2013 has definitely become the year of the Netflix Original Series. House of Cards, Arrested Development and now Orange is the New Black have been met with incredible critical praise, Emmy nominations, and, most importantly to Netflix, increased viewership with each new release (Hemlock Grove being the anomaly here, but every company has to have a black sheep, right?!).
We care about this because it makes all TV better. In Orange's case, it also tells stories that we rarely, if ever, see on television and in movies. Orange is based on Piper Kerman's memoir of the same title, documenting her year in a women's federal prison. The show is adapted for TV by Jenji Kohan, the creator and executive producer of Weeds. Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman, based on Kerman's real life experiences, as a waspy 30-something sentenced to 15 months in an upstate New York women's correctional facility. As the pilot episode unfolds, we discover how she got there: as a wayward post-grad, Piper entered into a relationship with Laura Prepon's (Donna from That 70s Show) Alex, a drug smuggler who swept Piper into that world for awhile. Ten years and an engagement to Jason Biggs' character later, Piper is indicted.
But after that first episode, the best part of the show emerges: through well-deployed flashbacks, each episode focuses on one or more of the other women with whom Piper shares her time and how they came to be there. I'm going to share what Tom & Lorenzo said about the season, because it's so eloquent:
As you might imagine about a story set in a prison, it contains strong language, sexual encounters, and some tough scenes to watch for one reason or another, but powerful, beautifully-acted stories emerge. 13 episodes currently await you on Netflix, and the show has already been renewed for a second season in 2014.