The Backstory behind “Orange is the New Black”
With all the buzz about “Orange is the New Black”, I had fun chasing down facts about the memoir of that name by Piper Kerman after binge viewing the huge hit, “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix. (See my last post for the review of the hit series).
In two separate interviews on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, Terry Gross interviews first Piper Kerman and then Jenji Kohan. It makes for fascinating listening!
To take a few examples: In the memoir Kerman does not actually experience solitary confinement. However, to show the desolation and dehumanizing boredom of prison, Jenji Kohan has the fictionalized Piper spend time in the SHU (solitary confinement). To show prison at its most extreme. In addition, the ending of the series is not the same as in the memoir but leads dramatically to the promised second season, when Piper’s experiences will almost certainly deviate further from the memoir and create its own plot and momentum.
The actresses who played the key roles are also brilliantly discussed in NPR’s interview of Kohan. The transgender actress, Laverne Cox, is seen in flashback while a male. But that was not possible with the actress’s female beauty. Serendipitously, Cox has a twin brother who played those scenes, unbeknownst to the producer and casting director at the time they cast Laverne. Another actress (Uzo Aduba) who plays “Crazy Eyes” was not considered quite right for the role she was auditioning for, so Kohan created a new character because she was so impressed by Aduba’s performance. That character became pivotal to the plot.
Enjoy listening to both NPR interviews! I can’t wait until Netflix’s second season, currently in production.