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      TV Review: Orange Is the New Black

      Orange Is the New Black
      Netflix’s new prison dramedy, from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, is one of this summer’s best shows. Following the ambitious and compelling House of Cards remake and the much-hyped Arrested Development reboot, internet streaming site Netflix successfully embraces original programming with Orange Is the New Black, a sharp and engaging comedy-drama.

      Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, the series focuses on Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a 32-year-old city girl from Brooklyn who happens to be sentenced to 15 months in prison for her role in an international drug operation.

      So how did this cute blonde find herself about to check in a women’s federal prison? She carried a suitcase full of money a decade ago for her drug dealer girlfriend, but the twist is that her fiancé, the nice laid back Larry (American Pie’s Jason Biggs), doesn’t have a clue about her criminal and lesbian history.

      The ‘come-clean’ moments leads to some of the funniest moment, and indeed the whole first hour of the show is hilarious. It’s easy to empathize with Piper, thanks to Schilling’s brilliant performance as well as the show’s witty sense of humour: “Promise me you’re not watching ‘Mad Men’ without me”, she pleads Larry before being incarcerated.

      Jenji Kohan (“Weeds”) has crafted a complex and quite deep show using her personal style. It is not just about laughter and good acting, but also a fresh and interesting take on the prison genre.

      This isn’t a female version of HBO’s Oz nor a women’s cliches-fest. Orange Is the New Black is actually run by run by strong and well- nuanced female characters that share the same roof and lack of freedom, and the series excels in presenting them using both the present and flashback to reveal their backstories.

      Much more than the primary storyline (that is the relationship between Piper, her fiancé and her ex-girlfriend - That ‘70s Show’s Laura Prepon), the joy in this show is in taking this 13-episode comi-tragic journey as it comes – both its seriousness and absurdity – while meeting the inmates, and guards and finding out how the prison works.

      ORIOL BOSCH ||