For this week’s assignment, I chose to binge watch Orange Is the New Black, a new Netflix original series that portrays the life and struggles of women in prison. Having grown up without cable television, I was never introduced to such ongoing dramas. As a child I watched Disney Channel and Nickelodeon when visiting my grandparents, and over the past few years I have grown obsessed with Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Full House and Glee, all of which I own on DVD. In short, my preference of television has involved lighthearted and witty comedy.
None of the shows on the provided list stood out as something I would choose to watch on my own. However, my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with praise for the new racy Netflix series, several of my friends were hooked, and my favorite color is orange, so these three factors made my decision for me. Little did I know I would end up just as hooked as everyone else.
Orange is the New Black delivers its audience the hard truth. Much of the content is so explicit that it’s incredibly uncomfortable to watch, yet at the same time, I can appreciate that. The creators have developed a show that isn’t afraid to introduce the public to the extreme racism, gender issues, crime, drug abuse, and general mistreatment of solitary confinement.
The behavior of these imprisoned women can be terrible and even terrifying at points, but audiences still manage to love them. I think this is one of the greatest successes of the show; the creators were able to speak the truth but still manage to guarantee that prison women are still human. They still can love. They still need love.
Another great aspect of the show is the “flashback”. This creates an even deeper plot with so much to explore. Because the setting and theme is so absolute – prison life– the incorporation of an abundance of characters isn’t so overwhelming. Everything connects back to the central plotline. The audience is woven in and out of so many stories, but there is always that strong foundation that keeps the series on track.
I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan, and Orange is the New Black is very much like one of her novels. Perhaps this is why I was hooked so quickly. I enjoy literary works that describe the daily lives of people who aren’t like us, or explain situations that we’re not fully aware of. Like Jodi Picoult, the creators seem to have done their research. The show is both entertainment and a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the characters’ lives in future episodes.