Is reality TV really reality?
This question is usually asked when watching shows or movies that are based on true stories or events. The word based refers to something that is not truly real. Many directors and writers choose to change the true story line of an event because they feel that the truth is not always exciting if there isn't enough drama, violence and sex. Without these things, not many people will be interested in watching a movie or show if it stays as the original story and if it is not glamorized by TV producers, writers and directors.
Television shows about prison always seem to interest me because I feel like most are made up. I am referring to the popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black. The series started in 2013, it is directed by Jenji Kohan, who is also known to direct the show Weeds. The show is based on a series of true events that happened to Piper Kerman when she went to prison, but in the show the character is known as Piper Chapman, who is played by actress Taylor Schilling, in prison. Three seasons later since the show aired, it has gained much more popularity and many people cannot wait for the next season to air. The show consists of the prisoners background story and how they ended up in prison, it has violence, drug trafficking, love affairs, make out sessions and lots of girl on girl sex.
But does the show portray the real life inside of a women’s prison? For those of you who watch the show, you may go back and forth with the answer to this question. I feel that the Netflix series does show a few realistic things that occur inside a women’s prison, such as, the drug trafficking, racial tension, violence and sex. Although, the show makes it look like prison is a fun place to be when it shouldn't portray it that way. Prison is suppose to be a scary place that all of us would like to avoid. This is where we realize that TV shows like Orange is the New Black do not portray reality.
“women remain today the fastest-growing sector of the US prison population.” -Angela Y. Davis
As Angela Y. Davis explains in her book Are Prisons Obsolete?, prisons were created as a sort of rehabilitation center to those men and women who break the law. Women prisons are expanding every year and it is becoming more common for women to end up in the system.
In the Orange is the New Black series, they fail to show the rape culture that occurs in the prison system. One of the inmates in the show, Dayanara “Daya” Diaz (played by actress Dascha Polanco), gets pregnant by a police guard, in the show they portray it as a romance. In reality, women get sexually assaulted while they are in the prison system. Many police officers take advantage of their power and sexually assault women with the justification of searching and booking them in to prison. In the show, one of the male guards George “Pornstache” Mendez (played by actor Pablo Schreiber), is a great example on how a man with a uniform abuses their power to manipulate and hurt women in the prison. Not many people choose to shine light on this situation, it is usually kept behind closed doors because people refuse to see and learn the truth about the horrible conditions women encounter when they are in prison.
“Currently, there are over 200,000 women imprisoned in the US. According to Human Rights Watch at least 15 percent of incarcerated females have been the victims of prison sexual assault. These assaults occur at the hands of prison staff and other inmates.” -edited by Josh Guckert
The show does bring many questions among people who are curious to know how women’s prison actually works. Like I stated above, the show is based on true events and it was dramatized for the entertainment of their audience. The show does do a good job shining some light on issues that are occurring in women’s prisons but most of it is not reality.