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Orange Is the New Black Exploits Prison

The show's crass sensationalism undermines the book's message: Noah Berlatsky
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2014 4:11 PM CDT

(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."

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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. (Read more Orange is the New Black stories.)

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