TV Review: Netflix's 'Orange Is the New Black'

Netflix drops all 13 episodes of Orange Is the New Black, a new prison dramedy from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, on Thursday, July 11. The following are reviews from TV critics around the Web, compiled by B&C.

“[W]hat you get from Jenji Kohan’s (Weeds) unexpectedly affecting new 13-episode series is a true rarity: a deft mix of comedy and drama in which the prison feels like a real place and the women are actual people, rather than a thinly veiled excuse to stage catfights, lesbian fantasies and sexual assault.”

-Robert Bianco, USA Today (opens in new tab)

Orange may be a roughly hourlong show, but it has the soul of a sitcom or a teen drama - it’s more Gossip Girl than Oz - and situations tend to resolve themselves through slightly over-the-top humor and an increasingly prevalent sentimentality.”

-Mike Hale, New York Times

Orange is not a Great Television Show. Not yet, at least. It may be the best thing on quote-unquote TV right now, but that’s only because Game of Thrones just ended and Breaking Bad doesn’t return until August.”

-Andrew Romano, Daily Beast

“It fits in well with the trend I’ve been calling ‘B-Movie TV’: Like a host of other recent shows found online or on smaller networks, Orange is a scrappy, entertaining, low-budget program that doesn’t try to be a Serious Drama, but instead uses the cover of a well-known genre to explore bracing and challenging places.”

-Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post

Orange Is the New Black is not just about a slightly deluded Everywoman renegotiating her understanding of the universe, it’s about the fact that Piper is most decidedly not Everywoman, a revelation that may take television executives by surprise.”

-Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

“[T]he show becomes more engrossing as is spins out from [Piper’s] story, fleshing out the inmates, their backstories, and their alliances. You may come for the culture-clash cringe-comedy; it’s the real human stories that will have you captivated.”

-James Poniewozik, TIME

“Although messy and at times uneven, the one-hour series feels like a bull’s-eye with the sort of premium-cable space the distributor is eager to carve out with its original efforts… [T]here are moments where it feels like someone from Grey’s Anatomy got thrown into an old prison exploitation movie.The most appealing elements, rather, come from the wealth of supporting players, including a breakout turn by Yael Stone as a wonderfully distinctive character who seems to have parachuted in from a 1930s gangster film.”

-Brian Lowry,Variety

“The performances by the likes of Mr. Biggs, Ms. Mulgrew and, especially, Ms. Schilling are so convincing, and the dialogue so sharp, that none of this feels like prurience for its own sake. ”

-Sohrab Ahmari, Wall Street Journal