Toast Talk

July 28, 2014

True confessions: I binged watched the two Orange Is the New Black series in a matter of days. I can’t even remember why I decided to start watching – it had never been on my list to try – but I think it happened during a weekend when I was holed up at home, alone with the pup and had run out of work stuff to do. I guess it never interested me before because I was scared it would be super gritty or violent or depressing or an awful combination of all three. There was definitely a bit of grit, some…

True confessions: I binged watched the two Orange Is the New Black series in a matter of days. I can’t even remember why I decided to start watching – it had never been on my list to try – but I think it happened during a weekend when I was holed up at home, alone with the pup and had run out of work stuff to do. I guess it never interested me before because I was scared it would be super gritty or violent or depressing or an awful combination of all three. There was definitely a bit of grit, some uncomfortable eyefuls, and few sad parts in the first episode and those that follow but the humor is what surprised and hooked me into watching episode after episode until my eyes hurt.

Basically, I love the show. I don’t think prison is funny and the concept of women being humiliated while serving time is jolting but the taboo setting and storyline does make one think differently about what life in prison might be like. My favorite part of watching, aside for the hilarious one-liners (new favorite insult: “potato with eyes”) and the great cast of actors, are the flashback stories that show how individual inmates ended up with their sentence and the people they were before going to prison. Having the main character, Piper, being a bisexual makes the storyline a taboo inside a taboo. Her frequent pre-prison flashbacks to her life when she committed her crime (lesbian lover who helped smuggle drug money) to the woman she was ten years later and up until entering prison (straight, “normal” girl engaged to a man and making soaps with her friend to be sold at Barneys) are particularly interesting as the episodes show her struggling with her personal values and self definition.

I prefer Season One to Season Two, only because there is a lot more rough prison drama in the second season but while the first showed flashbacks of pre-prison life the second season episodes have flashbacks of prison life many years before Piper comes into play and they tell of past relationships between the women inmates. I’ve talked about the show to other women devotees and I think our obsession and fascination, along with thinking “prison doesn’t look all that bad,” comes from seeing the way the characters bond and form relationships. There is a warmth and sweetness to many of the friendships and a like-minded “we’re all in this together” mentality that makes the inmates seem more like family than lawbreaking women who should be feared.

I’ll be completely honest in saying that I have never given much thought to those who live a life behind bars. It’s a “they must have done something bad and been punished accordingly” thought process that’s kept me from ever wondering about the hows and whys. Knowing that Orange Is the New Black is based on the memoir by Piper Kerman and the true account of her 15 months in prison and the people she met there makes me think so much differently about convicted felons and the flaws in the US legal and prison system. Piper’s “it could happen to you” predicament and how she, her family, and friends face her situation and prison setting also makes me wonder how I would handle something similar – being in her shoes or if something similar were to happen to one of my family members of friends.

SO: Have any of you watched the series? Loved it or hated it? Obsessed or repelled by it? There’s not a premiere date for the release of Season Three but they’ve apparently started filming…hurry Netflix, hurry.

(Image via Song of Style)

  1. Great Toast Talk, glad it’s back! I agree w/ Makeup1959 that going to a federal prison couldn’t necessarily happen to anyone – but I also think it’s easier than I realized for many “normal” people to wind up in a situation like that. The “Medium” article that Grace – Stripes & Sequins linked to is incredible! p.s. I don’t watch the show but now I know what I’ll be doing on Saturday morning…

  2. I love Orange is the New Black!! I love how in depth they make all their characters. 🙂 My friend Shawn got to see the cast at the gay pride parade in NYC they had their own float!

  3. Well I’m at a loss. I’ve never seen the show and don’t care to. I did briefly read what it was about. This girl committed a crime and now has to pay the price. We all have to be responsible for our actions. And no it can’t happen to anyone. I usually really enjoy you’re blog. But this article. Maybe I’m to conservative.

  4. LOVE IT! At first I was afraid to watch it for the same reasons, but then I watched the first episode and was hooked and after talking and rambling about it so much my mom got hooked too! So we watch it together I’m no fan of the sex parts and the violence scenes are pretty rough but the lines and the relationships between all the characters is what I like the most and the flashbacks definitely are the best! (And I prefer the ones from the first season, CAN’T wait for season 3)
    Xoxo – Monica

  5. I’ve never commented on a blog post before (even though I read your blog every day!), but I was so touched by the last paragraph of your post that I just had to write to say thanks! I totally agree with you — thinking about the hows and whys behind people who are incarcerated is so important. Everyone has a story and OITNB is a great reminder that you never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

    Anyway, thanks for this post and for your lovely blog!

  6. I LOVED Orange is the New Black season 1 (I binged and watched it in a weekend), but am yet to watch season 2. It’s extra fascinating to me, as I am a law student in Australia and our justice system is a little different to that of the US. But I think the universal themes of justice, ethics, female friendship and human relationships stand regardless.

    This is a great behind the scenes look as well:
    http://www.dailylife.com.au/dl-people/dl-entertainment/go-behind-the-scenes-with-your-faves-from–orange-is-the-new-black-20140212-32gq5.html

    Amy xx
    girlforgranted.com

  7. I started to watch the first episode, but the eyeful of boobies was a bit much for me. LOL. I thought maybe it was going to be a bit too gritty for me, but I am intrigued by your review. I will definitely give it another chance. Be well…

  8. I became obsessed as well! I looked forward to coming home from work every night for a couple weeks so I could have dinner and hunker down in bed and watch an episode! The humor, the stories and the relationships drew me in and I’m already eagerly looking forward to Season 3!

    And I heard that Piper’s memoir is a bit different from the series so I’ve already purchased that to enjoy in the meantime!

  9. Obsessed! You just fall in love with the characters on this show. I also love Sherlock on Netlix…definitely recommend checking that one out!

  10. P.S. thanks for bringing TT back! It’s something I look forward to reading while sipping my morning cup. Honestly, It’s my fav part of APOT!

  11. I too have watched both seasons, and while it is seriously taboo for my preference I couldn’t help but get sucked it. Season 1 was defintely better, I just felt that the writing was more thought out. Season 2 seemed rushed and a little too focused on V. If you haven’t seen house of cards then it is a MUST SEE!

  12. I love it so much. The first season got me through a harder time at the end of last summer… (you literally can’t think about anything besides the show when you’re watching it — so much happens and you are either dying laughing or just totally shocked!) I binge watched the second season (basically finished it in a weekend) and have gotten a little bit obsessed with learning more about the “real” Larry & Piper.

    If you haven’t read this article on Medium, you have to! It’s long but worth it. https://medium.com/matter/my-life-with-piper-from-big-house-to-small-screen-592b35f5af94

  13. I’ve tried to get into Orange is the New Black but it just never sticks with me. Now, House of Cards….. THAT is my Netflix binge… If you haven’t seen that, I can HIGHLY recommend! Can’t wait for Season 3!

  14. I’ve seen both seasons. I agree with you–I prefer the 1st to the 2nd based on the flashbacks. Very cool show and can’t wait for them to release more!

    Xo,
    Dallastyleblog.com

  15. We only have netflix and vudu in our house, so I don’t watch any programs regularly. I did however watch the entire 2 seasons of Orange, and loved them. I agree about the eyefuls and gratuitous nude scenes, but the character development is perfect and the humor is very original. Huge fan.

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