When Netflix launched Orange is the New Black in July 2013, my Facebook feed was taken over by quadruples of “you MUST watch this show” and “it TOOK OVER MY LIFE” posts. I decided to defy the aggressive caps-lock users and instead re-watch New Girl for the third time.
Then I read Lauren Morelli’s article on her experience being a first-time staff writer on the show, and it struck me that this show was important to her beyond her job, but as a woman.
I knew already that I would like it. Maybe I would even love it and rewatch it immediately. But her article made me wonder if it would mean something to me as an alumna of a women’s college.
…Which I loved, by the way. I should make that clear. A women’s college is not literally like jail. For one, I paid (and am still paying) handsomely to attend my college, and they’re in jail for free. Ba-dum-cha.
There is definitely something special about an environment where only women are living and working together that is difficult to describe, let alone put down on paper and translate into a television show. And continuously, OITNB has captured those details.
For instance, how all friendship and politics revolve around the cafeteria and those who run it.
This authentic point of view makes sense, since Piper Kerman, the author of the book the show is based on, and the inspiration for the main character, is a women’s college grad herself – a Smith alumna.
She wrote in the memoir that the same “feminine ethos” was present in both institutions, which translates to “empathetic camaraderie and bawdy humor on good days.”
“Single-sex living has certain constants,” she said, “whether it’s upscale or down and dirty. At Smith College the pervasive obsession with food was expressed at candlelight dinners and at Friday afternoon faculty teas; in Danbury it was via microwave cooking and stolen food.”
Here are some of the other ways an all-girl’s school is kind of like jail: Read More