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LGBTQ+ on TV: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

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Happy Pride Month! During the month of June, BroadwayWorld will be bringing you a look back on LGBTQ+ representation in television. We will delve into some of the shows and episodes that broke barriers for the LGBTQ+ community on television! The next show in the series is Orange is the New Black, which was a trailblazing Netflix series.


Orange is the New Black premiered on on Netflix on July 11, 2013 and ran for seven seasons on the streamer. The series was based on Piper Kerman's memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison (2010), about her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison.

In Orange is the New Black, convicted of a decade old crime of transporting drug money to an ex-girlfriend, normally law-abiding Piper Chapman is sentenced to a year and a half behind bars to face the reality of how life-changing prison can really be.

The series starred Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael Harney, Michelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, Jason Biggs, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning, Selenis Leyva, Adrienne C. Moore, Dascha Polanco, Yael Stone, Laverne Cox, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Samira Wiley, Jackie Cruz, Lea DeLaria, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Jessica Pimentel ,Laura Gómez, Matt Peters, Dale Soules, and Alysia Reine.

The series is lauded for its portrayal of and for its depiction of race, sexuality, gender and body types. Although it wasn't the first television series to feature lesbian relationships, it opened the door to allow a new generation of diverse queer stories to be told. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK featured not one, but many different lesbian relationships, with characters of diverse backgrounds. Not only did the show feature the relationship between Taylor Schilling's Piper and Laura Prepon's Alex, but the show also featured more complicated relationships like Samara Wiley's Poussey, who had a crush on her best friend, Danielle Brooks' Taystee and the relationship between Uzo Aduba's Suzanne and Emily Althaus' Maureen, who both deal with mental illness.

In addition to their portrayal of queer relationships, the series also featured the actress Laverne Cox, a transgender woman of color. Cox's played Sophia Burset, a trans woman sent to prison for credit-card fraud. Cox spoke about her character, saying, "Sophia is written as a multi-dimensional character who the audience can really empathize with-all of the sudden they're empathizing with a real Trans person. And for Trans folks out there, who need to see representations of people who are like them and of their experiences, that's when it becomes really important." Having a role on the series allowed Cox to a platform to speak on the rights of trans people, and she was even the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time in 2014.

Over the course of its run, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK garnered 16 Emmy Award nominations and four wins. In 2013, the American Film Institute selected the series as one of the Top 10 Television Programs of the Year. And in February 2016, it was reported that ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK remained Netflix's most-watched original series. The success of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK in the ratings and with critics proved that shows centered around members of the LGBTQ+ community, can not only be successful, but can also become a cultural phenomenon.


Check back every Monday and Wednesday in June for new editions in the series!


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From This Author Kaitlin Milligan