sexual content and other rated R stuff. Just so you know.
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate Television, Tilted Productions and Netflix (other image credits can be found by clicking on them)