I’m quite familiar with Orange is the New Black, becoming a fan of the series shortly after I moved to Arizona a year ago. Since then I have even watched the show several times, this being my third time around with the first season. And even being an avid fanatic of the show and watching it several times you don’t really look at the details or aspects of the story until you begin to watch it with the intent in mind to discuss it analytically later on. Strangely when you do this it actually makes the story more interesting. You are viewing it in another way than you may have been before.
Well with my third time around I found myself sympathizing with Chapman a lot less. Before I felt for her, thinking it must be awful to go through an ordeal like hers, being sent to a prison for “simply” abiding a drug smuggling ring. Well not anymore. Chapman is just another privileged white girl who believes that her actions were not of her own and the reason for her imprisonment was due to another. In “I Wasn’t
Ready” when Counselor Healy is going over Chapman’s criminal conspiracy charges she responds, “That’s what they charged me with.” Disassociating herself from the charges and not taking responsibility for them, simply pushing the blame off to someone else again.
In addition through the pilot and “Tit Punch” we see how their is a strict social and even racial hierarchy among the inmates. Chapman has barely been in Litchfield Penitentiary 24 hours before she is accepted into the dominant white social group. The racial grouping is evident when secondary character Loma Morella gives Chapman a toothbrush saying “We look out for our own.” Red is seen as being an inmate to dominant the prison food chain, easily influencing those around her. She’s able to effortlessly have those around her starve out Chapman without hesitation proving not only a hierarchy but how vital family-like relationships are created in the system. These relationships prove to be of valuable necessity if one wants to survive behind bars which Chapman quickly realizes after being shut out by Red’s girls and withheld food for several days.
From the moment the show began we could tell that it contained a well diverse cast, which helps to reel in a diverse audience as well. Since as the show progress a view can easily find a character to whom they connect with or relate to. And on the topic of diversity standard shows simplyhave the story follow the main protagonist and subtly hint towards other characters lives in the background. But interestingly in OITNB we get a deep first hand look into Red’s backstory, allowing us not only to understand her character on another level but to see how her character development will play out. These flashbacks will play a vital role through the series and even cause some of us viewers to raise questions like , “How did they get to this point?” or “What does the contrast from their past to present self tell us about them?” Watching the show again with a different perspective, as I’ve stated before, truly causes you to challenge your previous notations and look at the characters and story line at a deeper level.
For instance while reading chapter 10 of The Pop Culture Zone it suggested analyzing how the producers assign certain songs to a scene and how these songs describe the moment then and underlying details of the events going on. With this in mind I took a closer look at the shows intro, a song titled “You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spektor. Closely listening to the lyrics I found this verse to be not just words but something the directors possibly want us to think about:
Think of all the roads
Think of all their crossings
Taking steps is easy
Standing still is hard
Remember all their faces
Remember all their voices
Everything is different
The second time around
The lyrics pose a valid idea for the audience, as we watch the show to analyze how each character and theirs stories possibly connect to one another. And once we see the connections once we understand not only the story but these individuals that we should “remember all their faces/voices”. It brings up a topic that creator Piper Kerman brought up in her TED Talk that we watched in class last Tuesday. At the end of the TED Talk Kerman directly asks the inmates to voice themselves, to let their stories be know, to show that they are real people as well. And this is a great thought to keep in your brain as we watch the series that to constantly remember these woman and remember their stories because they are the characters of real people.