For the most part, I don’t like reading or watching mainstream stuff. I prefer scouring the waters of obscurity and finding gems among them. However, this was a hype I couldn’t afford to pass.
I’m talking about Orange Is the New Black.
I finished the show last December and realized what the hype was all about. Straight off from the pages of ex-convict Piper Kerman’s memoir, OITNB features the prison life Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and the (mis)adventures she had to live through to survive prison. A lot of critics praised the show for being one of the few mainstream offerings that portrayed multiple races while being gender sensitive at the same time.
And indeed it was. There were Hispanics, African-Americans, white people. There were junkies, prisoners bordering on insanity, those who felt they were messengers of God. And of course, (honestly the main reason why I watched it) OITNB featured a mix of lesbian and straight women.
The show was really short but it was so packed with stories–it’s practically multiple narratives within a big one. I felt frustrated and empty the moment I saw the last episode creds roll, mainly for the following reasons:
1. I was so emotionally-invested with the characters it hurt that I wouldn’t know what happens to them. Each character and their stories were so short yet so powerful that the impact lasts.
2. OITNB’s portrayal of prison life was like a world on its own. No, scratch that. It is a world on its own. It’s a completely different universe and leaving that world makes me homesick.
3. I waited so long for something to happen between Piper and Alex. When it finally does happen (in episode 9), everything ends (the show is 13 episodes long). I felt like I was dropped like a hot potato.
Plus, OITNB is a primordial soup for analysis–everywhere you look, there is a potential subject. For instance, one can look at the presence of hierarchy within prison. The power play between prisoners. The ego-building environment of the prison for its male guards. Sex as a commodity. The creation of myth within the prison community (yes, chicken. I’m talking about you). The complexities of a guard falling for a prisoner. OR the complexity of knowing that your ex-girlfriend, who ratted you out and is thus, the reason why you’re in prison, is also an inmate. Seriously, there’s a plethora of elements to analyze people should make OITNB a school subject.
Now, excuse me while I find another show to fill in this gaping void in me.