Prison comes with a shiv-sharp learning curve. Fortunately, for viewers of Orange Is The New Black, the latest project from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, we have a few pointers to share.
The Netflix original series (premiering Thursday) follows girl-next-door Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling, Mercy), who once smuggled drug money for former girlfriend Alex (Laura Prepon, That ’70s Show) and now faces 15 months in jail. Before the series bows, keep these five tidbits from the creator and cast on your radar.
IT’S NOT A DIRECT TRANSLATION OF THE BOOK… | Orange is based on the real-life tale of Piper Kerman, who wrote a memoir of her experience in a women’s prison in 2010. But how much did Kohan rely on that firsthand account? “You know, at some point, we just abandon it,” she laughs. “I love Piper, and I e-mail her all the time when I want to get the facts right. [But] the book, while fantastic, is relatively conflict-free, and we have to make a TV show.”
…BUT IT DOESN’T SKIMP ON DETAILS | Although the show is an adaptation of Kerman’s memoir, the author said many of the show’s little details really do happen in jail – even the weird ones, like Piper wearing maxi pads on her feet while showering. “Those things are, if not literal, then incredibly close,” Kerman admits. “That’s exactly the kind of resilience and resourcefulness that you have to have if you’re gonna make it.”
IT’S NOT YOUR AVERAGE COMEDY | Describing Orange as a dramedy seems too easy. But American Pie’s Jason Biggs (who stars as Piper’s loving fiancee) gives anyone expecting belly laughs fair warning about the show’s “specific tone” of humor. “It’s funny, but there’s also some real intensity and real humanity to the whole thing,” he says.
IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO TUCK THE KIDS IN BED FIRST | Sex, drugs and nudity are cornerstones of the show’s pilot episode – in the first 10 seconds alone! But after Showtime gave her the freedom to be racy on Weeds, Kohan says she thinks “streaming, cable and Netflix” are the best arenas for a “no-holds-barred” approach like the one she takes on Orange. “That’s where I’m gonna go these days,” she laughs.
IT TUGS AT THE HEARTSTRINGS | For every gasp-inducing prison scene that Orange offers, Schilling says the show provides a healthy dose of compassion to balance the scales. “I was really surprised by the strong relationships between the women in prison and the alliances and support they give each other,” she says. “I was surprised by how much they take care of each other.”
Netflix doesn’t play by regular rules. Netflix do what Netflix wanna do! The DVD rental service turned online streaming powerhouse turned television revolutionary has made a bold move that only whippersnappers like Starz want to do. Netflix has ordered a 13-episode second season of its new series Orange is the New Black, even though the first season hasn’t yet aired. Season 2 is scheduled to launch in 2014.
Whaaaaaaaaat!? Yep, that’s what we call a vote of confidence in this industry. Netflix must feel what we’ve currently only prognosticated from the series’ excellent trailer (which I’ve embedded below). Orange is the New Black comes from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, and the series is an adaptation of the memoir of the same name. It’s about a womens’ prison, guys! And it looks really good!
Netflix previously ordered a second season of its first original drama, House of Cards, before that show’s first season even aired. But that was always in the—ahem—cards, as 26 episodes for two seasons were ordered right off the bat. More recently, Netflix ordered a second season of its horror drama Hemlock Grove, but only after Season 1 aired. The early renewal of Orange is the New Black obviously means Netflix really likes what it sees. Renewals before a show even airs aren’t common, but they do happen. Starz, for example, has been quick on the trigger, recently ordering a second season of Boss before its first season ever aired and renewing Da Vinci’s Demons after one episode. Boss has since been canceled.
Netflix will release the entire first season of Orange is the New Black on Thursday, July 11.
If you enjoyed the first season of Hemlock Grove, there’s a good chance that a second season will go into development. Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, recently spoke to THR about the possibility of a second season: “We’re hearing the pitches for the second season with plotlines and storylines now.”
Regarding the mixed reaction that the series received from horror fans, Sarandos talked about who the show appealed to: ”Hemlock is much more polarizing; you either love it or hate it. The crossover for the people who love the show was American Horror Story, not The Vampire Diaries. It was incredibly popular in the Nordics because of the popularity of the Skarsgards [Bill Skarsgard stars] and in Latin America, where the horror genre is very big… The other thing I look at is the tween segment. Hemlock Grove is horror, but it’s not really CW horror; it’s much more adult than that. So I think that we’d like to look at some series in that category.”
For those that haven’t seen Hemlock Grove, its a 13-episode Netflix original series produced by Eli Roth. All episodes are currently available on Netflix’s streaming service.
“The Netflix Original Series “Hemlock Grove,” a riveting and eerie mystery from executive producer Eli Roth and based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, will be available for members to watch instantly and in its entirety beginning April 19, 2013.
All 13-episodes of the series, which stars Famke Janssen (“X-Men”), Bill Skarsgard (“Simon & The Oaks”), Landon Liboiron (“Terra Nova”), Penelope Mitchell (“6 Plots”), Freya Tingley (“X”), and Dougray Scott (“Mission Impossible II”) will debut concurrently in all territories that Netflix is available – U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Latin America, Brazil and Scandinavia.
The series revolves around the eccentric residents of a dilapidated former Pennsylvania steel town and the murder of 17-year-old Brooke Bluebell. Through the investigation, the town’s seamier side is exposed, revealing that nothing is what it seems.
“Hemlock Grove” marks the first foray into television by internationally acclaimed horror master Eli Roth (“Hostel,” “Cabin Fever”), who also directed the first episode. The series is executive produced by Roth, McGreevy & Shipman, Mark Verheiden, Deran Sarafian, Eric Newman and Michael Connolly. The series was developed by Brian McGreevy & Lee Shipman. This one-hour murder mystery is produced by Gaumont International Television for Netflix.”