If you’ve ever wondered how you’d fare in federal prison, you might consider checking out Orange Is the New Black, a darkly funny series that premieres today on Netflix.
Based on the 2010 memoir by Piper Kerman, Orange tells the story of a well-adjusted, upper-class Brooklynite (she has an artisanal soap line, if that’s any indication) sentenced to 15 months in a women’s prison for a drug crime committed a decade earlier.
Initially, Piper (Taylor Schilling) is in full-on denial, boasting to her fiancé (Jason Biggs) about her future “prison abs” and delighting that her regulation slippers look like Toms. But as she acclimates to her new surroundings, she begins to realize the gravity of her situation, and the allegiances and enemies she’ll need to make.
Creator Jenji Kohan--she’s the woman behind Weeds--does a terrific job of exploring prison’s weird insularity, from the strict racial hierarchies to the inmates you don’t want to mess with to the seemingly bizarre rituals. (You sleep on top of your bedding, apparently.)
But the real power comes from Schilling, who, in her portrayal of Piper, is all at once sympathetic, funny and infuriating.
All 13 episodes are currently available for streaming (hooray for binge-watching!), and we’re thrilled to hear that Netflix has officially signed on for a second season.