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Orange Is The New Black is the prison drama produced by Netflix which is widely spoken of. Spanning over three series so far, discussion of raunchy lesbian sexual activities and prison violence are probably the first things you will hear about it. However, the television series promotes less shallow and more profound themes throughout.

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Piper Chapman, a privileged New Yorker with a successful career and fiancé is sentenced to time in a minimum security women’s prison in Connecticut for crimes she committed ten years earlier. When she was fresh faced out of college, she associated with a drug runner Alex who she believed was the love of her life. Foolishly, she helped Alex transport drug money one time.  Forced into a drastic lifestyle change, Chapman conforms to a life behind bars and encounters many bizarre and offbeat prisoners.

The television series provides an interesting fiction behind the eccentricities of the prisoners, with flashbacks to how they ended up in prison. Many characters wholeheartedly deserved to be behind bars. However other characters were circumstance to horrible backgrounds where they had to do what was necessary survive. The Hispanic prison population often make references to the fact that some women end up associated with the drug crimes of their abusive partners. Memorably, when some characters are released from prison, their circumstances in the “real world” are often far worse than their life in prison.

Although Chapman’s actions were stupid and ill- advised, we find ourselves sympathising with her more and more. She had a reformed lifestyle ten years later, yet she was being punished for her crimes in her early twenties. She had learned the errors of her ways a long time ago, and left her manipulative drug partner to form a good life. We despair as her life falls apart while she sits in a “fishbowl” and the rest of the world moves on without her. At times, we observe changes in her personality, and are sorrowed by the person she has to become to survive in a cruel environment.

With all the heartache, it is hard to realise why the television series is sometimes described as comedy. However, as we adjust to the sadness of the situation, other characters do provide entertaining and witty one- liners sure to make us chuckle. This dramatic relief is often provided by the prisoner characters in the form of “if we don’t laugh, we will cry,” fitting the plot perfectly. But this is actually very enjoyable for watchers.

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Addicted, you will be sure to binge watch this television series from the first episode, desperate to find out Chapman’s fate. The crafty plot twists, strategically placed at the end of each episode, encourages you to keep watching. We fall into the Netflix trap of staring into the corner of our screens as we are told the next episode will start playing in a few seconds. Obsessed, we short- sighted allow this to happen as small jobs and tasks are left unattended to. You have been warned.

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