All manner of spoilers below.
Nearly anyone with a grievance against America's dysfunctional prison system can find a scene to illustrate their protest in the first season of Orange Is the New Black, Netflix's women-behind-bars dramedy. Admittedly, the wonkiest or most disheartening issues, like prison privatization or endemic sexual assault, appear to be beyond the show's purview. But anyone morally uncomfortable with the lockup of nonviolent drug offenders, or the inadequacy of rehab programs for inmates, or the prioritization of cost-cutting over adequate healthcare can find support in Piper and Tricia and Sophia's stories.
In case you've been behind bars since Orange's premiere last month, the series is a loose adaptation of Piper Kerman's memoir, detailing her year-long stint in a prison for her tangential role in a drug-trafficking ring nearly a decade before her arrest.
Following the book's structure, show creator Jenji Kohan uses Piper's plight as a launching pad for delving into the stories of the much less privileged prisoners around her, creating a richly textured mosaic of women from diverse races, classes, and sexualities, whose sole commonality is the bad luck to get caught. But the series veers away from its source material in its central love triangle, with the fictional Piper torn between her nebbish fiancé, Larry, and her mordant ex, Alex, who named Piper in court in exchange for a reduced sentence and dons an orange jumpsuit herself.