'Orange is the New Black' is Back: A Reading List on the Representation of Prison

Now that we’ve all had a chance to finish watching Orange is the New Black (who am I kidding — we all binge watched it in a day or two, right?), I thought I’d share four pieces that clarify and critique the way prison is represented on the show. The first two pieces cover season one, for all you newbies out there. The second two address the most recent season.

1. “Five Formerly Incarcerated Women on Prison, Relationships, and Orange is the New Black.” (Kat Stoeffel, The Cut, August 2013)

At The Fortune Society, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated women readjust to life outside, five women sat down for a screening of Orange is the New Black. Here are their thoughts.

2. “How ‘Real’ is Orange is the New Black? Comparing the Show to the Memoir to the Numbers.” (Riese, Autostraddle, August 2013)

At Autostraddle, Riese breaks down the differences among Piper Kerman’s memoir, the first season of the Netflix series, and statistics about incarcerated women.

3. “‘Where the Fuck are All the Guards?’ An Ex-Con Review Orange is the New Black. (Adam Dawson, Washington City Paper, June 2014)

At first, Sarah K. was reluctant to watch OITNB. “Dude, why in the hell would I want to watch a show about the worst four years of my fucking life?” she wrote Dawson. But she came around “because she was ‘tired of reading about some Wellesley graduate on the Internet talking about how goddamned real that show is. As if she would know.'” Sarah is hilarious and honest. Don’t miss her reviews of episodes three and fourfive and six.

4. “What Life is Actually Like in the Prison From Orange is the New Black. (Samantha Allen, Mic, June 2014)

Several scenes of Season 2 were filmed in Riverhead Jail in Suffolk County on Long Island, New York. Were they true-to-life? Spoiler alert: Not so much. In fact, the Suffolk County prison system is facing charges of inhumane living conditions from the New York Civil Liberties Union. Read about the horrifying realities of rodents, showering, food and more.