The book, Orange Is the New Black, and the Netflix series talk about a character who goes to prison for fifteen months. The police arrest her for mistakes she did in the past. There are some differences between the book and the series in terms of characterization, themes, and organization. This paper contrasts the two pieces of literature in terms of themes, plot, characterization, and setting of the stories. The movie has slightly altered the plot, changed characters’ names, and emphasized certain themes that the book leaves out. The creator of the movie alters the original story with the purpose of making it better and more appealing to the audience than it was when Piper Kerman wrote it.
In the book, Piper writes more on her family and less on her fellow inmates. On the other hand, the TV show presents a slightly different story. It highlights the lives of other prisoners and goes ahead to present flashbacks of inmates’ lives before prison. It gives little attention to Piper and her family, yet the storyline has a foundation on her imprisonment. The show presents a story that depicts the behavior of people in prisons (Zernike 4). Piper expresses the reality in the world basing on the prison population in America. There are more African-American inmates compared to white Americans, and most of them are women from the middle class. Moreover, when she gets to prison, she socializes with other inmates despite having gone to school and being a good citizen (Stuever 4).
The book presents some characters with names that are different from those in the series. For example, the producer of the movie calls Piper’s lesbian friend Alex while the book calls her Nora (Kerman 3). In addition, Piper’s second name in the book is Kerman, but the TV show presents her as Piper Chapman. Therefore, the movie producer deliberately changes the names of these characters with the view of recreating the story. The use of different names for characters in the show creates a new understanding of the story.
There is a conflict between the two main characters; Piper and Alex, in the T.V show (My Year in a Women’s Prison ep. 4). They engage in criminal activities, with Piper as an accomplice and Nora, a drug trafficker. The two characters develop a unique plot for the series, satirizing the real world of the Americans (Goodman 6). In the book, the two characters go to different prisons due to their previous relationship. The TV show, however, puts the two women in the same prison. The producers create a plot that involves Piper and Alex rekindling their relationship without considering that Piper is engaged to Larry, a newspaper editor. However, in the book, Piper and Alex, land in the same prison but do not restart their romantic relationship. Their love suffers despite the existence of emotional attachment. Piper states that they lived a life that was full of tension before they got to prison. The book does not show any scene of romantic love between the two lovers, whereas the series presents some romantic scenes (Stuever 10).
In the book, Piper insults Pop, who is in charge of food in prison. Pop, however, does not punish her as the show presents it. She tells her:
“Listen, honey, I know you just got here, so I know that you don’t understand what’s what. I’m gonna tell you this once. There’s something here called “inciting a riot,” and that kind of shit you’re talking about… you can get in big trouble for that… so take a tip from me, and watch what you say” (Kerman 15). The show, on the other hand, exaggerates the scenario by making Pop punish Piper for insulting the food she had prepared. The book depicts the relationship between Pop and Piper as being good. This relationship seems strong because she dedicated the book Orange Is the New Black to her family, Larry, and Red. Red is Pop’s real name.
Finally, the relationship between Piper and Larry in the show does not seem to be good. It gives the impression that Kerman had been avoiding to write about Larry in the book. It is not easy to maintain a relationship when one partner is in prison. The book does not portray a breaking relationship. In addition, an essay Larry wrote about modern love strengthens their relationship.
In conclusion, the Netflix series of Orange Is the New Black has borrowed many ideas from Piper Kerman’s memoir. However, it has further explored the themes, plots, characters, and setting to create a memorable show for the audience. The show manipulates the themes and plots to enhance the story of Kerman’s experiences in prison. This manipulation leads to differences between the book and the TV series, which this work has discussed. These differences add imaginations to the original story, making it more appealing than it was when the writer first wrote it.
Goodman, Tim. “Orange is the New Black: Review.” The Hollywood Reporter : The Weekly Report Mag., 2014. Web.
Kerman, Piper. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. Random House LLC, 2011.
“My Year in a Women’s Prison.” Orange is the New Black. WCBS-TV, New York. 2013. Television.
Stuever, Hank. “Netflix’s Orange is the New Black: Brilliance behind bars.”The Washington Post. 2013. Web.
Zernike, Kate. “Orange is the New Black Recap: Taystee! How Could You?” New York Times, 2014. Web.