Orange is the New Black – A Bookish TV Show Review

Orange is the New BlackThe 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. 

14 Comments

Filed under Book To Movie Challenge, Memoir, non-fiction

14 Responses to Orange is the New Black – A Bookish TV Show Review

  1. I have only seen the first two episodes and wasn’t in love with the show before I read the book…. and now that I’ve read it I’m not sure I want to watch the rest. The book was great in its own way and I don’t know that I want to see all of the added drama. Maybe when some time has passed I’ll give it a shot (you know, when I can separate the two in my head).
    Allison @ The Book Wheel recently posted…‘Lost Memory’ Is a Social Commentary on Sex Offenders and HomelessnessMy Profile

  2. I think the book benefits from a dramatized version…more emotional appeal like you said. But I only watched the first two episodes as well and lost interest. Just not my thing I guess.
    Jennine G. recently posted…A Charles Dickens ChristmasMy Profile

  3. I haven’t read the book and wasn’t planning to watch the show, but it was just staring at me on Netflix the other day so I watched the first episode. I was surprised how much I liked it right away, maybe because Piper is an everyday girl going to prison and we can relate to her naivete and fear.
    C.J. recently posted…Secret Santa … With A Twist!My Profile

  4. It seems as though I might be working opposite!! I watched the entire show in two days, and couldn’t stop watching. I need MORE. I bought the memoir on Cyber Monday, but I am nervous to read it because I loved the characters/drama so much in the show that I fear the memoir will pale a little in comparison, haha.
    Courtney @ The Lit Girl recently posted…A Very Bookish ChristmasMy Profile

  5. I don’t know why I haven’t picked up this book or tried the TV show yet. The idea of going to prison and getting a book/TV deal out of it? Because going to prison seems so terrible that I don’t want to imagine it? Thanks for this review, so I know that, of both, I should try the book first.
    Laurie C recently posted…Weekend Cooking: Gluten-Free Thanksgiving #weekendcookingMy Profile

  6. It’s interesting to hear your perspective since you did it the “right” way (reading FIRST then watching)! Thanks for sharing!
    Rebecca @ Love at First Book recently posted…The House Girl: A Review in Few Words & GifsMy Profile

    • Haha, indeed. I always try to read the book first, but there are a number of movies where I’m planning on going back and reading the book this year. I’ve noticed that I often like whichever I read/watch first better, but that’s not always the case.

  7. I definitely agree that TV Piper felt more invested and immersed in her experience. But I really, really don’t like her, at all, in the show. I liked Book Piper a lot better, even though I watched the show before reading the book. Weird!

    • Based on the two episodes I watched, I didn’t have strong feelings about TV Piper as a person. I did find her more relatable though, so I am surprised that you dislike her. Will you be going on with the show or does her character bother you too much?

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