The hit series, Orange is the New Black hit our Netflix ques in summer of 2013. The show was an instant hit and has since been renewed for a second season, which will premiere June 6, 2014. Season one introduced us to Piper Chapman, a woman sentenced to fifteen months in federal prison for her part in a drug smuggling operation that occurred ten years prior. While in prison, Piper meets an array of women, each with their own problems and flaws. Surprisingly, Orange is the New Black offers up valuable lessons that everyone can learn something from – even if you’re not serving time. Here are ten lessons the hit Netflix series has taught audiences about life – thus far.
10. You Never Really Know A Person.
Piper Chapman and Larry Bloom are a happily engaged couple living in New York. The seemingly perfect couple have their whole lives in front of them, until Piper reveals her past to Larry. Larry learns that Piper is bisexual and that at one point in her life, she was in a serious relationship with a woman named, Alex. Alex was the catalyst that propelled Piper into the drug smuggling operation, in which she trafficked drug money one time. The couple has to deal with the consequences when Piper is sentenced to fifteen months in prison. Larry is shocked by the news of his seemingly wholesome and virtuous fiance. This revelation teaches the life lesson, that you never really know a person.
9. Know Your Audience
Galina Reznikov, also known as, Red is a powerful inmate and head of the kitchen at Litchfield Federal Penitentiary. In episode two, a flashback of Red reveals a glimpse into her life before prison. Red is pushed by her husband, to socialize with the wives of Russian mobsters. Unfortunately, Red’s loud and abrasive personality clashes with them. Red attempts to tell a joke to the uptight Russian wives and says, “…he’s not an eggplant. He is retarded.” The wives do not laugh and afterwards ignore and exclude Red from their morning walks. Red realizes that she is being excluded and ambushes the Russian wives. Responding impulsively, Red declares, “It’s fucking funny,” and punches one of the woman, popping her breast implant. Although we do not know the full joke that Red told, we know that it did not go over well. This incident teaches the life lesson, when telling jokes or interacting with other people, it’s important to know your audience.
8. The Past Doesn’t Always Stay In The Past
Piper Chapman, the lovable but flawed main character of the series takes a plea deal for her ten-year-old crime. This lands her in federal prison for fifteen months. Although Piper smuggled drug money ten years prior, she is now suffering the consequences. This serves as an invaluable life lesson, that the past doesn’t always stay in the past. Before making any big decisions, don’t just consider tomorrow. Consider your entire future – or at least until the statute of limitations expires.
7. Never Take ‘No’ For An Answer
Crazy Eyes, also known as Suzanne, is a fellow inmate at Litchfield Federal Penitentiary. When Piper enters prison, Crazy Eyes is immediately attracted to her. She tries to convince Piper to be her prison wife several times, but Piper declines. Through several interactions, Suzanne’s kind and thoughtful personality is revealed. Crazy Eyes protects Piper, stands up for her and helps her out by giving her peppers, so she can make amends with Red. Piper and audiences are given a glimpse into who Crazy Eyes really is and are able to see her as a person. Although Suzanne is turned down over and over again, she never takes, ‘No’ for an answer. This is an invaluable lesson, that can be applied to all areas of life – not just when trying to court your prison wife.
6. Stay True To You
Sophia Burset is a transgender woman in federal prison for credit card fraud. Through a series of flashbacks, we’re given a glimpse of who Sophia was prior to prison. She was a firefighter named Marcus and was married to a woman named, Crystal. Marcus was unhappy being a man and made the transition to a woman with the support of his wife. In order to pay for hormone therapy and a transgender operation, Sophia committed fraud. While in prison, her hormone dosage is reduced and Sophia rallies against the prison in order to reinstate her correct dosage. Sophia exemplifies the life lesson, stay true to you.
5. Think Twice Before You Speak
When Piper first entered prison, she clearly had a problem with thinking before she spoke. First, she offended Red by insulting the kitchen food. When questioned by fellow inmate, Nicky, on how she landed in prison. Piper naively responds, “You’re not supposed to ask that – I read about it.” Later in the season, Piper’s fiance Larry is interviewed on a radio show about his relationship with Piper. He reveals everything Piper has told him about her fellow inmates. The comments are particularly hurtful towards Crazy Eyes and Miss Claudette, who are listening to the show. Piper is once again in trouble because of her bluntness. She serves as an example of the life lesson, think twice before you speak.
4. Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You
When Piper is introduced to Red for the first time, Red offers Piper a yogurt as a gift. Not knowing that Red runs the kitchen, Piper thanks her and says, “The food here is disgusting.” She apologizes and Red responds, “If you don’t like the food. It’s no problem.” The next day, Piper is served a bloody tampon sandwich. She is told by her fellow inmates, that she needs to make nice with Red. Following the incident, Piper is starved out by the kitchen staff, until she is able to get Red to forgive her. Piper’s unfortunate situation teaches the valuable life lesson, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
3. Never Let Your Temper Get The Best Of You
Tiffany Doggett, the overly religious and seemingly psychotic inmate manages to be a prime example for a life lesson. In a flashback in episode twelve, Tiffany is seen in an abortion clinic, receiving her fifth abortion. As Tiffany is leaving the clinic, a nurse says, “Abortion five, huh? We should give you a punch card. Get the sixth one free.” Out of anger, Tiffany retrieves a gun from her truck, walks back into the clinic and shoots the nurse. Tiffany’s impulsiveness and anger teaches the valuable life lesson to never let your temper get the best of you.
2. The Importance Of Family
Daya Diaz is the daughter of Aleida Diaz. Both, Daya and Aleida are serving time at Litchfield Federal Penitentiary. Their relationship is clearly strained, they do not get along and they are cruel to one another. Daya develops a relationship with Bennette, a prison guard and becomes pregnant. Aleida shows her softer side and helps her daughter devise a plan to keep the baby, while making sure Bennett is able to keep his job. It’s clear that Aleida and Daya despise each other, but their ability to come together in a time of need, shows the love they have for one another. Although they have a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship, Aleida and Daya teach the life lesson about the importance of family.
1. Take Pride In Your Work
Many of the inmates find a sense of purpose within the walls of the prison. Yoga Jones teaches yoga daily. Janae Watson, a former track star, trains every day. Sister Ingalls helps with religious services in the prison chapel. Sophia Burset works as a hairdresser for the other inmates. Red runs a clean kitchen as head chef. Each of the inmates work hard and are able to find a purpose in their lives, even though it seems insignificant. These women exemplify the life lesson that it’s important to take pride in your work – no matter what it is.