How Real Is 'Orange is The New Black'?

by Keertana Sastry

Season 2 of the hit Netflix show Orange Is The New Black is back Friday with 13 episodes all ready for your viewing pleasure. In Season 1 Piper and Co. did some pretty terrible and crazy things and apparently the crazy streak continues in Season 2. But while we watch the chaos happily glued to our computers and TVs with drinks and snacks ready to go for 13 hours, it's hard not to wonder how true to real life this show really is. People have always had a fascination with prison life and we've seen it portrayed many, many times on TV and in film. While nothing may ever be as violent and graphic a portrayal as HBO's Oz — that show makes me shudder — it's easier to believe that guards insult and sometimes abuse women prisoners but it's not so easy to believe that someone could urinate on the floor of someone's sleeping area and no one would do anything about it or the culprit. Remember that? Of course you do. None of us can forget anything Crazy Eyes has done on this show.

So what's real and what's made up for entertainment value? We assessed the situation and the consensus is that while the show creates an overall feeling of realism, it's not the most realistic all the time. But then again, that's kind of the point.

The Tough Parts

For example, a former inmate identified the most with the character developments of many of the OITNB inmates in a story he wrote for Vice , especially the backstory of the late Tricia. Tricia, if you remember, was the youngest inmate at Litchfield and had a hard life outside of prison where she had to resort to theft to survive and was a drug addict. She sadly overdosed towards the end of Season 1. The Vice correspondent stated he liked that the show portrayed the women as humans first, then inmates and that Tricia's struggle was a very common story in prison.

The Religious Zealots

And if you're wondering, the answer is yes: According to Vice's prison correspondent, apparently there really are extremely religious factions within many prison communities. So Pennsatucky is not a complete fiction.

But It's Not All Realism

But there are moments that are clearly created for pure television entertainment. Members of the Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers — or CLAIM — told the Chicago Tribune that the show can be a mixed bag of realistic and unrealistic moments and at times, the show leaves out many important aspects of life in prison for many of these women.

Images: Netflix; Giphy