In defense of Chapman: Orange in the New Black

I love a good series. I truly enjoy watching the characters develop over time, and if there is some romance, drama, and a few laughs along the way I am content. Occasionally there is a character that comes along that I just adore, and at the same time want to smack upside the head. In Orange is the New Black, the Netflix series that returns to us with season 2 in June,  Piper Chapman is that character.

Netflix has done a great job with the various series that they have produced and Orange is the New Black is no different. When we first meet Piper, or Chapman as she is known in prison, (and that is prison, not jail) she seems like a silly, scattered, shell shocked young woman with no idea of what she got herself into.  At first we have no idea how she landed herself in prison, there was a moment when I wondered when we would ever find out, and then you do and it makes only a little sense. Chapman has a boring, but truly sweet Jewish boyfriend, turned fiance at the last minute, and an apparently troubled and lesbian past. She has a tense relationship with her own parents, and a tense relationship with her future in-laws. Like most of us, she will need therapy at some point for the issues that she gained from her mother. She has friends, and a fairly normal life…and then bam…prison…15 months in prison to be exact.

The first time I tried to watch this series I only made it through the first episode. I watched that and didn’t think there was anything to the series so I gave up on it. Then I mentioned it to a friend at work who told me that she really enjoyed it. Based on that recommendation I tried it again and loved it. With my newly opened mind I discovered that Chapman is actually a strong woman. She is in prison, away from her family and fiance, her friends and her normal life…When most of us would have been hiding under the bed that she wasn’t allowed to sleep in, curled in the fetal position in need of some wine and a Valium, she bounces back again and again from some fairly traumatic situations.

.@oitnbmemes (Orange Is The New Black Memes) 's Instagram photos | Webstagram - the best Instagram viewer

Not only is Piper strong, she is smart.Yes, she is well educated, which is a rarity in the prison that she finds herself in, but she is also quick on her feet. She thinks her way out of many situations that would otherwise be rather perilous for her. Her true talent is that she is smart enough to get herself out of the situations that her inexperience with prison life get her into. She says the wrong thing, but she figures her way out of it. She also uses her knowledge to help other inmates with their appeals which wins her friends that she would not otherwise have.

More than being strong enough to survive and smart enough to think her way out of sticky situations, Piper is kind. This is not to say that she is perfect. She makes some fairly stupid decisions, and she hurts some of the people around her, but fundamentally she is kind. She attempts to help her fellow inmates rather than intimidate them or be super tough. She is a complex character, but definitely a good one. Check out the show if you haven’t already. I promise that it is worth it.

 

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