The Mancunion

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TV Binge: Orange is the New Black

Georgia Welch locks in for a TV marathon of the best female prison drama-comedy in the world, bar none

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“God, this is the loneliest place I’ve ever been and I lived in a tree for eight months!”

I’d be insulting your intelligence if I were to formally introduce you to the international TV phenomenon that is Orange is the New Black. This Emmy Award-winning Netflix original series has dominated screens and headlines alike since its inception back in July 2013, so if you haven’t already partaken in the riveting and raunchy action it has to offer, then you’re truly missing out on a treat.

Jenji Kohan’s expertly crafted comedy-drama, loosely based on the real-life prison memoirs of Piper Kerman, seamlessly blends humour with heartache as it details Piper’s story and complicated love life, alongside her interactions with fellow inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary. Among the multitude of things to love about this profound and innovative series are its equally as loveable characters, each with their own creatively developed backstories which are interwoven throughout various episodes of the show’s two seasons. Indeed, its writers and actors truly bring these characters to life with their painstakingly convincing depiction of the plethora of problems which plague their pasts, be that addiction, loss or mental illness.

Orange is the New Black explores the dynamics of a women’s prison and touches on the web of corruption, romance and animosity which unfolds within the walls of Litchfield; the amalgamation of an array of personalities all attempting to live under the same roof in (relative) harmony. Don’t let its depth mislead you, however, as the show is as comedic as it is insightful, and the twists and turns of each episode are sure to leave you smiling.

The acting throughout both seasons of the show is second to none, with the cast not only vividly exhibiting the fear and uncertainty of prison life, but also pushing boundaries and breaking down TV barriers. Notably, Laverne Cox plays the prison’s trans inmate, Sophia Burset, and is one of the first trans actors to be cast in a role of this nature. She also went on to become the first openly trans woman to win an Emmy Award for her role.

Orange is the New Black is one of the first in a new wave of Netflix original productions, and it most definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted. Its ability to maintain its heart-warming and hilarious appeal, coupled with gritty and hard-hitting storylines is a true testament to the talented team of writers behind the scenes. With the production of its third season underway and reportedly heading to screens in June this year, there’s still plenty of time to catch up with the show’s first two seasons. Do the ladies of Litchfield truly live up to the hype? See for yourself. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed.