Orange Is The New Black
Women’s prisons are gaining fame in a new way. “Orange Is the New Black” made its premier on Netflix in 2013 as a comedy-drama series. It is based on real life events from a book called “My Year in a Woman’s Prison” written by Piper Kerman. Even though this show is hysterical, it still focuses on the real-life issues such as; privilege, the disadvantaged, and mental illness.
Many series don’t often involve woman and the prison system. I think it’s nice to see what could possibly go on in there. Orange Is The New Black has just entered its 6th season, making that 78 episodes. With the production being in New York, The creator Jenji Kohan has found a lot of raw talent that have made a huge impact when portraying these characters.
Chapman is a main character in the beginning who is being sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Prison for criminal conspiracy and money laundering. She is well-educated, white, and a narcissist. Chapman is based on the book author, Piper Kerman, who was sentenced to a woman’s minimum-security prison. The writers of this show have made it clear that authorities have become very fond of her. Making her sentence feel a little lighter than the rest of the inmates. It could be that “white privilege” comes into to play, considering the fact that she has been granted many things that those of color cannot get. The inmates see that she is being favored which makes her presence unwanted. She soon tries to make amends meet with a powerful prisoner by giving her a gift. But in order to make this gift she needs shea butter. Chapman is introduced to a character that goes by the name of “Taystee”. Chapman trades a lock of her blond hair for Taystee’s shea butter in hopes of this chaotic drama ending.
Taystee wears the blond lock of hair with confidence, as she was looking for a new hairstyle. Taystee’s character is one that a lot of young troubled girls can relate to. She has been in and out of the system all her life. She was put into foster care at birth and remained a ward of the court until she was 16. She met a woman name “Vee” who was a notorious drug dealer. Taystee always wanted a mother figure in her life and Vee was the closes thing to that. Taystee wasn’t free from the foster system for too long as she ended up in juvenile hall then prison. It is clear that the writers wanted to emphasized the fact that Taystee prefers the system structure rather than freedom. But quite frankly that’s all she’s known. With such a hectic life all she wants is to settle down and find a purpose in life like the rest of us. In prison she has her life set as she is the librarian and has a best friend to always rely on. Things were fine in her life then boom! The writers wanted to make her life more upsetting. As Taystee loses her friend to a murder committed by an authority figure. It looked like no one would be getting charged for this crime, Of course no one would be charged, right? Have you seen today’s society! Emotions run high within her circle of friends. One particular friend, who has mental health issues, takes it to the heart. At this point everything’s going haywire in the script! “Crazy Eyes” aka Suzanne is her name.
Many characters in the story show signs of mental illness. This is an actual problem in our system. Many prisoners should belong in treatment facilities to get the actual help they need. Orange Is The New Black definitely shows the reality of these issues. The actor Uzo Aduba who plays Suzanne does an amazing job at getting every little detail right. Suzanne is one of the main characters who portrays an inmate that is very intelligent but lacks in social skills and can burst out with emotion at any second. She hits herself on the head when she thinks she’s done something wrong while repeatedly saying “stupid”. Her antipsychotic medication helps her but only to an extent. Her mentality is that of a six-year-old, which is what landed her in prison. With prison going wild, Suzanne is put in a terrifying position by a guard who tried to make her fight another inmate. This scene is intense while Suzanne is going insane trying to control her emotions. And the outcome is not pretty. Suzanne gets involved when a murder takes place resolving from this situation. She doesn’t tell anyone in fear of having the blame put on her. But can she keep it in for long? She’s slowly losing her mind from not taking her medication that cannot be provided to her due to the fact that there is a huge riot going on. She is left with trauma, not knowing what the future holds.
It makes you wonder if this really goes on in there. Do guards really abuse those that are mentally unstable for their own satisfaction? Because a lot of abuse goes on in this show. With all of the sex, drugs, riots and drama going on, it’s no wonder why this became such an instant hit on Netflix.
But what Piper Kerman wanted from this experience is to be some sort of advocate for woman’s prison. With woman being a fast-growing population of the prison system, a majority of the female inmates are being mistreated. Using her privilege to bring some light to the prisons poor conditions such as; not giving the right supplies to woman and shackling up the new mothers-to-be during labor and delivery. I don’t think Piper’s voice is loud enough to be heard, but it’s a start. Sad news about this story is that it will be coming to an end. Season 7 will be its final premier in 2019 after running its course for 6 years. Chapman, Taystee, and Suzanne have a complete new twist in the upcoming season that will change their lives forever. Will you be watching it?
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