Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Orange is the New Black: Personal Cage Match - Book vs. TV Series

I am about to do something that has never been attempted before here at Storytelling Rules. I am going to cage match with myself.

Okay. We probably have done that if only by saying we were conflicted by something, but I'm making this one official.

I read Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman's terrific memoir about her stint in federal prison, about two years ago. It was recommended to me by a fellow soccer mom who happens to also be a federal defense attorney. She said it served to remind her about what her clients went through day in and day out. She mentioned it to me after observing that she thought I'd do well in prison when I was crocheting with yarn I'd made out of plastic bags.

I enjoyed the book and then was a little surprised that they were making it into a "dramedy" for Netflix. Kerman has a good sense of humor, but the book wasn't exactly funny. Anyway, I gobbled up the Netflix series. Did I like the book better than the series? Yes. Did I like the series better than the book? Yes.

Hence my need for a cage match. So you can figure out which one of me is speaking (and so I can figure it out, too), I will be either TV Eileen or Book Eileen from henceforth.

TV Eileen: The first few episodes were pretty close to the book, except for one big difference. *SPOILER ALERT (but kind of a minor one)* In the book, Piper's ex-girlfriend who turned her in to the feds did not end up in the same place with her until the very end of the book. In the series, she's there from the very first episode. I was glad. One of the things I didn't like about the book, was Kerman's total disdain for this person with whom she had a long term relationship and for whom she'd done at least one very dangerous and very illegal thing. She loved that woman at some point and in the book didn't seem to want to acknowledge that.

Book Eileen: I understand what you're saying about coming to terms with that relationship, but the point of the book was in many ways about Piper coming to terms with herself. How can she come to terms with herself when she's having to deal with this person who betrayed her? While I think the actress who plays the ex-girlfriend is doing a completely brilliant job (to the point that I kind of want to date her myself), she shouldn't be there.

TV Eileen: Whoa. This show is super sexy!

Book Eileen: Whoa. This show has a lot of sex in it. Kerman didn't shy away from the fact that there was a lot of sex going on in prison, but she wasn't so flipping graphic about it. I feel bad for Natasha Lyonne who seems to spend about half of every episode crouched between some other woman's thighs.

TV Eileen: I love the way that the TV series is showing us the backstories of all these women who are serving time with Piper. It makes their characters so much richer. In the book, you got a sense of their history, but I like knowing more. Their actions are so much better motivated.

Book Eileen: I like knowing more, except that in the process the series is devolving into another one of those prison dramas where *SPOILER ALERT AND THIS TIME A BIG ONE* the main character has to become as brutal as the worst prisoner/guard/warden to survive. In the book, these women formed a family. Yes. There were factions and infighting, but mainly they supported each other and helped each other. I don't recall Kerman ever thinking she was going to be stabbed in the book. Her big disappointment was that *ANOTHER BIG SPOILER ALERT* since she was transferred right before being released, she wasn't going to get a party with a cake and a chance to say good-bye to everyone.

TV Eileen: Her fiance is annoying.

Book Eileen: Totally. He was much less annoying in the book.

So is anybody else watching this? Have they read it? Both? Which Eileen will you support?

P.S. Thank you to everyone who downloaded Petals on the Pillow. It ended up making it into the top 10 of Free Kindle downloads which was kind of a thrill. I hope you enjoyed it!


Stephanie Doyle said...

I love Eileen's self cage match. I saw her recently interviewed and it was interesting. There is this sense that she wasn't supposed to be in that place, but at the same time, she committed a pretty big crime.

But I had this experience with Game of Thrones. I started to read the first book, after I had watched the first season. Some things I took away from the book, some things I liked about the show better.

Ultimately I picked the show. So I stopped reading the book so I wouldn't be spoiled going forward.

Eileen said...

I chose the Game of Thrones show over the books after having read the first two books just because reading those books is such a time commitment! I think it took me an entire month to read the second one.

Right now, I have at least two books per month to read for school plus a book club book. It doesn't leave a lot of time for other books and Martin's are HUGE.

Back to Orange, though, you had more of a sense of "I don't belong here" at the beginning of the book. THen as time passed, she sort of made her place there. The character in the series is also making her place there, but in a totally different way in those last few episodes.

Anonymous said...

So much TV to watch. It sounds like a really interesting show and Eileen, one person cage matches are a great invention.
I think I might watch the show! is that the right answer to this cage match. Should I choose the show over the book?

Eileen said...

I think you have to do both. It's the only way to resolve the issue. The woman who recommended the book to me hasn't seen the series. My friends who have watched the series haven't read the book. I'm dying. I need to process.

Maureen McGowan said...

Awesome cage match! I haven't read the book or watched the show yet, but am interested in doing both now. :)

Eileen said...

Are you imagining two Eileens, each dressed in a singlet maybe with helmets and mouth guards, kicking and punching their ways around a giant mat?

That was my original intent. Not sure I quite achieved the effect.

Hilda said...

This is gorgeous!

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