Netflix TV Show Review: Orange is the New Black (2013-2019)
Quote from Orange is the New Black by Crazy Eyes
“I threw my pie for you.”
Creator: Jenji Kohan
Writer: Piper Kerman (Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison book)
Total Seasons: 7
Total Episodes: 91
Major Prisoner Cast: Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, Laura Prepon as Alex Vause, Kate Mulgrew as Galina “Red” Reznikov, Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, Danielle Brooks as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols, Taryn Manning as Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett, Selenis Leyva as Gloria Mendoza, Adrienne C. Moore as Cindy “Black Cindy” Hayes, Dascha Polanco as Dayanara “Daya” Diaz, Yael Stone as Lorna Morello, Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington, Jackie Cruz as Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales, inmate, Lea DeLaria as Carrie “Big Boo” Black, Elizabeth Rodriguez as Aleida Diaz, Jessica Pimentel as Maria Ruiz, Laura Gómez as Blanca Flores, Dale Soules as Frieda Berlin, Diane Guerrero as Maritza Ramos, Constance Shulman as Yoga Jones, and Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset
Additional Prisoner Cast: Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette Pelage, Annie Golden as Norma Romano, Vicky Jeudy as Janae Watson, Julie Lake as Angie Rice, Emma Myles as Leanne Taylor, Abigail Savage as Gina Murphy, Lori Tan Chinn as Mei Chang, Tamara Torres as Emily “Weeping Woman” Germann, Lin Tucci as Anita DeMarco, Beth Fowler as Sister Jane Ingalls, Barbara Rosenblat as Rosa “Miss Rosa” Cisneros, Madeline Brewer as Tricia Miller, Kimiko Glenn as Brook Soso, Lori Petty as Lolly Whitehill, Yvette Freeman as Irma Lerman, Lorraine Toussaint as Yvonne “Vee” Parker, Blair Brown as Judy King, Emily Althaus as Maureen Kukudio, Ruby Rose as Stella Carlin, Daniella De Jesus as Irene “Zirconia” Cabrera, Shannon Esper as Alana Dwight, Rosal Colon as Carmen “Ouija” Aziza, Francesca Curran as Helen “Skinhead Helen” Van Maele, Kelly Karbacz as Kasey Sankey, Amanda Stephen as Alison Abdullah, Asia Kate Dillon as Brandy Epps, Miriam Morales as Ramona “Pidge” Contreras, Jolene Purdy as Stephanie Hapakuka, Shirley Roeca as Juanita Vasquez, Rebecca Knox as Tina Swope, Sipiwe Moyo as Adeola Chinede, Besanya Santiago as Raquel “Creech” Munoz, Finnerty Steeves as Beth Hoefler, Christina Toth as Annalisa Damiva, Amanda Fuller as Madison “Badison” Murphy, Vicci Martinez as Dominga “Daddy” Duarte, Mackenzie Phillips as Barbara “Barb” Denning, and Henny Russell as Carol Denning
Major Prison Staff Cast: Michael Harney as Sam Healy, Nick Sandow as Joe Caputo, Matt Peters as Joel Luschek, Alysia Reiner as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, Ismenia Mendes as Tali Grapes, Catherine Curtin as Wanda Bell, Joel Marsh Garland as Scott O’Neill, Brendan Burke as Wade Donaldson, Pablo Schreiber as George “Pornstache” Mendez, Lolita Foster as Eliqua Maxwell, Germar Terrell Gardner as Charles Ford, Matt McGorry as John Bennett, Lauren Lapkus as Susan Fischer, Kaipo Schwab as Igme Dimaguiba, James McMenamin as Charlie “Donuts” Coates, Alan Aisenberg as Baxter “Gerber” Bayley, Jimmy Gary Jr. as Felix Rikerson, Mike Birbiglia as Danny Pearson, Marsha Stephanie Blake as Berdie Rogers, Beth Dover as Linda Ferguson, Nick Dillenburg as Ryder Blake, Mike Houston as Lee Dixon, Emily Tarver as Artesian McCullough, Brad William Henke as Desi Piscatella, Evan Arthur Hall as B. Stratman, John Palladino as Josh, Michael Torpey as Thomas “Humps” Humphrey, Hunter Emery as Rick Hopper, Shawna Hamic as Virginia “Ginger” Copeland, Susan Heyward as Tamika Ward, Josh Segarra as Danilo Stefanovic, Greg Vrotsos as Greg Hellman, Nicholas Webber as J. Alvarez, Branden Wellington as Jarod Young, and Adam Lindo as Carlos “Clitvack” Litvack
Additional Outside of Prison Cast: Jason Biggs as Larry Bloom, Michael Chernus as Cal Chapman, Tanya Wright as Crystal Burset, Berto Colon as Cesar Velazquez, Carol Chapman, Tracee Chimo as Neri Feldman, Maria Dizzia as Polly Harper, Ian Paola as Yadriel, John Magaro as Vince Muccio, Mary Steenburgen as Delia Mendez-Powell, Miguel Izaguirre as Dario “Diablo” Zúñiga, Michael J. Burg as Detective Mark Bellamy, Bill Hoag as Bill Chapman, Karina Arroyave as Karla Córdova, Melinna Bobadilla as Santos Chaj, Marie-Lou Nahhas as Shani Abboud, and Alicia Witt as Zelda
This show pulls you into the characters so much you want to know what happens at the end of each episode and how the show will ultimately end as well. Orange is the New Black is based from the autobiography of Piper Kerman and as the show progresses, it takes creative liberties within the federal prison system. There is not a chance some things would’ve happened in actual prison life as it did in the show, but the success of any show is usually a mixture between fact/reality and fiction/imagination.
By the time Piper set foot in the minimum security federal prison due to a drug offense earlier, she finds herself unable to cope with her new reality. Her past relationship with Alex Vause has caught up to her and becomes trickier yet when she sees her again. Piper’s first month at Litchfield makes her realize there is only herself to blame and she alone has to keep her safe. The other prisoners are not her friends and there is no shoulder to cry on.
The strength of this show is the weaving back and forth between past and present time in flashbacks. These are not only exciting to watch but gives us insight into how the prisoners were sent there. The prison officers are portrayed in the often stereotypical ways seen in past television shows and movies, but accurate in other ways. There’s no way certain things would remain secret for so long, but I forgave this. Let’s just say people love to talk no matter where you are. As the prison changes operational hands, it highlights the dangers of inadequate training, overcrowding, lack of officers, increased corruption and chances of rioting. There are great supporting characters, Lolly Whitehill comes to mind (played by Lori Petty) and Carrie Black (played by Lea DeLaria)
By the final season, Piper Chapman and Alex Vause are still figuring out their lives as well as the other prisoners they have come to know. The television world is simply this: not everyone lives, not everyone dies, not everyone succeeds, and not everyone fails. Because this show mirrors “real life,” the finale has a somber ending and even though many didn’t make it or will soon be in a worse position, the ones who did survive in the makes it worth watching.
The best episode of season one is number 3 called “Lesbian Request Denied” where Piper finds out what happens when she rejects Suzanne Warren’s “Crazy Eyes” requests and tries to suppress her hatred for Alex Vause. It aired on July 11, 2013.
The best episode of season two is number 13 called “We Have Manners. We’re Polite” where Yvonne Parker “Queen Vee” finds herself alone. Piper comes clean to Joe Caputo while Joel Luschek, Sam Healy, and John Bennett try to do something good for once. It aired on June 6, 2014.
The best episode of season three is number 13 called “Empathy Is a Boner Killer” where Joel Luschek and Nicky Nichols relationship sours. Joel Caputo tries to gain control of the prison through blackmail. It aired on June 11, 2015.
The best episode of season four is number 1 called “Work That Body for Me” where Joel Caputo is promoted and gains a new officer that challenges his authority in Desi Piscatella. Suzanne Warren finds a new friend, Judy King gets preferential treatment, and Alex Vause is thankful for Lolly Whitehall. It aired on June 17, 2016.
The best episode of season five is number 8 called “Tied to the Tracks” where Galina “Red” Reznikov and Blanca Flores attempt to trick Desi Piscatella with text messages. Aleida Diaz realizes what her daughter has done while Gloria Mendoza finds out troubling news. It aired on June 9, 2017.
The best episode of season six is number 3 called “Look Out for Number One” where Linda Ferguson uses her experience to climb the corporate ladder. B and C Block prisoners fight for control while Frieda Berlin finds safety in the D Block. It aired on July 27, 2018.
The best episode of season seven is number 12 called “The Big House” where Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson realizes her reality as she meets a lawyer and how it ties into her life before being sent to Litchfield. It aired on July 26, 2019.
To end this, who were my favorite prison characters besides Piper Chapman and Laura Prepon? The main prison cast included Red, Crazy Eyes, Pennsatucky, Frieda, and Sophia. The additional cast included Sister Jane Ingalls, Lolly Whitehill, Yvonne “Vee” Parker, Judy King, Madison “Badison” Murphy, and Carol Denning. The major prison staff included Sam Healy, Joel Luschek, and Desi Piscatella.
I rate Orange is the New Black Four Fingers and One Thumb at 98%.