I’ve just started re-watching the 2013 Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the show, Orange is the New Black is about a wealthy New Yorker, Piper Chapman, who ends up in a women’s prison in Litchfield, CT for helping her lesbian lover traffic drugs. She has a different socioeconomic background than the majority of the other prisoners, and the show portrays the lives of the women both on the inside and outside of confinement. The best part of the series is that it’s based on a true story.
Hopefully it’s obvious that I have not been to prison, yet I find the underlying themes addressed in the show extremely relatable and have become infatuated by these woman’s’ stories. Throughout the three seasons, each episode gives depth and humanity to the prisoners by showing flashbacks of their past lives and struggles. I find these stories so compelling because from a societal perspective and stereotype we view prisoners as explicit threats—we are scared of their past and capabilities. The show reminds me how everyone comes from a different background, and we simply can’t judge people right away because almost always we don’t know the whole story. I find myself laughing, crying, and even feeling angry throughout the seasons as the prison drama shows the heartbreaks, hardships, and even contentment of prison life. I love the way the storyline humanizes prisoners which allows the projected audience to indirectly relate to the familiarity of constant streams of different emotions. The prisoners all have different stories, but in the end of the day they are able to put their differences aside to come together as they all search for a glimpse of freedom.