Addicted to Orange
How OITNB changed the game for queer representation
It’s 3am, 12 July 2013 and I am tits deep in lesbian drama. There’s the Bettie Page lookalike and the tall blonde who make out at every opportunity; the old-school dyke with “BUTCH” tattooed on her forearm; the best friends who crack everybody up then give each other head in the shower; and isn’t that classic lezzy pin-up Captain Janeway from Star Trek? Everywhere I look, women are falling for each other, wifing up, and having endless aquatic-based sex. No, I’m not at Dinah Shore. I’m halfway through the first season of Jenji Kohan’s revolutionary tour de force, Orange Is The New Black, and I’m as hopelessly hooked as those meth heads with missing teeth. I gorge all 13 eps over two late night marathons, then withdrawal sets in fast so I re-watch the lot. I want to press “Next Episode” ad infinitum.
I’ve never seen anything like this. In a televisual landscape that promotes one type of femininity above all else (white, cis, straight, skinny), Orange puts marginalised women in the spotlight. Those who would normally be extras are the show’s core cast. The diversity is breathtaking: lesbians, bisexual women, trans women, women of colour, older women.
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