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By Diana Clarke
October 06, 2014
By Diana Clarke
October 06, 2014

Aside from the obvious FOMO and FOBUTPIW/FGC (fear of being unable to participate in workplace/friend group conversations) there are so many reasons you should watch the Netflix original show Orange is the New Black. Without giving anything away, the show follows a sheltered and unlikely criminal Piper (Taylor Schilling), as she struggles to deal with daily life in a women’s prison.

The show has two complete seasons of lust, lesbianism, violence, emotional turmoil and a whole lot of drama, and Netflix released each season in its entirety. The upside of this fact is the absence of that nail-biting, character-obsessing, cannot-think-about-anything-other-than-the-show week long wait for the next episode to air. The flip side is that you might end up watching every single episode of both seasons back-to-back, pausing only to order a pizza and yell at your flatmate to quit attempting to force you out from the viewing cave you’ve made from your duvet and don't intend to leave until you see that credit screen roll on the season two finale. And when I say you might end up doing this, I mean you probably will. And when I say you probably will, I mean that is what I did. No regrets.

So whilst my OITNB cravings have been happily satisfied, my flatmate isn't speaking to me. And whilst I am entirely up to date with Piper and the gang, I haven’t been outside in the last 48 hours. And whilst I can quote the entire theme song word for word, I am writing this from my duvet cave amidst a sea of half eaten pizza, unwashed sheets and shame.

And there you have it. There is a flip side to every coin, a thorn to every rose, a cloud to every silver lining. OITNB is no exception. So here are a few more pros and cons of Lightboxing the show that has everyone talking.

Pro: The casting is on point

Seriously. Every single character is perfection. The casting is flawless. You’ll love them. You’ll hate them. Mostly, you’ll love to hate them. It’s not possible to do the characters justice in a mere paragraph, because they are all so different from one another that it’s impossible to summarise. One thing they do have in common is that each girl is awesomely complex and entirely relatable. You’ll have your favourites, select your gang, and low-key assign your own prison wife.

Con: Too on point?

When I say the casting is perfect, that is not to say that it wasn't bias. One of the lead writers Lauren Morelli may have been swayed in her decision making based on ulterior motives. You see, at the casting  Morelli was your usual happily married heterosexual woman. Yeah, you know what’s coming. Whether it was being constantly surrounded by the lesbianism in the show, or maybe she got so involved int he script writing that she cam to an epiphany, we cannot be sure. But Morelli is now no longer married. She is, however, in a loving lesbian love affair with Samira Wiley, who plays Poussey, a lead character in the show.

Pro: It gives a fresh perception of prison

You might be stifling a yawn at this point. Like “yeah right, how would you know what prison is like?” But don't take it from me. Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith, who was sentenced to a year behind bars, compliments the shows accuracy and claims that the show largely “nails it” in its representation of prison life. There is no sugar coating the cells in this show. There is fighting and fear, racism and rage, but there is also unconditional friendship, camaraderie and a truckload of love amongst the girls that will have you wanting to be a part of the Riverhead prison crew.

Con: Prison becomes appealing

Unfortunately you may want to be a part of the Riverhead gang so much that you start to wonder whether prison life would be so bad after all. The girls are always having fun. They always look warm, watered and fed. Plus you don't have to pay rent in prison. And you don't have to decide what to wear each day. See? You can understand how things start to spiral…

Pro: Piper and Alex

So Piper is in a pretty serious relationship when she is imprisoned. With a guy called Larry. Here is why we are not rooting for the relationship: a) His name is Larry. With that name he is just begging for us to hate him. b) He is played by Jason Biggs, that guy from Weeds and American Pie who is kind of just whiny and annoying. c) Piper makes a way better lesbian. d) Alex. Alex is played by Laura Prepon, the girl who was Donna on That 70’s Show. The pair of them have this really intense chemistry and a roller coaster back story that will have you vying for them to get loved up right from the beginning.

Con: Donna and Eric

But if Laura Prepon is with Piper, then how can her character Donna be with Eric Forman?! The couple were everyone’s favourite high school sweethearts from That 70’s show, and we wanted them to make it until the bitter end. Way to home-wreck Piper. Still. Prepon suits homosexuality. #teampipelex

Pro: The flashbacks

The best part of the whole show is the intensity to the characters and their relationship with one another, and how these relations sculpt the plot and its many many twists. Flashbacks are a common occurrence, giving off a Weeds-like vibe that’ll have you clicking to the fact that Jenki Kohan created both hit shows. These memories add to the complexity of the characters, and helps viewers adore them that little bit more.

Con: Emotional attachment

This adoration for the girls can sometimes get weird. It starts when we see the prison cook Red’s past, and the reason behind her scariness (shout out to the fact that Red is played by Kate Mulgrew who played Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek, and an honourable mention to the sly Spock reference in the first season). And then suddenly we know every character’s story, and we love them to the point where we go to text them to hang out, but then realise that we don't have their phone number. Because they don't exist.

Pro: Crazy Eyes

Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. The fact that the words “crazy eyes” are included in her official title should alert you to the kinda gal Suzanne is. At the start you’ll be scared of her. You’ll hate her. Then you’ll probably adore her. I do. Suzanne and I are girls. Mostly because she hit on Piper with the pickup line “vanilla chocolate swirl.” If that’s not original I don’t know what is.

Con: Crazy Eyes

Like I said, you’ll love her, but you’ll also really really hate her. Mostly when she gets slightly terrifying in her pursuit to wife Piper and pops a squat in Piper’s cell. Yeah that happens. It’s a complicated relationship.

Pro: Pennsatucky

Pennsatucky may be the best character in the entire show. The girl is all kinds of baby-faced, bible-thumping, meth-addled crazy, but she adds a whole new dimension to the show. Whilst she is essentially the show’s antagonist, she is also weirdly loveable in her hateful, tenacious, Jesus freak way.

Con: Pennsatucky was a pro

That moment that you realise you’re kind of in love with a meth-head psychopath, and you start to question your sanity.

Pro: The wit

Can we just appreciate that fact that a meth-head holds a slice of pizza in each hand and refers to herself as “Edward Pizzahands”. Another nod goes to a description of prison being “just like the Hamptons… but f*cking horrible”. And to wrap it up, Crazy Eyes declares her love for Piper in an honourable pie-throw and weeps “I threw my pie for you.” A declaration of love that knocks the whole ‘only room for one on the floating plank’ scenario in Titanic off its love-declaration pedestal.

Con: The language

From the get go you’ll notice the show has its own lingo. If you get into that vicious just-one-more-episode cycle no doubt you’ll pick up on the jail jargon and start blurting out prison slang all over the place. From referring to every blonde as “Taylor Swift,” using the pet name “vanilla chocolate swirl,” and describing every tween’s favourite cancer novel Fault in Our Stars’ write John Green as a “sick f*ck” for killing off the main character.

Pro: The Love Interest

One of the most stunning cast members Daya Diaz (Dascha Polanco) is this innocent-seeming kid that viewers will instantly fall for. But alas her heart belongs to another. One of the only heterosexual relationships in the series is between inmate Daya and prison guard Bennet (Matt McGorry). The two are sickeningly cute together, and their relationship being a massive secret adds some juicy drama to the show.

Con: The tragedy

You don't have to be an OITNB-addict to figure out the flip side to this romantic coin. He is a prison guard. She is a prisoner. Their relationship makes Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love look like a joke. Whilst we enjoy the stolen moments between the two, viewers are also heart-breakingly aware of the fact that this can never possibly work out. Cry.

Pro: It addresses serious issues

You see the thing is, as the creator Jenji Kohan often points out, Piper, the scrawny spoilt white girl is merely a trojan horse. By casting an attractive, european lead, the show has undoubtedly drummed up a much larger audience than it would have done had the lead been black, overtly homosexual, or unattractive. Piper starts out as your typical upper middle-class Brooklynite. It isn't until audiences are already completely spellbound by the storyline that they are suddenly awakened to the fact that the majority of the cast is black. Piper is batting for the other team. And that the show is based on themes of race, sex, patriarchy, power dynamics, lying, cheating, drug dealing, and all round evil. But by that time it is too late to bow out. You’re hooked. And what started as a watching a white girl struggling through prison is now your entire life.

Con: Get the tissues

And whilst it is pretty cool that you’re gaining this all-knowing worldly perspective of some of society’s most pressing and deep seated issues, when you sit back and ponder the program, things tend to get a little emotional. You will cry. You will get mad at yourself. You will question your own integrity. Bring tissues.

Pro: Handy Prison Life Hacks

If you’re planning on a sojourn to the cells, then at least after watching the show you’ll be fully prepared with the best survival tactics thanks to the impressive resourcefulness of the inmates. Between making a lighter out of a battery and tinfoil, maxi-pad surgical masks, and duct tape shower-jandals, you’ll have all the skills necessary for an easy life behind bars.

Con: We all want to be prisoners

See? I told you you’d start considering jail as a viable future. A massive downside to OITNB is that prison may make a surprise appearance in your five year plan. You’ll get really weird and start wondering what crimes you could justify committing in order to end up behind bars and start living the life of the Riverhead gang.

If you feel like you might benefit from both the pros and cons of Orange is the New Black, you can catch season 1 of the show on Lightbox now - you get a 30 day free trial and no ads.

This post is was made possible thanks to Lightbox.

Published on October 06, 2014 by Diana Clarke


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