It's 8 p.m. on a Thursday and the Complex offices are empty. I'm about to wrap up my seventh episode of Weeds creator Jenji Kohan's new series Orange is New Black, which I almost just spelled Orange Is the Netflix, because my brain is fried. It's on Netflix. All of it. All 13 episodes. I have been assigned to watch all 13 in one sitting—and then a little blue bird on my shoulder scream-whispered in my ear, "Stop it! Go home! You're losing your shit!"
People, I failed.
But it actually wasn't the torture I'm making it sound like. If I had the mental stamina, I would've kept going, because it's damn good. An adapted original series from the Piper Kerman novel of the same name, Orange Is the New Black follows Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling, NBC's cancelled series Mercy), a wealthy, Smith-college-educated, white woman sent to lock-up for her minor involvement in a drug ring during hippie days post-college. There's this thing about soap that keeps coming up. Chapman is starting an artisanal soap business, or well, doing her best to with the little amount of payphone calls and visits she gets with her BFF and business partner Polly (Maria Dizzia, Martha Marcy May Marlene). To anyone who casually watches an episode or two, it probably means jack shit. But to me, it's become a symbol for the entire show. OK, maybe it could be a sign that I'm in too deep, but let me get to my conclusion, seven episodes in and a hundred soap references later:
Orange is the New Black is a hilarious and heartfelt dramedy, set entirely in prison with the inmates' lives before bars spliced in, that's not about scrubbing off the oil stain of one's dark past, but rather washing the murk of oneself for a smudge-free reflection of who they really are.
Led by a virtually unknown and multi-ethnic cast (Schilling, Michelle Hurst, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Kate Mulgrew, Dasha Polanco, Jason Biggs, and Danielle Brooks), Kohan's series is a can't-miss for anyone looking for some entirely different to watch on television. Just like its inmate characters, although its imperfect, its strength as whole outweigh its weakness.
Each episode of OITNB will hit you just as hard—with laughs and all the feels!—if not more so, than the last one, and it's worth every minute of your life spent on it. I've already cleared out my Saturday to finish the season.
Written by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)