Return of ‘Orange is the New Black’ is sign of new era

Posted on Jun 3 2014 - 10:41am by Grace Lovvorn

On Friday, June 6, Netflix’s hit series “Orange is the New Black” will return for a second season. The show premiered exclusively on Netflix last July, and follows the journey of Piper Chapman, a privileged New Yorker who has been charged and sentenced as the result of her involvement in a drug smuggling scandal.

As the show’s main character, Piper, is thrown into a completely new world. She is forced to trade her upper-class lifestyle for the occasionally brutal atmosphere of a women’s prison. The show illustrates the numerous differences in the characters, whether it is race, sexual orientation, nationality or background.

The sometimes graphic nature of the program is common, like shows produced by premium cable networks, such as HBO or Showtime; in fact, “Orange is the New Black” creator Jenji Kohan was the driving force behind one of Showtime’s most successful shows, “Weeds.” The similarities between the companies stop there, however. Whereas premium cable networks are usually laden with extra fees, Netflix’s flat rate attracts the masses, from college students to family households. This way, almost anyone willing to pay eight dollars a month can watch current shows with the same experience as those viewed on pricey cable networks. This element is skyrocketing Netflix’s success even further.

“Orange is the New Black” follows a format similar to another Netflix original, “House of Cards.” Instead of being made by another network and eventually sent over to Netflix, these series are made available only for Netflix subscribers. The entire season is then released in bulk — every episode is released at one time to quench an increasing need for binge watching television shows.

The success of “Orange is the New Black” is a sign that television shows no longer have to be produced by major television networks. Only a few years ago, individuals would diligently wait every week for an episode of their favorite television show to air. Netflix is just adding to the instantaneous culture we have come to be so familiar with. Television viewers want to be able to watch shows without cliffhangers, commercial breaks and waiting at least a week just for a following episode. Without a doubt, this is the new era of television, and “Orange is the New Black” is the poster child.

Season 2 of “Orange is the New Black” premieres midnight June 6. The entire 13-episode season will be available for streaming.