All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of 2013.
Previous #10: Pope Francis
#9: Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Just one season in, Orange is the New Black is gathering huge momentum and ringing endorsements. Based on the memoir of Piper Kerman and set in a women’s prison in New York state, it revolves around Kerman (Taylor Schilling), an upper-middle class woman serving a 15-month sentence for transporting drug money for her former lover and drug dealer Alex (Laura Prepon). Though it has come under criticism for its less than completely accurate portrayal of prison life, it makes up for it with its impressive and diverse female cast, and the depth and believability of its characters. Its women are never caricatures, and their diverse personal histories are treated with respect.
Kerman’s efforts to survive in prison make for an absorbing (if not completely original) clash between upper-middle class mores and the seedy power-grabbing of the underworld. How the series continues to develop that clash, and whether it can resist the temptation to abandon those themes and devolve into a prison soap opera, are questions that will define it’s impact.
Orange is the New Black’s treatment of gender, class, and race has caught the attention and admiration of critics, and it has the quality of writing and acting to justify its early momentum.