The Netflix mode of launching entire periods at the same time is all the rage, and as a unrepentant binge-viewer, count me among the grateful. However it’s worth keeping that in mind before July, when Orange is the New Black debuted, the company’s remarkable output was spotty at finest.
There was the forgettable Lilyhammer, the inadequately received Hemlock Grove, and the compelling-but-ultimately-just-a-guilty-pleasure political thriller Residence of Cards. That all changed with OITNB, a magnificent women’s prison drama that made the leading area on my individual list which drops as one of my preferred watching experiences in years.
This was a show completely fit for the Netflix shipment system, if only because it would have been agonizing to wait a week for a new episode. However there’s even more; the build felt cinematic and compared to your typical program, and I could not help however feel that the all-at-once release plane freed the creators to make something less episodic and more free-flowing.
Taylor Schilling stars as Piper Chapman, a woman living a content contemporary life when her past rears up unexpectedly to tackle her from behind; a decade earlier, she was briefly a drug burro for her fan Alex Vause (the excellent Laura Prepon), and when Vause had to plea her sentence down, she gave up Piper. The tale is based on the real-life events of Piper Kerman, whose book of the very same title was the inspiration, however the fact is that the screen variation is miles better.
Schilling is the engine that drives the plot, and her odd mix of natural serenity combineded with the enhancing anger and desperation at the late turn her life has taken strikes the ideal tone for life inside the ladies’s jail. Over the very first couple of episodes, jail is dealt with like an almost-quirky novelty she’ll need to experience for 15 months, and the wisest selection director Jenji Kohan made (and there are lots of) was to heighten the stakes so that exactly what begins as an off-kilter experience quickly handles the serious proportions prison life needs.
And as fantastic as Schilling and Prepon are together, the supporting cast is so globally outstanding that it practically beggars belief. (A highlight for me– at any time an auxiliary character gets the “how they got to prison” backstory therapy.) There are too many characters who make gold with their restricted screen time to mention separately, but suffice it to state that there suffices funny, pathos and catastrophe here for a dozen programs. The truth that they fit so successfully into one makes OITNB a defining triumph for Netflix.
Creator: Jenji Kohan
Stars: Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael J. Harney, Michelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, Jason Bigg