English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Adhav Arulanandan

Beige is the New Orange is the New Black

Saved the best for last. For this final blog post, I’m going to be writing about the cinematography of Orange is the New Black, focusing on the seventh episode of Season 1, ”Blood Donut.”

The color scheme of the show has the most visual definition, or lack thereof, of any of the other aspects of visual design in the show. The show features very little orange or black, in fact, the most prominent color present is beige. Beige is not only the color of the prisoners’ uniforms, but it also saturates the walls and floors of Litchfield. Even the grass within the prison fences is slightly dead rendering it brown, and the trees surrounding the prison are winterized. Even outside, muted earth tones remain the dominant color scheme. In the outside world, colors are far more pronounced and are clearly brighter. Earth tones seemingly remain the primary color scheme, dark brown and beige being replaced with cream and yellow, but there are flashes of bright colors that break this monotony. These are absent in the prison. Lighting contributes to this visual difference between the two places: in the prison lighting is almost constantly white fluorescent, which is colder, and natural light is almost always absent. Outside of prison, lighting is either warm natural daylight or warm, dim, and yellow incandescent lighting.

So much beige

Another visual choice that greatly impacts the show is its shot selection. The show uses a lot of close up shots, framing the faces of its characters. This is effective as Orange is the New Black is, at its core, a show that focuses on all of its characters, their stories, and their experiences, with their being in prison serving as merely a plot device. Even during dialogue, characters are often framed individually while speaking, letting the audience focus more on what they’re saying. Another aspect of shot selection the show uses well is intermittent long takes. These are used not to increase dramatic effect as they normally are, but to highlight the monotony of prison life by lingering on more mundane moments.

Orange is the New Black is a show that revolves around its excellent visual design and character development. It may miss the target in terms of short term plot as a result of looking long term, but sticking with the show makes the viewers appreciate its core tenets. Using this, the show makes important points about the prison system and the lives of women, while remaining entertaining.

“‘Orange Is the New Black’ Blood Donut.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt2595996/mediaindex?ref_=tt_mv_close.


In my first blog post I mentioned that I chose to write about Orange is the New Black due in part to the excellent job the show’s writers do with character and plot development throughout the season. As the season progresses, it gets more and more clear that the relationships Piper Chapman has with people outside the walls of Litchfield are becoming tenuous. While there have been hints since Episode 1, Episodes 5 and 6 are the first in which there are obvious signs of distrust and frustration between Piper and her friends and family. For this post, I’ll be focusing on Episode 6, “WAC Pack.”

In Piper’s first appearance in this episode, she is being visited by her mother Carol, who has already been set up to be a judgmental and distant character. We see both in the interaction between the two. Carol starts off mentioning an event from Episode 5, in which Piper goes chasing after a chicken and leaves Polly hanging on an important business call. Carol does not understand what occurred there at all, and questions Piper’s mental state.

I, personally, believe the chicken was real.

This is one major reason that Piper’s relationships are being tested: a lack of understanding of the world inside the prison. Time flows a lot faster outside Litchfield, and in terms of everyone else’s fast-paced lives, Piper is seen as slowing them down. This is especially true in terms of Piper and Polly’s budding business. Piper wants to contribute as much as she used to, but with all of the obstacles in the way, Polly is doing more are more on her own. This leads to a rift between the two best friends as well, which is only partially patched up by phone call in this episode.

But it is Piper’s relationship with her fiancé Larry that appears to be breaking down the fastest. There is clear distrust between them, and they have not been honest with each other, with Piper failing to tell Larry about Alex being in prison with her, and Larry falsely telling Piper that Alex did not name her in the indictment in a misguided attempt to keep them apart. This comes to a head in Larry’s visit later in the episode, where Piper and Larry have a brief fight about Larry wanting to write an article about Piper being in prison.

Works Cited: “WAC Pack.” Orange Is the New Black Wiki, orange-is-the-new-black.fandom.com/wiki/WAC_Pack.

More Than Just Criminals

I thought I was going to have to search really deep in order to find a central theme of a single Orange is the New Black episode, as episodes of the show often feature several plotlines that each try to advance a certain theme or narrative, something the show is able to do in its 55 minute format without seeming too scattered. In comes Episode 4 of Season 1, “Imaginary Enemies.” The episode, while still featuring multiple plotlines with only surface level overlap as far as characters go, relates these plotlines by using them to drive home an overarching theme.

Get it, drive home, because they lose a screwdriver in the episode haha I’m hilarious

This show does not want you to judge its characters before knowing their stories, their backgrounds, and their motivations first. Where this episode pushes this theme most blatantly is in this episode’s flashback storyline, which features Piper Chapman’s new roommate, Miss Claudette. Throughout previous episodes, Miss Claudette has been portrayed as mean without reason and overly controlling. The first two flashbacks explain why this is. We first see her as a young girl who, it can be assumed, is subject to indentured servitude as a way to pay off her parent’s debt. In the second flashback she is a grown woman whom we see has risen the ranks and now runs the cleaning service she worked for. She is shown in the second flashback being as stern with her young workers as her boss was to her in the first flashback. Her reason for asking discipline of others in prison is now understood; it is what she has known her whole life. Outside of flashbacks, the episode also shows that Miss Claudette is capable of sympathy, something that most in the prison thought impossible, after Piper stands up to her.

The episode also approaches this theme from another angle, dealing with some of the mental health issues that inmates deal with and how they often stay hidden. The lunchtime conversation that occurs between Piper and Nichols reveals that both of them are having a hard time coping with their conditions, and Piper even assume Nichols has found a way to deal with them, asking her when the depression ends, to which she responds “I’ll let you know.” Nichols also has a conversation with Alex, in which Alex breaks down and reveals that she too is experiencing depression.

This theme is tied in with the rest of show through the storyline involving the lost screwdriver, which shows that inmates are often dehumanized and thought of as nothing more than criminals. Caputo even explicitly emphasizes that the women in the prison are criminals during the search for the screwdriver as a way to ensure the guards do not show them sympathy. This is something the entire show combats: by following the lives of the women in this prison, we see how they are human and can be sympathized with.

Gender in a Women’s Prison

When I first read this assignment, I was wondering how I would be able to write a post about gender representation in Orange is the New Black, a show about a women’s prison where the vast majority of characters are women. And then I re-watched Season 1 Episode 3, which by itself deals with gender enough for me to write multiple posts about it (only doing this one though).

Within the nearly all female cast of characters in the show, both inside and outside of prison, there is a great amount of diversity, not just demographically but also in terms of personality and background. No two female characters in the show so far, who have been fleshed out to any extent, share the same blueprint. The same can’t be said of the few significant male characters, who are either perverted or apathetic prison guards (with the notable exception of Bennett), or boring like Larry (at least I think that’s his name, I don’t know. He’s boring).

“Lesbian request denied.”

The title of this episode is “Lesbian Request Denied,” which lets you know pretty clearly that it is going to deal with sexual orientation. LGBT representation and issues are heavily shown throughout the first three episodes, with Piper having been in a relationship with Alex before the events of the show, the presence of many lesbian inmates, a handful of lesbian sex scenes, and homophobic attitudes coming from multiple characters. In this specific episode, Piper is pursued/stalked by “Crazy Eyes” Suzanne, and Piper turns her down, but not before Crazy Eyes turns in a request for them to be moved in together, which the apparently homophobic Officer Healy strikes down with the line, “lesbian request denied.”

Pre-transition Sophia, a.k.a Marcus, was played by Laverne Cox’s identical twin brother.

But as is the case with many episodes of Orange is the New Black, the focus of this episode isn’t Piper, but the show’s transgender character, Sophia, and her struggles. The arc follows Sophia’s dose of estrogen being reduced and then canceled altogether, leading to her asking her wife to smuggle some in, a request which causes tension between them. As in the first episode, flashbacks help to establish the story of Sophia’s transition and the reason she is in prison. Sophia’s son, Michael, does not cope well with his father making the transition, and reports her to the police committing credit card fraud, which she did to pay for the surgery. Her wife remains supportive through the transition, but not without some resistance to the idea of her getting sexual reassignment surgery. When Sophia asks her to smuggle in estrogen, she bristles at the idea and tells Sophia to “man up.” She also mentions that her decision to support Sophia has led to her becoming distant from her family, which shows their transphobic attitudes, something Sophia will deal with throughout the show.

Annotated Bibliography (Women in Sports Media)

  1. Harrison, Guy. “‘You Have to Have Thick Skin’: Embracing the Affective Turn as an Approach to Investigating the Treatment of Women Working in Sports Media.” Feminist Media Studies, vol. 18, no. 5, Oct. 2018, pp. 952–955. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14680777.2018.1498123.


This article looks at the currently quantitative approach to examining women’s representation in sports media and sports journalism, and suggests the addition of a qualitative aspect that takes into account the emotional toll that working in the sports industry has on female reporters. Harrison suggests taking this affective approach as a result of what has been found to be a near requirement that women in sports media have to add to their work a component of affective labor, that is, they have to control their own emotions in order to succeed. Harrison states that this requirement comes from the pervasive sexist attitudes in sports media, as well as existing double standards, and through interviews with ten female sportscasters, has concluded that having this extra burden can cause women to either quit or not fully invest in the sports industry, keeping representation down. As this article looks at the ways in which studies related to women’s representation in sports media are conducted and how conclusions are drawn, it will be integral in understanding all of the following sources, which are studies related to women’s representation in sports media.


  1. Gretel Kauffman. “How Far Have Women in Sports Media Really Come?” Christian Science Monitor, 6 Oct. 2016, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost, library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=118571800&site=ehost-live.


This article from Christian Science Monitor is a qualitative, somewhat surface-level analysis of the progress made in terms of women’s representation in sports media. It finds that despite an increase in the number of women entering the field of sports journalism both in the classroom and in the field, sportscasting remains a male-dominated field with women having made progress in numbers but not up the ranks or with treatment. One of the female anchors interviewed for the piece also attributed it to the fact that the job is highly demanding with few benefits, as well as to the fact that sports in general is viewed as a masculine culture. The majority of this article is comprised of statements from female sportscasters who were interviewed, so the article serves as a good source of first hand accounts from women who have worked as sports journalists and have seen the progress that has been made, or the lack thereof, directly.


  1. Schmidt, Hans C. “Forgotten Athletes and Token Reporters: Analyzing the Gender Bias in Sports Journalism.” Atlantic Journal of Communication, vol. 26, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 59–74. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15456870.2018.1398014.


This is a mostly quantitative study of both the coverage of women’s sports and the representation of women in sports journalism. Schmidt conducted a study of various sports-related newspaper articles in three English-speaking countries, collecting data on both the subject matter of the article and on the authors of the articles and the environment in which those authors worked. Most data in the study was collected through analysis of the selected newspaper articles, which meant that there was an element of subjectivity in the study, for example, it had to be decided whether an article was respectful towards women or not. The rest of the data was gathered through surveys of both male and female sports journalists. It was found that the vast majority of articles were about men, and a significant number of those about women referred to them in a domestic role. It was also found that older male journalists were less open to increasing the number of women in the field. The author attributes these findings to the “masculine hegemony” of sports culture. This study provides hard data about the representation of women in sports print media.


  1. MILNE-TYTE, ASHLEY. “Getting Women in the Game.” Quill, vol. 103, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 16–21. EBSCOhost, library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=100812095&site=ehost-live.


This article addresses certain trends that point to an increase in women’s interest in sports and sports media, specifically that there are more female sports fans and more female journalism majors interested in sports, and draws the distinction between that and the stagnant rate at which women are actually entering the field and the role that they have once they do enter. The article claims multiple reasons for this observation, such as harassment faced on the job, a lack of importance placed on hiring women from corporations, the difficulty of the job, and the prevailing role of the female TV reporter as a “token” reporter. Another reason given is the decline of the journalism industry in recent years, specifically in print media. Multiple viewpoints are provided in this article, from both male and female reporters and executives, regarding situations related to hiring practices and the treatment of women in the industry.


  1. Greer, Jennifer D., and Amy H. Jones. “A Level Playing Field?: Audience Perceptions of Male and Female Sports Analysts.” International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, vol. 6, no. 8, June 2012, pp. 67–79. EBSCOhost, library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=91821599&site=ehost-live.


This article is about a two-factor study that was conducted in which the perceived competency, agreeability, and likability of a male or female reporter covering both a “male” or “female” sport (football and volleyball, respectively. This was determined from previous studies). There was found to be partial congruency with relation to gender, that is, women were perceived as being better at covering at the female sport, while there was typically no difference in the perception of the coverage of the masculine sport. The study did hypothesize full congruency with gender, and reasoned that the difference was either due to limitations in the study (one sport being much more popular than the other, which leads to participants in the study having their own opinions about it), or due to an increased openness and acceptance of women covering sports, or at least more “feminine” sports. This study is of interest as it relates the gender of the reporter to that of the athletes being covered, and it also is based off of a quantitative survey.


  1. MAHLER, JONATHAN. “In Coverage of N. F. L. Scandals, Female Voices Puncture the Din.” New York Times, vol. 164, no. 56632, 22 Sept. 2014, pp. D1–D6. EBSCOhost, prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=98392968&site=ehost-live.


This article discusses some of the positive aspects of women being represented adequately in sports media. The specific example Mahler provides is that of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal that occurred during the start of the 2014 NFL season, and how the opinions of prominent female sportscasters took center stage and were an important part of the conversation surrounding it. However, it also talks about how these opinions, while their importance is increasingly recognized, have not been integrated into the mainstream and are still separated from the rest of sports coverage. This article was written during the height of the Ray Rice scandal, and as a result it is an immediate review of the effect that women can have in sports media, and how this effect can be reduced by the fact that there is a lack of representation and that women’s opinions are not made audible.

She Really Wasn’t

Revisiting Orange is the New Black (kind of) after watching the first season during my junior year of high school, watching the first episode is jarring. Specifically, seeing the Piper Chapman of the pilot after seeing the Piper Chapman of later in the season is jarring.

I chose to focus on the writing of the pilot episode of the show because I want to break down the ways the rest of Orange is the New Black is set up through it (and definitely not because I didn’t have time to re-watch any other episodes). In reviewing the writing of “I Wasn’t Ready,” I will try to keep my focus on this episode, but I may have to write about future episodes. You have been warned.

“I Wasn’t Ready” was written by Jenji Kohan and Liz Friedman. Save for the opening voiceover monologue, the episode is heavily dialogue driven. In a monologue-heavy show, we learn a lot about the protagonist, so much so that all other characters serve only as auxiliaries. By depending on dialogue, the show ensures that, even if the protagonist is clearly Piper, other characters can be developed and can change as much as Piper will, and can affect Piper’s own character development. The decision to depend on dialogue allows for the existence of more multi-dimensional and fluid characters.

Image result for orange is the new black characters season 1

Piper is the clear protagonist but that doesn’t stop the other characters from being almost as fleshed out as she is.

The structure of the episode bears many similarities to shows such as The Good Place in its dependence on flashbacks to provide background information on the plot in small, often non-linear fragments. In Orange is the New Black, this tactic is also used to give viewers details about Piper’s past involvement with the drug cartel in small parcels, in order to keep the viewer hooked. By not revealing everything about Piper’s past in the first episode, the show writers ensure that they can continue to use it to drive the show along and reveal more about Piper throughout the course of the show. The pilot uses these two technical details to great effect, making for an episode that serves as an excellent foundation for the show.

However, this is only evident in retrospect. The pilot fails to stand on its own, depending way too much on the final cliffhanger to keep viewers watching the show. In many ways, the episode plays it safe (which is typical of a pilot). For example, it addresses racial division in the prison, but only with a surface level mention of it. Perhaps this is an intentional choice, made in order to accentuate how the show dives into these topics later on. But despite the writing having a limited immediate effect, Kohan and Friedman did an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the show.

Works Cited

“‘Orange Is the New Black’ I Wasn’t Ready (TV Episode 2013).” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt2400770/.

The Best Blog in the Game

How’s it going everyone? I am Adhav Arulanandan, no worries if it takes you twenty tries to get that right. I’m from Crystal Lake, Illinois, about an hour out from the Windy City. I am a first year Aerospace Engineering major (and Physics soon). I will be graduating.

My high school English classes ran the gamut from the boring and rote Literary Explorations III to the more exciting and free Creative Writing. They were always writing-heavy though, which was an issue since I was awful at writing going in to high school. All the practice helped me get a lot better, and it was through my Creative Writing class that I learned the issue was that I concerned myself too much with what I anticipated my audience’s reaction to be. I focused more on just getting my ideas onto the page with less of a self-inflicted filter, and I saw my writing quality rise. My biggest regret was not realizing this sooner, since I never had the opportunity to apply this to my speaking ability. I’m still a nervous wreck when I get up to speak to any crowd of more than zero people. This is (obviously) my first English class at Tech, and it is where I hope to improve my public speaking skills the way I did my writing in high school.

I haven’t watched much TV in the last three years, mostly because in my high school dorm, we didn’t have cable (I also procrastinated a lot, leaving myself no free time to watch TV, but let’s just blame my high school). I would, however, go home most weekends to Bears games and recorded episodes of The Big Bang Theory and The Middle.

Don’t give me that look of pity, we’re relevant again.

My brother and I also tried to finish Friends, which for some reason took us three summers, and this summer we started BoJack Horseman. My junior year roommate binged Netflix shows, and I often watched with him, even during the following year when we were no longer roommates. The shows we watched (though I missed episodes in between), included The Office (US), How I Met Your Mother, and …

It’s been a while.

Orange Is the New Black, which is the series I will be reviewing for this class. It is a show about a women’s prison and inmate Piper’s journey through a life that she, at first, is clearly not cut out for. A friend introduced it to my roommate and I by gushing over the incredible job the creators do with character development throughout the series, and even by watching a few episodes of the first season I was able to see what he was talking about. I was a fan, but homework piled up and took over, so I never finished. But now I have an excuse: it is, literally, my homework to watch this show.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén