What To Watch: Netflix Originals

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of my “what to watch” series! How are we all holding up? Staying safe? Staying sane? Are we all going crazy while practicing social distancing, or are we enjoying the solitude? Have you ran out of things to watch and binge yet?!

netflixAssuming that most humans in the world have access to a Netflix account, your options are close to unlimited! There’s so many shows and movies to explore on Netflix, and they have really upped their game in terms of their original series! The amount of content can seem overwhelming, so here are my top 10 Netflix original shows that you should check out:

5 Netflix Original Reality Shows:

queer eyeQueer Eye
You may have been living under a rock if you haven’t at least heard of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reboot with the new Fab Five. Now is the time for some feel-good content, so head to watch/rewatch this revolutionary show! You will laugh, you will cry, and you will (attempt to) forget about the current insanity.

next in fashionNext In Fashion
Featuring Tan France from Queer Eye as a host, this reality competition focuses on fashion and design! A group of incredibly talented fashion designers are tasked with creating new looks and fresh concepts each week, with one winner in the end. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, and who doesn’t need more Tan in their life?!

the circleThe Circle
I want to be on this show so bad!! This is a reality competition similar to Big Brother, where contestants vote for who is in power and who goes home each week. The twist? They are all in separate rooms and can only communicate virtually. Some individuals chose to play as themselves, while others use false pictures and choose to play as a catfish. Someone PLEASE cast me for next season!

love is blindLove Is Blind 
This show is everywhere in the media right now, so there’s a good chance you’ve been bombarded with people telling you to watch this. I’m telling you, it’s worth it. The show has Bachelor vibes, but with the twist of dating through “pods”, where the men and women are to make connections and engagements without ever meeting face to face. They then go through a wild ride to their wedding day, where they have the option of saying “I do” or “I don’t”. Did I mention it was a wild ride? It’s a wild ride.

exBack With The Ex
Once you’re done with Love Is Blind, you may be feeling a void. It’s definitely not as good, but Back With The Ex can certainly fill that void for you. (Note: Netflix says this is an original series, Google disagrees, but I’m keeping it on this list anyway.) The title is self-explanatory: ex couples attempt to sort things out; some have not seen each other in 3, 6, or 28 years!! You may believe in love again.. or you may realize that ex’s should stay ex’s for a reason. Either way, please don’t call your ex to be your quarantine bae.

5 Netflix Original Scripted Shows:

oitnbOrange is the New Black
This isn’t a new show or anything, but it’s one of the absolute best ones out there. OITNB is loosely based on the story of Piper Kerman, who was sent to one year in a women’s prison for a 10 year old drug crime. The show then takes off to involve the stories of many other inmates that you will no doubt learn to love. The show gets real, brings up a lot of important conversations, and also will speak right to your heart. Seriously one of the most amazing shows that was ever made.

black mirrorBlack Mirror
OMG this is a CRAZY SHOW! Just like American Horror Story‘s seasons, each episode of Black Mirror is standalone, so you can watch the episodes in any order. Each episode explores an extreme scenario of technology in society. For example, what would happen if everyone’s credit score was based on social media likes? What if you could rewind your memories at will for all to see? What if Amazon’s Alexa was actually a clone of yourself? Safe to say, your mind will be blown more than once.

hill houseHaunting of Hill House
This is legit one of my favorite shows ever! I’m no expert in the genre of horror, but I love a show that can freak me out and stand my hair on end. This family of house flippers find themselves in quite a predicament when their haunted mansion starts to unleash its powers all around them. I’ve watched this more than once and probably will watch more times in the future. 

youYou
There is nothing like this show; the format is so unique and the plot twists are awesome. Penn Badgley does an amazing job of being creepy, alluring, frustrating, and interesting. Is this a love story? Is this a horror/thriller narrative? Take the ride to find out! Also, the actress who plays “Nellie” on Hill House can be seen as new love interest “Love” on season 2. Shit is about to get crazy!

grace and frankieGrace and Frankie
Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are timeless treasures that I am obsessed with. In this hilarious series, their husbands leave the women to be gay together, and the two very different gal pals are forced into an unlikely but beautiful friendship. My whole family watches this show, including my Grams who recently was introduced to binge-watching. Also, June Diane Raphael is my spirit animal in this show. (I tweeted that once and June liked the tweet!!)

NMore Netflix content coming tomorrow! Stay safe and stay sane.

Thanks for reading.

Out Of Orange by Cleary Wolters

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If you watched the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, then you are familiar with Alex Vause. If you’ve read Piper Kerman’s book with the same title, then you are familiar with Nora Jansen. The real woman is named Cleary Wolters. After finishing the final season of the series, as well as the real Piper’s book, I decided to round out my obsession by reading Out Of Orange – the memoir of the “real woman behind the glasses.”

Hearing about when she first saw the Netflix commercial – damn. I felt my own heart sink along with her reaction of first hearing the now iconic clicking of the gate. Cleary had no idea that this production was happening. She was still on parole for her crime, unable to legally communicate with Piper, and didn’t know how this would affect her status.

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She then goes back to the beginning of her story and her crimes to show us the full sequence of events. The Netflix show completely leaves out Cleary’s sister, who is an integral part of the story. She is dating the boss, or “God”, as some called him – the one running the drug smuggling operations. That’s how Cleary/Nora/Alex got involved in the first place. The book focuses more on the crime and the details of the drug ring than anything else. The story is long and elaborate, and while I did find a lot of it interesting, I found that it could definitely have been more concise. Regardless, I’m glad that Cleary got a chance to tell her side of the story and set her own narrative.

In the 7th and final season of OITNB, one of the COs shoves a condom full of heroin down Alex’s throat to hide it. Funnily enough, that’s how many of Cleary’s co-workers transported drugs. She details her first trip, where her colleague puts the heroin into the pinky of a rubber glove, ties it and cuts it off, dips it into some yogurt, and swallows it whole. He does this over and over again until he’s consumed it all, each capsule containing enough heroin to kill him immediately if accidentally released inside him before he has a chance to go through digestion. Cleary, however, has the heroin she is moving sewn into a man’s suit. They later adapt to a method where it is sewn directly into the lining of the suitcases. (This was the 90’s, so prior to drug sniffing dogs.)

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Piper is a not as big of a character in most the book as one may think, starting out just as the role of “cat godmother and babysitter” for a while in a platonic way. It did, of course, evolve into something more, but she is still a secondary, maybe even tertiary, character in the drug operations. I think it proves how someone small in your life can have such a big influence. Piper can blame Cleary for getting her mixed into the business that led to her year in prison, but it brought her wild success. And in return, Piper also put Cleary on the map; I would not have read her book or even known her name had it not been for Piper Kerman and Netflix.

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Overall, I’m not sure that Cleary Wolters is one of my favorite authors. The further I got into the book, the more I disliked the way Cleary writes. It’s scattered and sometimes repetitive in a strange way. For example, she’ll describe swallowing a vicodin down with a scoop of her miso soup, followed by the fact that she ordered sushi and miso soup. I almost wondered if she wrote a draft, and then an editor told her to go back and add more detail, and she just did that in random areas. Not to mention, I feel as though the cover and title did not accurately reflect the contents of the book. It’s not until page 234 that she finally sees prison time, and the book is somewhere around 300 or so pages. The story is almost the prologue to Pipers, and I just think that could have been portrayed more. Not to judge a book by its cover or anything. And like I said before, I very much enjoyed hearing her side of the story.

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Honestly, maybe if I was more of a cat person, I would have enjoyed this book a little bit more.

Thanks for reading.

Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman

orange ishte newYou probably know the Netflix show Orange is the New Black, and you may or may not know that the plot is based on a true story. I wanted the details, which is what led me to Piper Kerman’s memoir, detailing her year in a women’s prison. 

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The first season is the truest to the book, of course with its differences as well, but the nature of how, when, and why Piper went to prison are all true. The beginning of the book tells the story of her crime, when she was in her twenties, and is almost identical to the scene in the show. The blonde wig disguise, the skipping of customs, and the love affair was all true. Even certain lines were the same, such as Piper’s grandmother asking what she did with all the money – to which Piper replied, “Well Grandma, I wasn’t really in it for the money…”

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Much of her arrival to prison paralleled her real experience as well, such as getting the gift of a toothbrush from other white women and having her bed made for her so that they’d pass inspection. A lot of characters also parallel the show. The driver with a New York accent and bright red lipstick is certainly comparable to Lorna Morello, there’s a track star just like Janae, and Spanish mami’s that reminded me of Gloria and Maria. All names were changed for the show of course, and not all crimes in the show match up with those who committed them in real life.

alex cThe biggest difference between the book and the TV show, is that the real Alex Vause was not in the same prison as Piper. In the book, Piper calls the Alex character by the name of Nora Janson, but the real woman is named Cleary Wolters. The two of them did not end up together, and Piper is actually still happily married to Larry. Piper and Alex did cross paths when they ran into each other while being held in Chicago, where they were both called to testify against another man involved in their crime ring. There was a lot of tension during that time, and no romantic interactions. There was, however, a woman there who relentlessly tried to obtain Piper’s birth time and place for her chart.

piper and larryChicago also played a major factor of what was different in the book versus the TV show, as Piper’s release date actually came in real life while she was being held in Chicago for the trial. She was released from there, and had to fly home with Larry to New York. The final season of OTINB will show Piper’s release from prison, and I hope that they throw Piper Chapman the going-away party that Piper Kerman was robbed of.

piper

If you are an avid fan of the show, the book is a great read. There’s many quick tidbits or opinions that became major story lines in the show, which is really fascinating to see how they used the book as a resource. It’s like they have their regular story line, and they frequently go back to the book whenever they needed inspiration.

Here are some more similarities and differences that I found interesting or noteworthy:

  • Piper’s grandmother really did get sick and pass away while Piper was in prison. Piper did apply for furlough, but it was, of course, never granted.
  • There really was a girl nicknamed Pennsatucky, and she really did get new teeth! However, she had no extreme religious story line, and she and Piper were actually good friends throughout their stay.
  • Danbury becomes Litchfield. Yoga Janet becomes Yoga Jones. And Pop – who runs the kitchen, has a very long sentence, and often gets special treatment – becomes Red.
  • Martha Stewart was sentenced to prison during this time, who would be comparable to the Judy character in the show. However, she did not serve time in the same camp as Piper. Though Danbury was the location requested by Martha so that she could be close to her grandmother, the camp was conveniently and temporarily closed at that time to ensure that Martha would not be taking one of the beds there, which could lead them to media scrutiny.
  • Larry really did write a segment for a newspaper’s ‘modern love’ column. However, it had little to do with Piper’s time in prison. It was actually pretty short and very sweet, and about how much he loved Piper. Piper and Larry’s relationship is still a success to this day, and they reside together in Brooklyn.

piper kPiper was also very reflective as she got to the end of the book, and was able to understand the bigger picture of her crimes. When she was a young girl moving this suitcase of money, she was not thinking of how drugs affect the rest of the country. She reflected on women who were put in terrible situations, and were involved in drug crimes simply because they had no other options. Piper also acknowledged her privilege and how she was given opportunities after leaving prison that other women would not be so lucky to have. She talked about how the U.S. correctional system does not do much “correcting”, and does not set up prisoners to have successful lives when they are released. Piper has gotten involved in prison reform and women’s rights since her release, and I hope that her efforts can better the lives of future women who are incarcerated.

If you are interested in Piper’s cause, you can visit www.piperkerman.com/justice-reform or facebook.com/orangeisthenewblack.

The seventh and final season of Orange Is The New Black will be released on Netflix on Friday, June 26th, 2019.

Thanks for reading!

Summer TV 2019

summertv2SUMMER TV IS HEREEEE!!! Now that it’s officially June, there are so many new shows starting up. ESPECIALLY GAME SHOW REVIVALS!!! I am so excited. My friend has recommended the app TV Time to me, where you can track your favorite shows and get notifications when new episodes are being released. Here’s what I’ll be adding to my watch list for summer:

Monday, June 3rd: 
So You Think You Can Dance – FOX

Wednesday, June 5th:
Grown-ish – FreeForm

Sunday, June 9th: 
Celebrity Family Feud – ABC
$100,000 Pyramid – ABC
To Tell The Truth – ABC

Wednesday, June 12th:
Press Your Luck – ABC
Card Sharks – ABC
Match Game – ABC

Sunday, June 16th:
Euphoria – HBO

Monday, June 17th:
Whose Line Is It Anyway? – The CW

Thursday, June 20th:
Family Food Fight – ABC
Spin The Wheel – ABC

Tuesday, June 25th:
Big Brother – CBS

Thursday, July 25th:
Orange Is The New Black – Netflix

Monday, July 20th:
Bachelor In Paradise – ABCtv1

Thanks for reading!