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Somethin’ about Orange is the New Black

Behind dem 'ol' bars again./Haley Klassen
Behind dem ‘ol’ bars again./Haley Klassen

Apparently, people like racy, prison dramas

Article: Jessie Anton

As many of you may already know, Jenji Kohan’s Netflix comedy-drama series, Orange is the New Black (OITNB), was back again for a second season this past summer.

Since the hit Netflix series debuted in the summer of 2013, it has been one of the most talked about shows all over social media, being the theme of most Facebook statuses, tweets, and Tumblr GIFs: a television trend nearly impossible to escape.

After binge-watching both seasons myself, they got me thinking: why is this show so darn popular? What draws people in? What exactly makes people choose this comedy-drama over their beauty sleep?

Then, I took my questions to social media and asked these sleepless, Netflix-loving individuals why they cannot keep their eyes off their TVs.

It is no secret that this series has an incredible storyline; however, it is the realistic depictions of characters and the prison environment that makes everyone love it. If you watch the show, then you know how easy it is to get attached to each character and how each of their stories can relate to so many everyday lives.

“The characters are what make the show so popular,” says film major Stephanie Proulx. “There are so many of them with unique backgrounds and stories that draw [viewers] in. The character development is phenomenal.”

The characters are life-like and relevant. But, it is also the predominantly female cast in a male-dominated world of media that makes OITNB so uniquely uplifting.

OITNB stands out as a series in which women aren’t just love interests, sisters, wives or mothers of men,” Hannah Sackville points out. “[The female characters] get to be the heroes, the villains, and the victims.”

Another reason why so many watch the show is because the plot revolves around varying sexualities.

As Sackville adds, “Most series these days usually either tiptoe around LGBTQ topics or push the subject until sexual orientation is the only thing you remember about a character. OITNB finds balance in its honest portrayal of characters who are neither tokens for representation nor defined by who they love.”

It is Kohan’s boundless and creative writing skills that strip each character down to their bitter core in representing women of all walks of life, coming together in an abnormally relatable prison setting.

According to film connoisseur Spencer Burridge, he watches the OITNB phenomenon because the show “holds no punches back, and gives [viewers] a gritty look at the prison system.”

With that being said, these punches and limitless plots can sometimes leave their audiences with a little bit more than they bargained for.

“I think the sex scenes are too much,” explains Sandra Hunchak.

Nevertheless, a little vulgarity does not hold her back as Hunchak claims, “OITNB has the best season finales of any shows [I have] watched as of late—[I] can’t wait for the next season!”

Lucky for all you OITNB lovers, the hit series has been renewed for a third season. So, in the meantime (if you’re not already re-watching the entire series with your cat), plan a five-course meal for yourself during the thirty-minute long theme song that you will be hearing again next June.

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