If you haven’t heard about the new Netflix Original Series, Orange is the New Black, then you have probably been living in Timbuktu with no access to the internet or TV. The hit series created by Jenji Kohan (Weeds) has taken the lesbian entertainment world by storm. Inspired by the 2010 memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman, it tells the story of a woman who has to face the consequences of the bad decisions she made in her youth. The show deviates from the book significantly and many names have been changed including Piper Kerman becoming Piper Chapman. However, the root of the story is the same. In her early twenties, Piper graduates from Smith and finds herself lacking direction and seeking adventure. She becomes embroiled in a relationship with a charismatic lesbian drug smuggler. Going abroad with her new amour affords plenty of adventure and a little danger. Eventually her girlfriend pressures her to help with “the business”. So Piper smuggles drug money from Chicago to Paris. Soon after Piper ends the affair. Years later, Piper has a boyfriend, a career and whole different life. Her past is all but forgotten until her ex-girlfriend’s drug ring is busted. Then Piper’s past quite literally catches up with her. Arrested for drug trafficking and terrified at the prospect of minimum mandatory drug sentences, Piper takes a plea bargain and serves over a year in a woman’s prison.
Piper’s circumstances create a perfect canvas for Kohan to paint a new dark comedy masterpiece in the style that made Weeds so popular. It is funny, ironic and at times tragic. Most of the show is about the crazy things that happen to and around Piper on her journey through the penal system. Along the way she encounters a slew of interesting characters from sadistic guards like “Pornstache” to stalkers like “Crazy Eyes”. What makes it such a popular lesbian favorite is the relationship between Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and her drug smuggling ex-girlfriend Alex Vause (Laura Prepon). There are a host of other strong female roles and lesbian characters that round out the show. In my opinion, the Piper, Alex dynamic is paramount.
Piper has a love, hate relationship with Alex. They are incarcerated in the same prison. Piper hates Alex because she believes that Alex snitched on her and ruined her perfect life. Despite the animosity, there is a palpable sexual tension between the two of them. Alex is confident, sultry, tough and yet vulnerable especially when it comes to Piper. Piper is narcissistic and neurotic. But she can be charming and caring too. They are a fascinating yin and yang. Alex and Piper’s fiancé, Larry, both lie and convince her that Alex didn’t betray her. She rekindles her relationship with Alex by dragging her into the chapel to have sex. Hey, it’s prison. The truth inevitably comes out about Alex’s betrayal and Pipers infidelity. Piper must then decide between Larry and Alex.
Piper and Alex (Pipex) are going to go down in history as one of the greatest ships of all time. Everything about this series is top-notch, the writing, the acting, the production and the directing. Jodie Foster even directed one episode. So if you haven’t already seen it, check it out. It is on Netflix Streaming right now.
In case you were wondering, the real life Piper and her ex-girlfriend never actually restarted their romance in the book. Reuniting them on the series made for great drama though.