The TV adaptation of Orange is the New Black was both better and worse than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised by the perfection of the casting. Not all of the characters were exactly as I imagined them, but they were all instantly identifiable. I was even more surprised and impressed by how much more relatable Piper was in the TV show. As much as I adore books, I often find movies more emotionally moving. Sorrow, love, violence… intense situations and emotions almost always affect me more viscerally on the screen. Orange is the New Black was no exception. Seeing Piper and her husband react to the beginning of her jail sentence made me even more empathetic than reading about it. In the book, Piper often seemed like a dispassionate observer of her situation. Despite an internal monologue shared with the viewer, Piper seemed more immersed in her situation in the show.
My expectations for the TV show version of Orange is the New Black were largely shaped by a book club hosted by Allison at The Book Wheel and Rebecca at Love At First Book. Everyone who had seen the show commented on how much more drama there was in the show. I agree completely! What surprised me was how much the added drama bothered me. In the book, lesbian relationships occur but are mostly glossed over. In the book, there is nearly no relationship drama. In the TV show, both are front and center. I don’t think lesbian relationship usually bother me in shows. General relationship drama is both unavoidable and something of a guilty pleasure. In this show though, I knew it had been added on to what was already a perfectly good story. This left me feeling as though the creators of the show were catering to the lowest denominator – people who couldn’t enjoy this story for its insight into life in a women’s prison without naked women and drama to entertain them. I do think it could be an enjoyable show, but the feeling that they were ruining a perfectly good book made it hard for me to like it.