Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sizing up season one of Orange is the New Black

One of my pop culture goals this summer was to catch up with the first season of Orange is the New Black, the acclaimed Netflix series that has just been nominated for several Emmy awards.

Since I don't have the streaming option on my Netflix account(which will be discussed further in a moment) and have a one disc at a time deal with my rentals, it took me some time to watch the entire season on DVD,plus read the memoir by Piper Kerman upon which this show is based. With both book and show completed, I have a few talking points to go over.

 No, I don't intend to do a full recap or run down a list of plot line preferences and favorite characters since that has already been covered both online and off. Instead, I have about three topics that reflect my initial impression of the show and hopefully not sound too newbie to the seasoned fans:

BOOK VS. SERIES: I started reading the book(on loan from Booksfree) about three episodes into watching the adaptation and yes, there are differences between the two.

The show is a somewhat fictionalized account of Piper Kerman's(called Piper Chapman here) real life incarceration for slightly over a year, thanks to being named by a former lover for being a courier of drug money ten years prior.

Many of the dramatic story lines played out on the show didn't exactly happen to real world Piper yet you can see the inspiration for some of them within  the pages.  Also, most of the names were changed for the series,which is somewhat ironic given that they were already changed in the book to protect the women's identities.

However, I don't see that as a flaw. I'm at the point in my reading and viewing life where such transitions are acceptable if well done and they are in this instance. Piper's retelling of how actual life in a women's prison is nothing like the exploitation movie nonsense that often comes to mind when this subject comes up and offers a real nuts and bolts look at how the system does and doesn't work for these women once they're in and out of jail.

Piper Kerman is a consultant on the show and has no problem with the more TV drama approach taken with the source material, since it makes the whole subject much more relatable to people. I quite agree and glad to have read the book,which tells it's own compelling tale, as well as being entertained by it's TV bunkmate:

COMEDY OR DRAMA?: As I mentioned earlier, OITNB has been nominated for the upcoming Emmy awards this summer in several categories,including directing(yes, that Jodie Foster!) and most of the actresses along with leading lady Taylor Schilling.

However, OITNB is competing in the comedy section and most folks would agree that the show is more of a "dramedy", that hybrid of humor and pathos that many of our beloved hour long series fall into such as Mad Men and The Sopranos. The reasoning behind this is simple show business as the drama categories are heavily packed as it is and the chances for a win are far better in this arena.

If I had to be forced, I would say that OITNB is really a drama with some comic relief moments than a comedy with serious scenes attached to it. The show does and can flip the script on that tone,often in just one scene alone, and if this strategy works to get some of these talented folks their trophy, more power to them. If Laverne Cox doesn't get an Emmy,I won't be alone in throwing my pie at somebody(unless of course, one of her co-stars such as Uzo Aduba gets it instead): 

DVD VS.STREAMING:  Even tho I am a lady of limited means, I could probably switch over to streaming but then I would have to give up my DVD option on Netflix and that I can't do.

I know streaming is the "in thing" and all of that, yet I do have a TV with a DVD player built in(and yes, I don't have Blu-Ray either) and it would be such a waste not to use that. Plus, taking my time with a show like this has plenty of pop culture benefits.

For one thing, it allows the viewer to savor the rich nuances of the characters as they interact with each other and have a moment of their own, along with the ongoing story lines, plus build up a hearty appetite for what comes next. While finding out what happens to Piper and Alex or Red and the kitchen crew is only a search engine click away, holding off from such easy answers is a test of discipline( I must confess to looking up season two highlights once I finished with S1).

I'm not knocking binge watching,particularly since OITNB is as hard to put down as a bag of nacho cheese chips. I did spend a few weekend nights with the ladies of Litchfield and it was a blast yet it was good to have some down time,too:

So, I look forward to season two when it hits DVD and even season three, which is due out sometime next year(no official date has been confirmed yet).

OITNB is and was excellent TV/web series that is changing the face of entertainment and I'm happy to finally be in the mix. It's nice to discover that something so trendy is actually worth all of the hype and then some.

 The real cherry on top of this saucy sundae is how many wonderful actresses from old school diva Kate Mulgrew to indie darlings like Natasha Lyonne and Taryn Manning and fresh faces like Uzo Abuda, Samira Wiley,Dascha Polanco and the lovely and amazing Laverne Cox are given their turn to strut across the stage. It's a pity that it took a show about prison to set many of these emerging talents free and with any luck, Hollywood will sit up and take notice:

No comments: