Netflix have a number of shows that make subscription worthwhile. Breaking Bad (if you’re in the UK), the brilliant House of Cards, Arrested Development, Hemlock Grove, and the fantastic Orange Is The New Black, which returns for a 2nd season on the 6th June 2014.
From Emmy Award-winner Jenji Kohan, creator of the breakout hit series Weeds, comes ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, a comedic drama set in a women’s prison. Based on the popular memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, the series stars Golden Globe nominee, Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, an engaged Brooklynite whose decade-old relationship with international drug-runner Alex (Laura Prepon) results in her arrest and year-long detention in federal prison. To pay her debt to society, Piper must trade her comfortable New York life with fiancé Larry (Jason Biggs) for an orange prison jumpsuit and a strange new world of everyday indignities that forces her to question everything she knows. As she serves her time, she forms unlikely new alliances with an eccentric and outspoken group of inmates. The first series, consisting of 13 episodes, launched exclusively on Netflix in July 2013.
In her memoir, Kerman recounts her year spent serving time for money laundering at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut, a facility similar to the one where Martha Stewart served time for insider trading. In the series, Kohan has reimagined Danbury as the fictional Litchfield prison, a minimum security federal women’s prison full of one-of-a-kind characters, including tough Russian prison chef “Red” (Kate Mulgrew), sharp-tongued recovering heroin addict Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), born-again meth-head “Pennsatucky” (Taryn Manning), a sadistic prison guard nicknamed “Pornstache” (Pablo Schreiber), the outspoken and sometimes outrageous “Taystee” (newcomer Danielle Brooks), transgender beautician Sophia (Laverne Cox) and the always unpredictable “Crazy Eyes” (Uzo Aduba). In each episode, the characters that populate Litchfield come into full view as flashbacks reveal personal histories that shine a light on their lives outside the prison confines, bringing a sense of relatability and pathos for the audience.
The series itself is brought to life by creator and executive producer Kohan, along with co-executive producers Lisa Vinnecour, Michael Trim and Sara Hess, and a first-class team of guest directors including Jodie Foster, Andrew McCarthy, Phil Abraham, Uta Briesewitz, Constantine Makris, Matt Penn and Michael Trim.
There are no sacred cows when it comes to Kohan’s bold storytelling – a fearless and modern mash-up unafraid to take on race, sexuality, gender and class, sometimes all at once, all with a wink and a nod. Kohan’s interests lie in where light meets dark – creating a dramatic world punctuated with moments of levity that is uniquely her own and a perfect match in sensibility for Kerman’s classic fish-out-of-water memoir. Characters are presented flaws-and-all in a universe devoid of political correctness, ultimately revealing larger, at times uncomfortable truths about human nature. Though punctuated with moments of laugh-out-loud comedy, the series also raises provocative questions about what makes us who we are: are we the choices we made in our past or the lives we are creating now? Or are we both?
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK consists of thirteen one-hour episodes produced by Lionsgate Television for Netflix.