Must See -- Orange Is The New Black

Ever since Netflix changed the online streaming game with its original, here-are-all-the-episodes strategy, I have become a total sucker for new television shows. I've always liked TV, don't get me wrong. I definitely have "my" shows: Mad Men (that Draper angst gets me every time), Game of Thrones (once I read the books, I had to see the visuals), Nashville (Connie Britton is my idol), Pretty Little Liars (gives me common ground with my 15-year-old sister), Royal Pains (Evan's snark is awesome), Modern Family (a crowd favorite), HIMYM (duh), The Newsroom (I feel smarter every episode), The Mindy Project (Mindy is the epitome of relatable), House of Cards (I want to be a cutthroat consultant), Friday Night Lights (CONNIE BRITTON FOLKS) . . . and so on. Obviously because my list of favorites is so long, it's hard for me to pick up a new show here and there.

However, Orange Is The New Black is my brand new favorite. Here are 5 reasons why you should watch it.

1. It's based on a true story.

Piper, our lead protagonist, is a preppy, upper middle class young blonde with a fiance, Larry, and the life of her dreams--that is, until she goes to prison for the time she smuggled drugs with her lesbian lover ten years ago.

Piper 1

Read about the real Piper here, here, here and here.

2. It's endlessly interesting to learn about Piper's fellow inmates.

We've got Alex, Piper's sharp-tongued former lover, and general badass with a soft side:

Alex 2

Miss Claudette, Piper's mysterious roommate who demands order and cleanliness:

Miss Claudette

Red, the Russian head cook and unofficial leader of the entire prison community:

Red

Nicky, the sarcastic former drug addict with a penchant for rolling her eyes:

Nicky 1

Crazy Eyes, who falls in love with Piper and claims her as her prison wife:

Crazy Eyes

Taystee, the sassy, smart black woman who comes full circle throughout the season:

Taystee 2

and my personal favorite, Pensatucky, who is the most white trash, homophobic religious zealot I have seen portrayed on television in a very long time. In the most ridiculous way possible.

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Each character serves as a certain stereotype at first, but then you see bits and pieces of their past. And slowly, just as Piper does, you feel empathy for them, and you start to wonder what's going to happen to them. Or at least I do.

3. It's unapologetic and blunt in its portrayal of the politics and realities of the federal prison system, particularly regarding female criminals.

I pretty much had zero understanding of what going to prison would be for somebody like Piper, aside from just assuming it would be far from fun. Um, wow. There are endless rules and regulations in prison from both the general community (aka, don't insult the chef or you won't eat, know that it will take weeks for outside money to arrive in your commissary account, sleep only on top of the bed) and the prison guards, who implement their own version of twisted justice and power to varying degrees.

4. It can shift from funny as hell to "Oh my God" in a heartbeat.

Small plot twists are strung throughout the first season, so that fact combined with the flashbacks means you have no idea what you will learn during each episode.

5. Season 2 was just renewed.

So start watching now.