Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Orange is the New Black

I had already watched the series, but vacation is all about reading, so I read the book. The selfish joyful part was the part when I was curled up on the couch, heading to the end, telling Josh I wasn't available to talk, because I had to find out how Piper's incarceration came to end.

Reading the book was a very interesting experience. As I was going along, I was slightly more annoyed than I was when watching the series. Piper comes off as holier than though, a friend to all, well-liked by all. Maybe that's true? Maybe it's just how she wanted to frame herself? I found the descriptions of the characters to be much less developed, less specific, and therefore less interesting than in the show. And even though you get a sense of the racial diversity in prison from the book, you don't get a visceral sense of it, and you don't get to know about and care about the other prisoners the way you can in the TV show.

But somehow, in the aggregate, the book gives a deeper sense of the fucked-up political reality of prison than the show does. Kernan is explicit about how ridiculous and unproductive incarceration is for most people, and what a joke the programs are, especially the ones geared toward re-entry. At the same time, she does make it clear that it wasn't until she got to prison that she saw the truly destructive effects of her own involvement in the drug trade. So there's that.

I am curious what other people think. Have you watched the show? Read the book?

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