'Orange Is the New Black', Reviewed by VICE's Prison Correspondent
Even before I got locked up, I enjoyed reading and watching prison-centric shit, ‘cause like many people I’m fascinated by the subculture of the incarcerated. I’m not quite sure why so many people either sympathize with the so-called bad guys or simply get off on watching other humans suffer, but they definitely do. Now that I’ve done some time, I realize that prison-centric entertainment usually ratchets up the absurd and outlandish aspects to the point where I can’t even relate, ‘cause my experiences were so drastically different than what’s on the tube. Luckily, there’s Netflix’s new show, Orange Is the New Black, based on the experiences of a woman who did a little time, so not only do we get the ridiculous entertainment that we all crave, we also get some very realistic characters going through tribulations that I can relate to as an ex-con. Shame on me for stereotyping the sexes, but the fact that this show was created by a woman and is based on the experiences of a woman means we get a lot more feelings than we usually do with prison stories. This is a good thing, though, ‘cause dudes go through the same emotions in jail. I’ve seen it many times, but you won’t see it too often on the screen in the same way Orange Is the New Black captures it.
It’s a damn good show, and I know this because I’ve been told so by many people. It’s even getting more love than Arrested Development, at least in my very, very small circle of friends. That has actually been making me a touch paranoid, because I don’t know if everyone I see on a day-to-day basis knows my status as an ex-con. One of my bosses said the other day, “Have you seen this new show, Orange Is the New Black? It’s really good… I think you’d like it.” I was like, Oh shit, he must know, but who cares? He actually enjoys the show, which is good, ‘cause the show succeeds admirably in depicting at least a few fairly normal people who got locked up over some bullshit.