“Orange is the New Black” (2013-)
Created by Jenji Kohan
“Orange Is the New Black,” about the real-life experiences of an inmate in a female federal prison, would be the best series on television…if it was on television. I mean it. Here’s why.
1. Character development — Better perhaps than any show I’ve ever seen, “OITNB” introduces each and every main character to the audience with an all-access backstage pass into their life. During each episode (with some exceptions), audiences get a glimpse into each character’s tumultuous past, telling us how she (or in some cases, he) made it to the prison and what makes her tick. I have trouble remembering names, but even I have no problem recalling each character’s name and her story. Once they get you invested in the characters, you begin to root for or against them. You have favorites, and other characters you just have to despise (don’t get me started), but no matter how you feel you have no choice but to feel. They’re like family.
2. Versatility — Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? In short, yes. “OITNB” makes you laugh, but it also makes you fearful, anxious, heartbroken, and downright angry. It has so much going on that you don’t quite know how to describe it. It’s not a sitcom by any means, but it takes the best part of those comedies and sprinkles it in with the natural drama of prison life.
3. Acting — “OITNB” is full of actresses and actors I didn’t know existed until I saw them as inmates (now I keep catching myself watching television and movies and saying “She’s in Orange Is the New Black!”). They all do a fantastic job, clearly absorbing the extensive backstory the audience receives and truly becoming the character they’re playing.
“OITNB” truly is one of the best shows I’ve EVER seen, and despite its one or two really bad seasons, that is still the case. Season 5 may have been the best one since Season 1. Its comedy is subtly brilliant; its drama arresting. To see “Orange Is the New Black” is one of the firmest recommendations I can make.