A few years ago I got hooked on Orange Is The New Black (Netflix). I think my brother recommended it to me (I can't keep track of how many awesome shows/films he recommends to me, I never have time to watch it all). I finished the first season in a week and I watched all the seasons after that in a similar fashion. The series started in 2013. Piper Chapman is sentenced with 15 months as a result of having been in a relationship with a drug smuggler when she was travelling abroad (a long time ago). From there on out we are introduced to a lot of other female characters (and some male guards), every episode introduces us to a new one and provides us with a bit of back-story of how that person ended up at Litchfield Penitentiary. It does not romanticise jail in any way. It makes it seem really goddamn hard and tough. They do what they need to, to survive on the inside. To keep themselves from going crazy (though some eventually do).
We first see how Piper slowly adjusts to her new life while still being in contact with her loved-ones outside of the prison. She get's stalked, starved, bullied and a lot of other things. However, as the series progresses, jail changes her and she becomes part of the crowd and its games. Especially after she reconnects with Alex (the smuggler girlfriend). In Season three she even ends up starting her own business while still being in prison (I won't tell you what it is because it's kinda funny). To be honest I don't really like Piper all that much. She thinks she's better than everybody else, she's naive and she thinks she's really bad-ass but she's actually just a bitch. But that's my opinion. At least most of the other girls admit that they did something wrong.
There are a lot of interesting characters in this TV-series. We have lesbians, junkies, a transgender, a Russian chef, Christians, Latina's, etc. There are a few characters on the show I really like (even though they have a lot of flaws). Starting with Stella Carlin, who comes into the series in Season 3. She is played by Ruby Rose, which should be enough of a reason to love this particular character (because well, she's hot). The character is originally from Australia and she was sentenced for drugs trafficking. She's covered in tattoo's, sarcastic, funny and has a cute crooked kinda smile. We get to know a little about her because Piper is really attracted to her (who can blame her really) and they soon form a sexual relationship. Unfortunately for Stella, she betrays Piper's trust and Piper ends up framing her for something she did not do two days before her release, which causes Stella to be send to another (more secure) facility. I like her character because she confuses Piper but also because she spices things up. She drives Piper away from Alex. Unfortunately, we only see her once in Season 4, when she tries to get close to Nicky, which brings me to the next character I like.
Nicky Nicols is played by Natasha Lyonne. We met her in season 1. She's an very active lesbian who is off and on drugs through the series (which is also how she ended up at Litchfield). She had a problematic relationship with her mother, who is rather rich and who was dating a guy who did not like kids, hence Nicky was raised by her nanny in a different house where she rarely saw her mother. All in all Nicky is a train-wreck. She gets into a lot of trouble and continuously hurts herself and the people around her but she is very likeable. She's also really sarcastic, funny, down to earth and witty. She considers some of the other female characters to be her family and she is treated as such by them as well. She gets send to another facility in season 3 as well, which if you ask me, was not necessary. But luckily for her she gets to come back in season 4 (yay!). Sadly, this is just after she starts drugs again (after having been clean for a while). When she returns to Litchfield she is welcomed with open arms, but the other member soon realise she is on drugs again which causes the 'family' to back off a little bit. Nicky sort of expects things to be the same but her longtime lover is now married and refuses to be with her, along with a few other changes.
Next up, Poussey Washington (played by Samira Wiley). I never completely understood why she was in there to begin with. She was sentenced with 6 years for trespassing and possession/dealing of weed (but not even a lot, just like a small amount). She's really tiny, pretty, funny, sweet, intelligent and tries to avoid confrontations and violence. She likes working in the library of the prison. She also secretly makes alcohol in the garden next to the library (where nobody ever comes). At one point she starts to misuse the alcohol she makes because of her depression. Her mom recently died and she really misses her. They used to have a good relationship and she regrets being in prison, due to which she missed her mom's last few years. In season 3 she starts a relationship with Brook Soso (who falls in love with people, not gender), who gets her out of her depression. Poussey is not a spectacular character, but that's what makes her so lovable. She gets excited about the things she loves and is really cute when she talks about those things. My favourite quote of her is: "You can't live your life according to maybe's".
Last but not least, the leader/mother of the 'family' is Galina Reznikov, portrayed by Kate Mulgrew, who goes by Red in the series. She loves cooking, and I mean looooves. If you ask me she's obsessed with food but in a good way. She likes to be on kitchen duty and takes care of the garden of the prison, where she grows a lot of vegetables. Outside of Prison she used to own a restaurant with her family. In the beginning of the series Piper offends her and due to that she gets starved by the kitchen staff. This showed how much power Red has in the prison. She takes care of those who are part of her family and breaks those that offend her or any other of the members of that group. She hates drugs and therefore struggles with Nicky from time to time, because she wants Nicky to stay clean. She's been in the prison for a while and first got there due to being involved with Russian Mafia (who made her and her husband store corpses in their restaurant). I really like her because she stands up for what she believes in and even though she can be cold and strict, she is a decent and loving human being.
These are just a few of the characters with deep backstories and good personalities. It's really hard to write a good summary of this show because of all the stuff that happens. All in all I really recommend this series. It's funny and heart-breaking and if you ask me it really makes you reconsider how tough and unfair life can be (considering most of the inmates are in there because of something really stupid and sometimes insignificant). I recently had a conversation with one of my housemates about this series and I came to the conclusion that Litchfield is like a small version of the world but because they are all in such a small place all the problems are really big and everything escalates really quickly. It reflects on our issues outside of that prison, like racism, sexism and everything.