Orange Is the New Black Exploits Prison
The show's crass sensationalism undermines the book's message: Noah Berlatsky
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted May 28, 2014 4:11 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Watch the trailer for the new season of Orange Is the New Black, and it's chock-full of sex, threats, gags, and a general sense of fun and excitement. The message seems to be that "drama, sex, violence, all in prison = awesome," observes Noah Berlatsky at Splice. That was basically season one's approach, too, but somehow "seeing the formula distilled down into a two minute clip underlines how crass it is." The prison life it shows "is consistently pushed towards deviance and sensationalism."

Piper Kerman's memoir aims to show that none of the women truly belong in prison, which is pointless, monotonous, and arbitrary. Characters presented there as essentially normal people, like Crazy Eyes and Pennsatucky, have to be "excitingly deviant" on TV, presented as a "magical font of zaniness" and an idiotic redneck cliché respectively. Who wouldn't want to lock them up? "The problem is that while the television show isn't real, incarceration is." We fruitlessly overstuff our prisons in America, and OINTB proves that "we don't care to tell a story that will empty them again." Click for the full column.

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Showing 3 of 14 comments
May 29, 2014 8:52 PM CDT
This is a TV show, not a documentary, and it should not be held accountable for depicting the complete realism of incarceration. That is quite simply not it's purpose. I'm sure there were aspects of Breaking Bad that aren't the true experience of drug kingpins, and all those procedurals that solve major crimes in 40 minutes? That doesn't happen in real life either. i just recently watched the first season of OITNB, and thought it was a great show. Some of the characters certainly made me sympathize with them and feel like they didn't deserve to be there, and think about how that happens to real people every day. Not to mention the hard reality many face when finally released.
Chris Farley
May 29, 2014 8:38 AM CDT
A corrections officer union head once told me that they find more drugs, contraband, and weapons in the prison than he found outside when a police officer.
May 29, 2014 3:32 AM CDT
It's a good show. I haven't seen the trailer for the second season, but the realities of prison are not taken lightly AT ALL in the first season. There is plenty of comic relief, but also a lot of abuse, corruption, intimidation, fear, and death.