I love a good series. I truly enjoy watching the characters develop over time, and if there is some romance, drama, and a few laughs along the way, I am content. Occasionally there is a character that comes along that I just adore, and at the same time can’t quite figure out. In Orange is the New Black, the Netflix series that returns to us with season 2 in June, Piper Chapman is that character.
When we first meet Piper, or “Chapman” as she is known in prison, (and that is prison, not jail) she seems like a silly, scattered, shell shocked young woman with no idea of what she got herself into. At first we have no idea how she landed herself in prison; there was a moment when I wondered when we would ever find out, and then you do and it makes only a little sense. Chapman has a boring, but truly sweet Jewish boyfriend, turned fiancé at the last minute, and an apparently troubled and lesbian past. She has a tense relationship with her own parents, and a tense relationship with her future in-laws. Yet she has friends, and a fairly normal life, but then – BAM – 15 months in prison.
I adore Chapman because she is a strong woman. She is in prison, away from her family and fiancé, her friends and her normal life. When most of us would have been hiding under the bed that she wasn’t allowed to sleep in, curled in the fetal position in need of some wine and a Valium, she bounces back again and again from some fairly traumatic situations.
Not only is Chapman strong, she is smart. Yes, she is well-educated, which is a rarity in the prison that she finds herself in, but she is also quick on her feet. She thinks her way out of many situations that would otherwise be rather perilous for her. Her true talent is that she is smart enough to get herself out of the situations that her inexperience with prison life get her into. She says the wrong thing, but she figures her way out of it. She also uses her knowledge to help other inmates with their appeals, which wins her friends that she would not otherwise have.
More than being strong enough to survive and smart enough to think her way out of sticky situations, Chapman is kind. This is not to say that she is perfect. She makes some fairly stupid decisions, and she hurts some of the people around her, but fundamentally she is kind. She attempts to help her fellow inmates rather than intimidate them or be super tough. She is a complex character, but definitely a good one. Check out the show if you haven’t already. I promise that it’s worth it.
Image Source: NPR.org