Orange is the New Black has become a global hit since its first series aired in 2013. It has received three Emmy Awards and is Netflix’s most-watched original series.
The series looks at the brutality of the US prison system – with a bit of touching up to make it more entertaining to watch, of course – and explores issues such as homophobia, sexism, poverty, racism and more broadly, the rampant power struggles that characterise modern day America.
The first season mirrors the plot of the book, of the same title, by Piper Kerman, who wrote about her experience of a year in prison, after she was arrested for her role in a global drugs cartel. The show’s Piper is played by Taylor Schilling, and the series shows her difficulties adjusting to life on the inside and the issues faced with her on-screen ex-girlfriend, Alex Vause, played by That 70s Show star, Laura Prepon.
Later seasons, however, use a more ensemble cast approach to explore the different reasons as to why people end up in prison and offers commentary on the justice system in America.
Jenji Kohan uses the show to – don’t worry, we won’t give away any spoilers – explore the issues in modern America, including racism, the mistreatment of immigrants by the US authorities, mass incarceration, lack of healthcare funding, poverty, sexism, homophobia, sexual abuse and other aspects of inequality. The show’s production team has launched the Poussey Washington Fund which donates to non-profits working to end these problems.
How many seasons of Orange is the New Black are there?
The series has seven seasons, and ended in 2019.
How many episodes are there in a season of Orange is the New Black?
In total there are 91 episodes.
Who stars in Orange is the New Black?
The show stars Taylor Schilling as Piper, and Laura Prepon as Alex.
Other cast members include Michael Harney, Michelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, Jason Biggs, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Selenis Leyva, Adrienne C. Moore, Dascha Polanco, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Samira Wiley, Jackie Cruz, Lea DeLaria, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Jessica Pimentel, Laura Góme, Matt Peters, Dale Soules and Alysia Reiner
Why did Orange is the New Black end?
The series ended in 2019 because Piper finished her sentence in prison and had readjusted to life on the outside, so the show’s creator Jenji Kohan felt it was time to move on.
Although many aspects of the first season do reflect her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison in the US, she says she never slept with Alex (whose real name is Catherine Cleary Wolters) behind bars. In fact, although the show has been praised for its much-needed representation of female same-sex relationships on screen, the romance and drama of the prison is one of its least realistic qualities.
Also, disappointingly for the brigade of viewers who find Larry the most annoying character on television, the real-life Piper actually married Larry Smith – but the real Larry is a sweetheart, who told The New York Times, ‘To say she was freaked out and wondering if I would stick around for the messes sure to come is an understatement. To say that it never once crossed my mind to bail on her is simply a statement of fact.” Larry, the show cheated you.
But other aspects, as Piper herself told NPR, are accurate.
Orange Is The New Black Season 5
‘The Netflix series is an adaptation, and there are tremendous liberties. What that means is that when you watch the show, you will see moments of my life leap off the screen, such as Larry Bloom’s proposal to Piper Chapman, [which] is not so very different from the way my husband, Larry Smith, proposed to me.
“There are moments in the very first episode, like when Piper Chapman insults Red, who runs the kitchen with an iron fist — that is actually very closely derived from what’s in the book and from my own life. But there are other parts of the show which are tremendous departures and pure fiction.”
In addition to this, although the characters themselves are fictional, the scapegoating of black inmates – we won’t name who or why, to avoid spoilers – and broader racism that is a key feature of the program is realistic, and draws on stories of real women’s plights. Black Lives Matter features in the show as a comfort to those affected by the institutional racism of the criminal justice system, and in real life it works to end injustice towards black people in America.
Orange Is the New Black
The show itself has also launched the Poussey Washington Fund to support non-profits focusing on policy reform, immigrants’ rights, and mass incarceration.
Who wrote Orange is the New Black?
The series was written by Jenji Kohan, and the book is by Piper Kerman.