I wasn’t planning to watch the Netflix dramedy “Orange is the New Black.” I felt I had too many books to read and movies to review — not to mention kids to raise and a household to run. But, during a conversation with my friend Jessica earlier this week, she referenced the show twice, and if Jess mentions something, it’s always good. Two days and seven episodes later, it’s obvious my husband and I are hooked.
I watched nearly all of “Weeds,” but the final couple of seasons really jumped the shark — or the stash house, as the case might be. Still, it was a clever show, so I figured I’d give another Jenji Kohan-created series a try. The two shows, it will come as no surprise, have a lot in common: a white suburban shiksa is caught up in a drug-smuggling ring (run by her post-college girlfriend) that lands her in prison… a decade after she committed the crime. But unlike “Weeds,” “Orange” is based on a true story — the memoir of Piper Kerman.
Taylor Schilling (“The Lucky One”) plays Piper Chapman, who has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for transporting drug money when she was a naive 22-year-old Smith grad. Laura Prepon plays the drug-dealing ex-girlfriend Alex, and the rest of the cast includes Natasha Lyonne, a brilliant Kate Mulgrew (“Deep Space Nine”) as the Russian head of kitchen duty. Jason Biggs (or “American Pie” fame) plays Piper’s fiance, who’s willing to wait her out but is desperately lonely (and, um, horny) without her.
The show has a fantastic, diverse cast and compelling storylines that are reminiscent of HBO’s landmark prison series “Oz” but, you know, funnier, with women and a lot less psycho rape. Once you start watching, you just can’t stop.