Feminist Perspectives on Orange Is the New Black

Thirteen Critical Essays

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About the Book

Since its 2013 premiere, Orange Is the New Black has become Netflix’s most watched series, garnering critical praise and numerous awards and advancing the cultural phenomenon of binge-watching. Academic conferences now routinely feature panels discussing the show, and the book on which it is based is popular course material at many universities. Yet little work has been published on OINTB.
The series has sparked debate: does it celebrate diversity or is it told from the perspective of white privilege, with characters embodying some of the most racist and sexist stereotypes in television history? This collection of new essays is the first to analyze the show’s multiple layers of meaning. Examining Orange Is the New Black from a number of feminist perspectives, the contributors cover topics such as gender, race, class, sexuality, transgenderism, mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex, disability, and sexual assault.

About the Author(s)

April Kalogeropoulos Householder is a media scholar and adjunct faculty member in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and the author of several articles on intersectional feminist history and theory.
Adrienne Trier-Bieniek is the chair of sociology and anthropology at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. She is the editor of numerous books on popular culture.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by April Kalogeropoulos Householder and Adrienne Trier-Bieniek
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6392-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2519-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Is Orange the New Black? (April Kalogeropoulos Householder and Adrienne ­Trier-Bieniek) 1

“Chocolate and vanilla swirl, ­swi-irl”: Race and Lesbian Identity Politics (Sarah E. Fryett) 15

We Will Survive: Race and ­Gender-Based Trauma as Cultural ­Truth Telling (Kalima Y. Young) 32

Jenji Kohan’s Trojan Horse: Subversive Uses of Whiteness (Katie Sullivan ­Barak) 45

“You don’t look full … Asia”: The Invisible and Ambiguous Bodies of Chang and Soso (Minjeong Kim) 61

Cleaning Up Your Act: Surveillance, Queer Sex and the Imprisoned Body (Yvonne Swartz Hammond) 77

The Transgender Tipping Point: The Social Death of Sophia Burset (Hilary Malatino) 95

All in the (Prison) Family: Genre Mixing and Queer Representation (Kyra Hunting) 111

Pennsatucky’s Teeth and the Persistence of Class (Susan ­Sered) 128

Pleasure and Power Behind Bars: Resisting Necropower with Sexuality (Zoey K. Jones) 140

Anatomy of a Binge: Abject Intimacy and the Televisual Form (Anne Moore) 157

“You don’t feel like a freak anymore”: Representing Disability, Madness and Trauma in Litchfield Penitentiary (Lydia Brown) 174

Piper Chapman’s Flexible Accommodation of Difference (H. Rakes) 194

“Can’t fix crazy”: Confronting ­Able-Mindedness (Sarah Gibbons) 210

About the Contributors 225

Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

“Finally, an anthology that brings together a useful selection of essays on Orange is the New Black…Netflix’s most watched series. Authors pay close critical attention to the show’s diverse assemblage of characters, focusing on its production of gender, politics, and intersectional identities. Scholars, teachers, and fans of the show will welcome this book’s timely contribution to discussions of one of the most-talked television shows in years.”—Dana Heller, Old Dominion University, author of Loving The L Word; “A timely critique of the popular Netflix series, this volume explores the nexus of race, class, gender and sexuality as both a site of resistance to and reification of oppressive stereotypes, brilliantly illustrating the myriad ways in which the show simultaneously creates and contests hegemonic discourse through its diverse characters and compelling storylines.”—Joanne Gilbert, Alma College; “Just when you thought queer representations had become as predictably normative as an episode of Modern Family, along comes Orange is the New Black, a break-out hit for Netflix and an exciting, whirling mess of a series that raises crucial questions about gender, race, class, and sexuality. This wonderful new collection of critical essays plumbs the depths of OINTB, and offers up trenchant analyses that will be of great interest to scholars and students of popular culture, feminist and queer studies, and everyday fans who just can’t get enough of these outside-the-box characters.”—Suzanna Walters, Editor-in-Chief, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.