Orange Is the New Black isn’t your typical comedy. It’s not even your typical drama. Created by the same funny lady who brought us Weeds, Jenji Kohan, this Netflix hit uses both humor and the stuff of nightmares to keep audiences intrigued, surprised, and constantly coming back for more.

The show’s main character (and our primary point of view) is Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a pretty, blonde, white woman who is sentenced to 15 months in prison for a crime she committed almost a decade ago. The show is made all the more intriguing by the fact that it’s inspired by the true story of Piper Kerman, who detailed her prison experience in the best-selling memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.  

Despite having enough female cast members to rival a Jane Austen novel, OITNB does a remarkable job of fully developing its characters. As we experience prison through Piper’s eyes, we quickly realize that there’s a lot more to each girl than just her arrest record. Each episode features flashbacks which gradually help transform these inmates from distant and abrasive to sympathetic and relatable women. Even Piper is forced to break out of her lavender-scented, gluten-free bubble and face her flaws head on in prison, where there’s no one to pat her on the back and tell her she’s fine just the way she is. From angry prison cooks to borderline-sex-offender prison guards, Piper must learn how to survive amongst strangers and come to terms with her true self.

Haven't checked out the series yet? Well, with its second season dropping on Netflix this Friday, get up to speed with this: Everything You Need to Know to Watch Orange Is the New Black Season Two.

Colleen Thornhill is a contributing writer who will binge-watch anything and everything. She tweets here.

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