In the summer of 2013, Netflix released a new original series, Orange Is the New Black, which immediately starting gaining popularity among viewers--both men and women. When I first heard about this show, nothing about it really appealed to me......until I decided to try out one episode. After that, I understood why everyone and their mothers were telling me to watch it. It was one of the most well-written shows I had ever seen and I unashamedly binge-watched the other two seasons when they came out. I understood why everyone loved it, but I thought it would be good to really understand why this show is as amazing and pivotal as it is in our society.
For those of you who don't know anything about the show, it's about a woman named Piper Chapman who is sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. The rest of the show also follows the rest of the characters and explores their stories and their relationships with the other inmates.
First of all, the "protagonist" (and I use this term loosely) is a female and the rest of the cast is almost entirely female with a very small number of recurring male roles. Time magazine released an article called "What Men Can Learn From Orange Is the New Black." (Here is the link to it if you want to read it). I thought it was an interesting read and I definitely agreed with most of what they said. My favorite thing mentioned in the article was, "this isn't a show about women for women: it's a show about people." Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) was considered different because it focused on women, but I think that people feel this way because most things we watch feature a male protagonist/ensemble that has caused us to think that that is what is considered normal. This show has definitely opened eyes for both men and women who haven't been exposed to many issues like feminism in their media.
What I really like about this show is how honest they are about these experiences in prison and how they don't exploit sexuality and other issues for the sake of making their show "edgier." The show explores a huge spectrum of sexuality and the fluidity of sexual orientation. It also doesn't bring women down, it shows that these women are in prison for crimes that not just men commit. The Time magazine article says that the only difference about a female prison is the smuggling of cigarettes in tampons, because we know the guards would never check those. The show does have it's female touches, but it's unavoidable when the cast is primarily made of females.
OITNB does a great job of handling this ensemble of female characters and has basically become its own wave of feminism without causing any sort of social justice movement/riot. highly recommend watching it if you haven't seen it yet! And sorry for the kind-of-cheesy title. I'm a watcher, not a writer.