Orange Is the New Black: Television as an Agent of Socialization
Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is a popular Netflix series that is structured in order to altogether convey themes of sexuality, race, gender, and class. This favored Netflix series is established on the view of today’s society. These particular themes reveal a variety of societal norms and insights. Additionally, there are several disturbing truths shown within this series. For example, the show illustrates that more African Americans are sentenced to prison than Caucasian’s in a year. This show also reveals just how many women locked up regardless of how many people do not naturally envision their imprisonment. Despite the series being imaginary and fictional, it does a fantastic job of displaying the phenomenon of the lives in prison.
Typically, an all women’s correction facility is not the first thing that one would think about when prison is brought up. This is more than likely due to what society portrays as the norm. This shows one of the ways the series displays these social realities, by exposing every form of the prison life, specifically for prisoners who are women. Orange is the New Black goes astray from what society often pictures, and shows the dynamics within Litchfield Penitentiary. In this series, the women roles outweigh the men, since it takes place in a women’s prison. The storyline is focused loosely on the life of Piper Chapman’s time spent in the Litchfield Prison. Piper is characterized as an upper classmen and the show follows Piper as she becomes equipped to her new life in prison and allows the viewers to witness her endless interactions with fellow inmates. This show clearly depicts that it holds the perspective of a Caucasian. For instance, the viewer may notice the difference between how the African American inmates talk as opposed to how the Caucasian inmates talk. The show also displays a prime example of what a stereotypical African American would look like. As an example, one of the scenes takes places in a barbershop where the inmates are all African American with wacky hairstyles. Having the series in this perspective makes sense due to the fact Piper Chapman is the main character, and the show is presented from her point of view and shown through her own course as she is learning to cope with being in prison.
Regardless of Orange is the New Black being just a Netflix series, it very well illustrates the reality that society faces in their daily lives. This series makes it clear that more African Americans may be incarcerated, than the Caucasians. The producer of this popular series obviously held the interpretation that more non-white people become imprisoned rather than white people, because if not, the producer would have balanced out the races more evenly. For instance, including more Caucasian inmates within the show. The ethnicity that the series displays among the inmates is shown clearly, as well as gender is put on the center stage too. The truth that both genders experience imprisonment is thrown under the spotlight. The concept that a large amount of women in prison are African American was sufficiently rendered in this series. Characters who were well represented in the African American race were women like, Poussey, Washington, Suzanne, Taystee, and Eliqua Maxwell. All in which are more than likely incarcerated with education no further than high school.
Another element to consider within this show is the fact that these women often break the given rules of the facilities. For example, one of the Caucasian inmates, who goes by the name of Red, illicitly found a way to have disapproved items dealt into the Litchfield facilities. To which fellow inmates will then purchase off of her. And sure enough, Red is not alone. Another inmate named Vee has also found a way to illegally smuggle unauthorized items into the facility. Towards the end of the series, the African American inmates began to develop and deliver hidden drugs from the storage facility.
This show also does well establishing a chain of command. A hierarchy is developed in the Litchfield prison. A character who well exemplifies this is Vee. Vee represents a chain of command when she looks after her fellow African American inmates once they have earned her respect. Some of the benefits of being under Vee were well illustrated. One of the benefits illustrated was that if an inmate was looked after by Vee, they would gain protection and treatment that other inmates may not acquire. The only way to achieve these things was to prove to Vee they were worthy of her respect by doing something deserving enough for her. When Piper Chapman first arrived to Litchfield, she wanted absolutely nothing to do with anyone or anything. However as time passes on, Piper comes to the realization that she will have to gain the respect of her fellow inmates in order to stay out of trouble and get help with things. New inmates like Piper; have to learn a way to prove to their peers that they are worthy enough to be included in what they call a family. Primarily with the African American inmates is this concept of family illustrated.
Despite the fact that Orange is the New Black is just a television show, it very well displays a prime example of what happens in society today. The women in this prison represent race differences, class differences, sexuality differences, and more. The view of this Netflix series may become more aware of these differences through watching it. Orange is the New Black is a carbon copy of what real life in the prison society looks like, but taking it out of the prison setting, this show still very well depicts what the norms of culture and society are.
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