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  1. I didn't pay much attention to Orange is the New Black when it first appeared on Netflix--never got more than a couple of episodes into Weeds, Jenji Kohan's previous show; not a fan of most of the cast (Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Jason Biggs); and it also wasn't hyped the way House of Cards or Arrested Development were--but after it got several positive reviews, I checked it out. It's about Piper Chapman (Schilling), who is going to prison because she helped her girlfriend at the time (Prepon) transport drug money. That was ten years earlier, and she's engaged now (to Biggs) and living a normal life, before her crime was found out. I don't think it's as great as some of the reviewers seem to, but it is much better than I was expecting. The tone--it's comedic, but also goes for drama and realism--is difficult to balance, but it works. There's more to the show than I thought, as well. It focuses mainly on Schilling's character, but you also get to know the other inmates, both through their stories in prison and through Lost-lite style flashbacks that show how they ended up in jail. A lot of the performances are quite good, especially Schilling, Natasha Lyonne (another American Pie veteran), Laverne Cox as a transgender woman, and Kate Mulgrew as Red, the Russian prison chef. The episodes are often built around seemingly mundane things--losing a screwdriver, seeing a chicken--that become a big deal in the prison setting. Orange is not for everyone, though. It's quite frank about sexuality, and there are more shower scenes than is really necessary. It's definitely HBO-level, in terms of content. Oh, and Regina Spektor did the theme song.
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