Piper Chapman goes to prison
This part is so crazy because it’s true. The entire show is based on the premise of real-live ex-con Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same title (Kerman is still executive consultant on the series). Of course, Kerman’s experience isn’t as dramatic as Piper Chapman–while Kerman was arrested only six years after committing a nonviolent drug trafficking offense, in the show ten years have passed since Chapman had involved herself with a drug ring connected to her former girlfriend, Alex.
In that decade Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling) had reinvented her life and settled down in a picturesque Brooklyn brownstone with her (male) fiancé, Larry. She and her best friend Polly (of course her name is Polly) are trying to launch an artisanal soap company. All of this is violently up-ended by the sudden news of Chapman’s offense and past lesbian relationship (which I guess had been a secret up to that point). Who is this woman, after all?
As a Brooklynite who is familiar with the stereotype embodied by Piper Chapman, there’s something kind of vindicating about watching this all go down. To be honest I found Piper Chapman’s character to be completely nauseating and unlikable–not that all characters must be likable to be good, but there was no part of me that wanted to watch this person’s story unfold. She is the archetype of white upper-class entitlement, and no matter what happens to her she ultimately will come out unscathed–which was probably what she was thinking when she got involved in that drug ring. “But I’m a pretty nice white woman! I went to college! I couldn’t go to prison!” Guess again, Miss America! This pilot set up Piper Chapman well before knocking her down and taking her on this wild ride.