Let’s just start with this: Jason Biggs. Many know him as the actor who had his way with an American Pie, but I know him as a 10. I’ve been to the design shop room for the Netflix original series “Orange Is The New Black” (OITNB), starring Jason Biggs, and keen observer that I am, what do I look at? The uniforms of the inmates? Nay. Jason Biggs’ shoe size.
If you’re unfamiliar, the series is based off the memoir of Piper Kerman. And Biggs plays “Larry Bloom,” based off Larry Smith, whom I met ages ago at an author event and interview. I remember leaving the cocktail party with Larry and telling Jen Lancaster that I met the husband of an author whose book was launching soon, with a title nearly matching hers. Bitter wasn’t just the new black, now it was orange, too. “Yeah,” Larry said to me, “It’s about how my wife was sent to prison for a year.” Wait, what now?
From the creator of “Weeds” comes a heartbreaking and hilarious new series set in a women’s prison. Piper Chapman’s wild past comes back to haunt her, resulting in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper trades her comfortable New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit and finds unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates.
Rather than walk you through my day on set, when I saw them filming an episode from Season 2 (to air sometime in 2014) I’ll reveal the highlights:
Photo courtesy of JoJo Whilden for Netflix (Dascha Polanco, Stephanie Klein, Matt McGorry)
FAN THE FIRE
When speaking with Dascha, who plays one of the inmates, her passion spilled out as bliss. All I could think as she spoke was that I used to know that passion, have that giddy excitement, knew exactly what it meant to follow your bliss and how the road will rise up to meet you. Doors will open. The universe will show you that you’re on the right path for the life you should be living. Dascha is on that path now and is just beginning to be recognized on the street, receiving fan-mail that makes her cry. It’s a wonderful reminder to all of us to find or reinvent our bliss, to keep banging on different doors until the right one opens to us… or slides locked behind us.
DRESS FOR THE PART YOU WANT
Despite my fitful love of fashion, I have zero curiosity when it comes to outfitting a cast of inmates (FYI: the difference between hospital and prison scrubs is the weight of the fabric and the finishing. Prison uniforms are industrial, made to withstand). However, when Jenn Rogien (the costume designer for the show, among others like HBO’s Girls) speaks about all that goes into her decisions (beyond watching for the strobing that happens with busy patterns), a new world of questions opens to me. How does she go about finding the clothes for flashback scenes from as recent, but still dated, as the 90s? Answer: she turns to Facebook. Because it’s not about styling models, turning to an archived fashion magazine for ideas, she relies on Throwback Thursday photos to achieve authenticity. As if any of us needs one, there it is: another reason to post even more photos of yourself. Also, her favorite time period for fashion: “Dior after the war.” I want to walk around just slipping that line into random conversations wistfully. “Oh, I know. It’s so Dior after the war.” Other key learnings from the day: “For every look you see, there are four or five alternative choices.” Sounds like my life. And this gem, “Baby wipes are magical.”
DON’T DROP THE SOAP
Without revealing too much of Season 1, since you can binge-watch it anytime on Netflix, I leave you with this:
“Orange is the New Black” has beaten “House of Cards” to win the Favorite Streaming Series at the 40th People’s Choice Awards! So get on it»