Why you should catch up with Orange is the New Black

It's the rude, crude prison drama I never thought I'd like - but you'll regret it if you don't give it a go, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

Orange is the New Black is the rude, crude prison drama with shower scenes of a lesbian nature I never thought I’d like.


And I’m not the only one. The show, based on the real life of writer Piper Kerman who found herself facing a jail sentence 10-years after she smuggled drug money for her then-girlfriend, is something of a surprise hit. But a hit it is. And it’s back for a second series tomorrow to prove it.

The second season of the Netflix Original Series lands on the steaming service this Friday (6 June). And while on paper, Piper’s dark story – peppered with violence, crime and tampon-filled sandwiches – is not my cup of tea, I’m seriously pondering joining the race to see who can make it to the end of the series first. That’s almost 13 hours sat in front of Netflix. Sure it sounds like a lot, but I reckon I can totally do it.

Though I tentatively dipped by toe into the first series of the prison drama, I was soon daydreaming about being back behind bars – “I’d love to go for a drink after work but, I, erm, have something really important to do at home.” The 13-part series had me hooked almost from the word go.

Series one of Orange is the New Black follows Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as a version of Piper Kerman, the fish-out-of-water middle-class New Yorker you don’t quite believe deserves to do time for her crime.

Piper says goodbye to her doting fiancé and her group of comfortably off friends, leaving the middle class New York we all recognise and entering a world we know as little about as she does. And what Piper finds in the slammer is surprising – as much for her character as it is for us.

OITNB boasts a strong female cast, full of developed, multi-dimensional characters with interesting stories to tell. You might have thought polite and proper Piper would never fit in with the rest of the inmates, but nothing is ever that black and white. The message? Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or a woman by her orange jumpsuit.

Add to that the drama – angry cooks, touchy-feely guards, allies, prison wives, love in lock-up – and some stand out performances from the likes of Laura Prepon, Jason Biggs and transsexual actress Laverne Cox and you’ve got yourself one corker of a TV show.

Oh and THAT series one finale. You’ve got to catch up, if only to find out who makes it to series two… 


Orange is the New Black series 1 is on Netflix now. Series 2 is available from 6 June.