during the intervening years, Piper has moved on to a quieter
lifestyle with her fiancé, family, and friends a relative tranquility
that the indictment interrupts and ultimately terminates. Orange is
the New Black (2013- ) represents characters that have not been
frequently represented on television: members of the LGBTQ
community. In this wildly popular series, viewers are introduced to
explicit lesbian sex scenes, a transgender actress in a featured role,
and the bisexuality of a main character all of which are elements
rarely seen in mainstream media, not to mention scarcely depicted
all together on episodic television. This essay addresses the
implications of gender roles and relationships as portrayed in
Orange is the New Black and praises the series for innovatively
integrating modern ideas and fluid identities into the sitcom while
celebrating its potential for expanding the perspectives of closed-
minded American viewers.
The original memoir by Piper Kerman, Orange is the New
Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, articulates the reality of
incarceration based on Kerman’s personal experience and reveals
many flaws in the prison system: the plight of women who are
sexually abused by officials; the humiliation of strip searches,
which are subject to happen at any time; and the otherwise tedious
attempts to maintain relationships and connections with those
living outside prison walls (Sullivan). The book also attempts,
however, to bring light to the conditions of imprisonment, as the
storylines include the beautiful friendships that can develop during
incarceration, the joy of celebratory events such as birthdays, the
culmination of unique friendships and mother-daughter bonds,
and the gestation of new life, all of which help enlighten Kerman’s
prison experience. Contrary to the book, and significantly different
from events in the Netflix series, Alex Vause is not housed in the
same prison as Piper, and there is less lesbian interaction and
relationship-turbulence in the autobiography than in the television
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