It’s February 2007. Carrie Underwood just won a Grammy as a New Artist, Peyton Manning just won his first Superbowl, and Netflix has just sent off their billionth DVD in company history.
And instead of shooting for two-billion DVDs, they pivot their company strategy, and create a streaming project that is completed before the end of the year. The following years, DVD sales trend lower and lower but while competitors go bankrupt Netflix continues to operate their online service.
Fast-forward to 2013: Netflix launches three original drama shows and two of them, House of Cards and Hemlock Grove, are the traditional Hollywood productions with the usual suspects of a cast and crew.
However the third show began to build a platform that Netflix now proudly pushes to the forefront of their presentation. It was a show created by a woman with a diverse multi-ethnic cast and crew –prominently featuring a trans character. At the time, it seemed like a lot, but today Netflix is the home for representation in entertainment, and it is all thanks to Orange is the New Black.
In 2013, I had just gotten in to University, was living on my own for the first time, and didn’t have time for that “girls’ show” friends were telling me about on Netflix.
Eventually I would go on to relent and realized it was much more than a “girls show”. It’s a human show about life’s challenges and wanting to be better than you are. Jenji Kohan used a blonde caucasian main character as her “Trojan Horse” to bring the stories of Litchfield Correctional Institution in to the living rooms of millions around the world and Netflix thanked her for it in a big way.
Seven seasons of OITNB are an absolute flex on the rest of Netflix’s originals who have often have trouble breaking past a second season. Long past the expiration of Hemlock Grove and House of Cards, OITNB has been Netflix’s summertime constant.
The women of Orange is the New Black are not the typical “inmates” in most prison movies. They’re shown to be angry, sad, or addicted, but they’re also shown to be kind and desperate to just make it through the day. Orange Is The New Black has proved that some of the best moments in TV can come from things other than dragons, even if its a crackhead with no teeth.
OITNB has not only taken plot from the source novel of Piper Kerman, but it has worked in current events and societal issues in a way that is both genuinely touching and horrifying. This final season has had a harsh look in to the realities of ICE and U.S. immigration, giving a serious sense of dread knowing its happening in cities all across America.