For the past two years, social media has been going insane over Orange is the New Black, the Netflix original series about Piper Chapman, a woman who was sentenced to prison 10 years after running drug money across international borders. According to the Internet, Orange is the New Black is the greatest damn series that has ever graced this blue and green marble: it has numerous people of color, it has numerous genderqueer and genderfluid characters, it features the glorious Laverne Cox, and it has a solid, nuanced cast of mostly women – among other virtues. Everyone should be watching it, and the fact that I’ve ignored it until now despite the fact that I do have Netflix makes me worse than Hitler in many people’s eyes.
So I sat down watched the pilot today with my sister and girlfriend. And it made me sick.
OitNB’s pilot is a gross, awkward, anxiety-inducing sexfest that does nothing to make me want to watch the remaining 39 episodes. It teaches me that prison staff are grotesque, power-mad dictators who don’t see the prisoners as people deserving of compassion and that all the prisoners are out for their own. They spend their time subdividing themselves into groups and punish swiftly and mercilessly any that dare go against them. It shows in almost graphic detail the process of grieving and panicking about being in prison. And it had no less than four sex or sex-precursor scenes.
For the right people, which seems to be the majority of America, all those things seem to be draws, not drawbacks. They want to gorge themselves on human suffering. They want to titillate themselves with sex and physical intimacy. They want to bask in the knowledge that all people – including women – are out only for themselves. It is disgusting.
Because the Internet has so aggressively inundated me with images of Laverne Cox educating her fellow inmates, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren being sweet to Piper, and Poussey Washington generally being an intelligent, bad ass woman, I am willing to watch one more episode. I am willing to feel like a bad person for some kind of entertainment. But that’s it. Unless episode 2 is the episode where people start sticking up for each other and bonding and fighting the system, I’m done, I’m out. The world is a shitty enough place. I don’t need to be watching semi-fictionalized examples of its shittiness in my free time. I’m depressed enough as it is.