Orange You Glad: How I Almost Overlooked the Perfection of Orange is the New Black

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Here’s some advice: watch Orange is the New Black. Wait a few weeks. Then read this article. Or, if you prefer a short cut, just read this:

Even on the frustrating days, when a script was due and I was convinced I was a talentless hack, I consoled myself by trusting that it felt important to be telling stories about women who are largely ignored in the mainstream media. In my more assured moments, I knew that we were attempting to give a voice to the miles that fall in between black and white, gay and straight, good and bad. That is: giving a voice to most humans.

-Lauren Morelli, Orange is the New Black staff writer

I never really took the time to deeply consider Orange is the New Black, in the same way no one really takes the time to consider the entire can of Funfetti frosting before swallowing it whole along with the spoon. I was so inexplicably absorbed with the show that, for 13 episodes and 2 days, I forgot I was a feminist, I forgot I was an ally, I forgot I was a screenwriter. I was just a fan.

I think that’s something of note: that a fierce feminist and ersatz media scholar such as myself forgot to notice that the show bucked all the good stuff:  gender scripts, racial lines, heteronormativity, body shame, beauty standards, etc. That the show passed the Bechdel Test with flying colors (of orange).

All I could think was, “!!RIGSJNHJGNH11!!!! WHY IS THIS SHOW SOOOO GOOD?!! ACCENT ADROIT, BITCH!!!!!” If I hadn’t stumbled across the above-mentioned article, I’d still be adding !!! to that train of thought.

The fact that I forgot to overthink this show is entirely a testament to the storytelling. The writers did not create this show as a soapbox, nor these characters as poster children. Shows suck when they try too hard to make statements…see The New Normal, see The Newsroom, see the second season of Girls. Orange is the New Black does decidedly not suck. Instead of trying to make a point about race, or sexuality, or the state of the American penal system, it sets out to do nothing else but tell a human story.

That isn’t to say that Orange is the New Black doesn’t speak to larger themes. Because human stories, by their very nature, speak to race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomics, and all those words that make people want to roll their eyes when dropped in a blog post. But the show doesn’t spoon-feed its audience any particular morals or messages. It just sits them down to tell a story.

That being said, now that I’ve read this article, I would like to attach a few more !!! to my review for some other reasons:

  • !!! for strong, complex female characters
  • !!! for a female-dominated writing staff
  • !!! for the relationship between Poussey and Taystee, between Ms. Claudette and Piper, between EVERYONE AND EVERYONE
  • !!! for Nikki’s hair
  • !!! for Dascha Polanco who is hot as all hell
  • !!! for Sophia Burset, and Laverne Cox as Sophia Bursey
  • !!! for the fact I can’t decide whether I want Piper with Larry or Alex
  • !!! for !!! for !!! for !!!

But really…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(hey, those sort of looks like jail bars)

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