Orange is the New Black starts off the show by introducing newly prison inmate Piper Chapman after charged with smuggling drug money internationally with her previous lesbian love affair. She committed the crime five years before the time of her sentence, of which she surrendered to the prison officials. Now, she is struggling to adjust to prison life.
I am focusing on discussing the writing of “I Wasn’t Ready”, the first episode of Orange is the New Black, which was written by Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan, and directed by Michael Trim. Liz Friedman has in the past written known shows such as Conviction, Law & Order, Notorious, and even produced House M.D. Jenji Kohan has also written other shows such as Weeds and The Stones, a pair of older shows that were produced before the 2000s.
Throughout this first episode, Kehan and Friedman do a superb job of setting the tone of the show. During Piper’s first several minutes in prison, it is evident that the writers created many different personalities to accompany the characters in the show. For example, Piper’s dialogue I’ve noticed is on the straightforward side. She likes to get her point across but is rather hesitant in voicing her opinion against people of higher power, such as the security guards in the prison. With Red, it is seen in the first episode that she acts along with her will and power in the system, being the chef of the prison. This is directly seen when she discreetly gave Piper an unpleasant meal after Piper accidentally insulted the prison’s food in front of her at the lunch table. Not only these two characters, but it is seen that there are numerous types of varying attributes assigned to everyone in the prison, creating a unit of diversity and makes the interaction between the inmates more interesting. It is also noticed that in the dialogue, the writers utilize many metaphors and references to past events and culturally separated groups to signify the division within the prison mates.
A component highly worth discussing in the first episode was the initial voiceover at the beginning of the show, where Piper’s voiceover describing both her life back home and life in the prison, signifying the difference in environments and truly assisted in introducing the plot effectively.
The way the first episode was structured by Friedman and Kehan was extremely well-done, the plot was clear to understand and the various transitions with scenes and character personalities kept me engaged and interested the whole way. Overall, it left me wanting to keep watching.