I've seen Orange is the New Black four times all the way through already. Before you suggest an OCD medication like Zoloft, let me explain. My friends had seemed "iffy" on whether or not they were going to watch it, so as their self-designated TV coach, it was my duty to sit them down (using force when necessary) and lock the door and close the blinds and...no, we just watched TV, I swear. I'm not creepy. It's cool. Anyway, by the third episode "Lesbian Request Denied," they were hooked. We'd do the "one more episode" game until finally it was three in the morning and, you get the point. I pretty much have the show memorized.
I won't pretend I'm not a seasoned TV watcher, repeat TV binger, or even an "I'll watch almost anything" kind of gal. Many an ex-boyfriend would come out of the woodwork to object if I pretended I weren't. But I can't get "Orange is the New Black" out of my head and that's because it's a very important show. Not only does it have complicated, well-written, "real" roles for women (an unfortunate rarity), it is one of the few shows that really focuses on them in a world of their own. Because it is set in a prison environment, we get to enjoy their interpersonal relationships without, to put it harshly, all those pesky men getting in the way. It's sad that this is such a revelation, but it really was for me. These women talk to each other about things other than men all the time and I love it! In "Orange is the New Black," their male relationships (with the exception of Piper's early interactions with her boyfriend and the interactions with the prison personnel) are only revealed in flashback and therefore we only see what's truly important to them. I was more surprised than anyone that I enjoyed watching a show about women in prison. It had the potential to fall into some pretty hairy traps, but I can't tell you how skillfully they executed this. And because it is done so well, it's ingeniously refreshing to see something that gives tremendously talented female actors, of a variety of races, this kind of material to work with. These women are treated as people, not girlfriends or wives or sisters, with their own stories, and each one of them have done things in their pasts that they regret deeply that have landed them in jail in the first place, which donates automatic complexity to each character.
I could write a dissertation on the show, but I won't. I could go on and on about the other ways in which it's groundbreaking: its inclusion of lesbian and transgender characters, the fact that its writers room has more women than men (which might be my personal favorite), or even my favorite two new words UZO ADUBA. But the fact is that all of this is overshadowed by one very important thing: Orange is the New Black stands on its own as a great show. It's funny when it wants to be, downright touching when it doesn't and it knows exactly what it is tonally, which is no small feat. I don't just love it because it's bringing something new to television (which it is), or because it excites me as a female writer (which it does) or because my Netflix stock is looking pretty damn good (thanks guys). I love it because it's extremely entertaining and that's what television should be. I intend to keep making my friends (and thus myself) watch it over and over until Season 2 comes out, which I can not wait for. And when that day comes I will stay awake for thirteen hours straight.