Orange Is the New Black—Season 1

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great cast, great storytelling, great looking



The gang’s here for life!

Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) has made mistakes in her life…and now she’s paying for it.  Sentenced to fifteen months in Litchfield Penitentiary for transporting drugs, Piper finds herself in a whole new environment where making enemies could mean death.  Now, Piper must navigate the prison sentence and try not to make waves…which could be difficult with her fiancé Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs) trying to survive on the outside and Piper’s former girlfriend and drug trafficker Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) trapped inside with her.


There’s lots of action in this prison!

Orange Is the New Black—Season 1 was a Netflix original series released on July 11, 2013 and collected and released on DVD May 3, 2014.  The series was based on the true-life events of Piper Kerman in her biographical novel Orange Is the New Black:  My Year in a Women’s Prison released in 2010.  The series was won Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Uzo Aduba “Lesbian Request Denied”), Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series (“Tit Punch”) with nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Taylor Schilling “The Chickening”), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Kate Mulgrew “Tit Punch”), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Laverne Cox “Lesbian Request Denied” and Natasha Lyonne “WAC Pack”), Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series (“Lesbian Request Denied”), Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (“I Wasn’t Ready”), and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series (“Tall Men With Feelings” and “Can’t Fix Crazy”).


Red always cooks up the best for the girls…

I don’t have Netflix…but this series might change that soon!  With great writing and a strong cast, the series makes it worth the monthly fee.  Orange Is the New Black is one of the best “TV” shows out there right now!

Having talked to someone who worked at a prison (and with its writer having really experienced prison life), much of the prison aspect of the story is accurate and that aspect of the story makes it worth checking out.  Prison is one of those mysteries of life and those who end up in it rarely get to really reflect on the experience.  Here you get some “real” characters tied together for a great continuing story…it is fun to contrast this series to the grittier and harder Oz.

The cast is fantastic.  Taylor Schilling has to hold the series together as the “lead” but she is back by great characters (and even better actors).  The little nuances of the supporting cast like Kate Mulgrew (Red), Danielle Brooks (Taystee), Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes), Laura Prepon (Alex), Taryn Manning (Pennsatucky), and Laverne Cox (Sophia Burset) all come off as real characters despite limited screentime…even the authority figures feel rounded and three dimensional.  I’m not a huge fan of Jason Biggs in general, but he does work here.


Orange Is the New Black might just save your soul (ok…maybe not)

The show also looks great.  It is smartly shot and manages to present a fairly black-and-white place like prison with a lot of color and light.  When the show needs to go dark, the prison looks lifeless and destitute.  You get a real claustrophobic feel from Orange Is the New Black.

Orange Is the New Black is one of those shows that hits all the marks.  It is a smart dark-comedy with snappy writing but can also hang with the dramas.  The acting is top notch and the storylines pay off.  It is a reason you can see providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are starting to actually compete with cable providers by actually putting out quality programming (at a much lower cost).  Check out Orange Is the New Black and enjoy!

Orange Is the New Black—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“I Wasn’t Ready”

1.1       I Wasn’t Ready Release Date:  05/11/13

Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is headed to jail for transporting drugs ten years ago for a girlfriend Alex Vause (Laura Prepon).  Now, Piper finds herself separated from her fiancé Larry (Jason Biggs) and trying to adjust to her life and her “roommates” while not stepping on any toes…which might not be easy.


“Tit Punch”

1.2       Tit Punch Release Date:  05/11/13

Chapman’s faux pas involving the cooking of Red (Kate Mulgrew) is causing Red to order a hunger strike on Piper.  Piper tries to deal with Alex being imprisoned with her and struggles to get food.  Daya (Dascha Polanco) tries to reach out to her mother Aleida Diaz (Elizabeth Rodriguez).  As Piper tries to make amends with Red, Red recalls how she landed in jail.


“Lesbian Request Denied”

1.3       Lesbian Request Denied Release Date:  05/11/13

The prison is going through cutbacks and Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox) learns that she is at risk of losing her estrogen pills.  Piper finds that she has a “wife” in Crazy-Eyes (Uzo Aduba) and wonders how to get rid of her.  Daya makes her moves on a young guard named John Bennett (Matt McGorry), and Larry tries to deal with life without Piper.  Piper finds herself reassigned to “the ghetto” and discovers she has Claudette (Michelle Hurst) as her bunkmate.


“Imaginary Enemies”

1.4       Imaginary Enemies Release Date:  05/11/13

Piper starts work at the electrical shop but a forgotten screwdriver could end up getting Piper in bigger trouble.  Miller (Madeline Brewer) seeks to get released and turned to Piper for help.  Claudette’s story as a migrant housekeeper is recalled as Claudette faces a possible early release.


“The Chickening”

1.5       The Chickening Release Date:  05/11/13

Piper sees a chicken in the yard…sparking the rumor of the fabled chicken’s return and problems with Red and the other inmates.  A collapse at the church forces raises tension when area is shared.  Daya continues her romance with John against her mother’s recommendation.  Sophia tries to get close to the Catholic leader Sister Ingalls (Beth Fowler) to get her estrogen pills.


“The WAC Pack”

1.6       WAC Pack Release Date:  05/11/13

When a prisoner’s privates is found on an prison internet porn site, the prison goes into crackdown mode to find the contraband phone.  To appease the prisoners, Sam Healy (Michael Harney) suggests prison elections and the prison divides even more.


“Blood Donut”

1.7       Blood Donut Release Date:  05/11/13

Piper finds that being a member of WAC isn’t all that it seemed it would be and that WAC has also made her a target of Pennsatusky (Taryn Manning).  Piper’s mistake with the screwdriver is discovered by Watson (Vicky Jeudy), and Watson’s past as a runner is revealed along with how she ended up in prison.  Red makes a new enemy when Mendez (Pablo Schrieber) comes to her with a drug smuggling scheme.  Taystee (Danielle Brooks) plans for her parole hearing and debates how to approach the meeting.  With a reward of the track, Piper must decide if she can turn in the contraband phone…and makes a new ally in guard Susan Fischer (Lauren Lapkus).


“Moscow Mule”

1.8       Moscow Mule Release Date:  05/11/13

A bug is spreading amongst the prisoners and everyone is fighting it.  Piper’s decision to turn against Healy might have ramifications…and an encounter with Alex in the laundry room could get her in trouble.  Larry’s article about Piper is published and Piper’s friend Polly (Maria Dizzia) finds herself in labor.  Mendez goes after Red and her outside source of supplies and tries to pressure her into bringing in drugs.  Daya learns that her sickness might not be the bug and that it could be a bigger problem.



1.9       Fucksgiving Release Date:  05/11/13

Taystee prepares for her release as the holidays approach but worries that she won’t survive on the outside.  Pennsatusky goes after Piper and Alex, and Piper ends up in the SHU.  The war between Mendez and Red increases as Mendez  threatens to accuse Red of smuggling drugs.  Daya and her mother set out to end her pregnancy problem.  Larry gets a big boost from his writing at a Thanksgiving dinner but bad news from Healy.


“Bora Bora Bora”

1.10     Bora Bora Bora Release Date:  05/11/13

Bennett is paid a visit by Cesar (Berto Colon), and Bennett learns that Daya is pregnant.  Tricia (Madeline Brewer) is out of detox but finds Red is keeping her from the kitchen and Mendez is expecting her back.  Alex sets out to get even with Pennsatusky by making her into a faith healer.  Scared Straight comes to the prison and the girls are ready…but a series of event unfold that will lead to a big explosion.

orange-is-the-new-black-season-1-11-tall-men-with-feelings-jason-biggs-maury-kind-interview-this-american-life-ira-glass-robert stanton

“Tall Men with Feelings”

1.11     Tall Men with Feelings Release Date:  05/11/13

The prison reacts to Tricia’s apparent suicide as Mendez tries to cover his tracks.  Daya tries to save Bennett from being fired and learns she might have to make a big sacrifice to do it.  Piper tries to make amends with Crazy-Eyes, and Pennsatusky finds herself in the psych ward trying to prove her sanity.  Alex recalls her breakup with Piper and the death of her mother.  Larry’s radio interview reveals secrets that Piper never expected.


“Fool Me Once”

1.12     Fool Me Once Release Date:  05/11/13

Piper deals with the fallout from Larry’s radio interview and learning that Alex fingered her in the court case.  Vaya’s set-up of Mendez leads to problems in the prison when he’s caught by Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow).  Pennsatusky is out of the psych ward due to Piper and finds herself in a question of faith.  Watson learns the truth about how Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman) got into prison.  Claudette prepares for her appeal board as Taystee finds herself back in the jail.  Pennsatusky’s crime is revealed as she decides it is her mission to save Piper.


“Can’t Fix Crazy”

1.13     Can’t Fix Crazy Release Date:  05/11/13

Christmas is coming and the prison is getting ready for the Christmas presentation.  Red finds the kitchen in control of Mendoza (Selenis Leyva) and goes to extreme means to sabotage it.  Bennett questions Daya’s actions with Mendez and finds Mendez’s perception of the events is different.  Larry prepares to marry Piper in prison and decides he has to meet Alex…which could change his plans.  Pennsatusky’s obsession with Piper turns dangerous, and Piper might have to make a move to protect herself.

Related Links:

Orange Is the New Black—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Orange Is the New Black—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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