10 Reasons “Orange Is The New Black” Is The New Lesbionic TV Show You Should Watch Now

So, our writer Kate is currently strapped to her chair consuming Orange is The New Black so she can recap the whole g-damn thing for y’all, but while she’s doing that, I have an idea: you should start watching Orange is The New BlackLike right now.

We just saw the first four episodes and holy shit, this show is really fucking good and funny and smart and gay. See I’m in this cabin in the woods right now with the four other humans in charge of Autostraddle for an Editorial Summit, and last night we put on the first episode to enjoy while eating dinner and then before we knew it, it was one AM and we were still watching it. We’re four episodes in and if we didn’t have so much work to do, we’d be marathoning this bitch ’til sunset.

I don’t want to spoil anything major for you, so I’m gonna keep this list as general as possible.

Ten Reasons You Should Watch “Orange Is The New Black”

10. This show is super gay.

Emily Nussbaum described it as “the love child of Oz and The L Word.” Accurate.

Untitled 4

that’s the girl from “That 70’s Show” with the tattoo, btw

9. Jodie Foster tried out TV directing for the first time to direct the third episode of this show.

We get a press release every time a lesbian makes a fimo bead, how did we not already know this.


8. Transgender actress Laverne Cox plays transgender character Sophia Burnett

Having a trans* actress play a trans* character! What will they think of next??? Cox told The Huffington Post (where she’s also a regular writer), that “the scripts are amazing and the directors are amazing.”


7. Hot Girls

Seriously every five minutes Rachel was like “why is everybody on this show so attractive???” 

Danielle Brooks as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson, Taylor Shilling as Piper, Vicky Jeudy as Janae Watson and Samira Wiley as Poussey

Danielle Brooks as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, Taylor Shilling as Piper, Vicky Jeudy as Janae Watson and Samira Wiley as Poussey

6. Created by Jenji Kohan

Kohan wrote Weeds and Tracey Takes On, among other amazing television programs. This lady’s good at her shit. As Emily Nussbaum pointed out in her rave review of the show for The New Yorker: “In different hands, this might be a cringe-worthy premise.” Other writers include Lauren Morelli (a woman!) and Sara Hess (a woman of color!).



5. Taryn Manning

From the moment I first encountered Taryn Manning in Crazy/Beautiful, I knew I’d had a crush on her all my life. I don’t think she’s shown up yet in the episodes we’ve seen, but SHE WILL.


4. Natasha Lyonne

Bitch is back! I love her forever, because But I’m A Cheerleader. (Sidenote: Clea Duvall was at the OITNB premiere!)


3. Legendary lesbian comedian Lea DeLaria as butch lez “Big Boo”


2. Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager Plays “Red”


Kate Mulgrew (Red) with Michelle Hurst (Claudette Pelage)

1. So. Many. Women.


So many women! Different kinds of women, too, like crazy diverse. According to imdb, for a lot of these actresses, Orange is the New Black is their first big project, which is amazing. And then there are actresses like Michelle Hurst who you spend forever wondering where you know her from, only to discover she’s played NINE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS on various Law & Order franchises. I’ve never seen Dascha Polanco before and can’t wait to see her again and again.


In her Hitflix interview, Kohan noted: “You have this huge talent pool that is generally tapped for very limited visibility roles, but they’re so good and to be able to let them flex and shine is just so exciting. I would get these audition tapes and it was just one after the other, so good. So we started creating more characters because we wanted to use more of the girls we saw in the audition tapes. There were just so many great Latina actress and black actress that hadn’t had the opportunity to really do this thing, especially in New York, which was a fresh pool for me in terms of faces and talent. Like I said, it was an embarrassment of riches and we really got amazing people.”

It’s true. And the best way for you to get rich fast is to watch it on Netflix!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3202 articles for us.


    • Yes! Honestly, the show’s left me kind of cold so far (I plan to keep watching, but… meh) but I heard the Moth podcast first and was riveted!

  1. I haven’t seen the show or read the book but I do know that the author of the book Orange is the New Black went to Smith College. Now the show’s on my list!

  2. I love these netflix series but it really is a problem for me when all the episodes are available at once. I have to fight very hard not to watch this entire show tonight. LOL

    This looks insanly awesome! It’s funny, I just watched Wentworth so right now it’s gorgeous women in prisons everywhere I look!

  3. I apparently did now pay attention to anything about this show. I started watching it for Laverne Cox and started fangirling when I saw that Donna from That 70s Show was in it as a hot lesbian and Natasha Lyonne was in it. I didn’t recognize Janeway though thought she looked familiar.

    I have only watched the first episode so far but now its my headcanon that Natasha Lyonne’s character is Megan from But I’m A Cheerleader but where Graham didn’t run off with her and she changed her name and things went downhill from there leading her to prison.

    • we couldn’t figure out where we knew Janeway from either, i thought maybe she just looked a little bit like sharon gless. then we looked it up on imdb and i was like OMG

  4. “Having a trans* actress play a trans* character! What will they think of next???”

    Well. How about a trans* actor/actress playing a cis character?

    • Whoa, lets not get too far ahead of ourselves here, don’t you understand that incrementalism is the only thing that’ll work? :P

      yeah, this is a long time coming, I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

      • I’m only at episode 4, but I have to say that I really like how they are bringing up the hormone pills issue. This is a great thing for mainstream TV. I hope this helps educate the general public about trans* issues.

  5. omg, I have SO MANY FEELS about this show! So many amazingly talented actors (SO MANY THEY ARE ALL SO GOOOOOOOD), so much funny/hot gayness…I watched half the series last night before I made myself stop at 3 a.m. because work.

    And I also know that I know jack about prison life and I really want to read a bunch of articles analyzing/critiquing the show.

  6. I’ve been watching this show non stop since I found it on Netflix. AMAZING! 100% recommend.

  7. Laura Prepon (Donna from That 70’s Show) being a smokin’ hot badass is reason enough.

    • I want to have the option to change my sexuality to Laura Prepon now. I can’t lie.

  8. i definitely had things to do today but i started watching this show yesterday and now i’m having trouble leaving my couch.

    every episode makes me laugh and makes me nervous and offends me and makes me think… and i love it.

  9. I am happy I found this here. I wanted to watch it because I love Jenji Kohan’s former creation and all the lady feels I had about the short lived lesbian storyline on Weeds (which also happened in prison). I like the idea of the L Word and Oz having a love child :)

  10. I watched the first four episodes immediately when it came available on Netflix and have been anxiously awaiting an autostraddle article. It is definitely suuuuper gay. I’m a little uneasy about the whole “I USED to be a lesbian” thing, but I feel like the show makes up for that as it goes on.

    • Yeah, that felt a little weird, it’s not to say that it NEVER happens where people’s sexualities wander, but it’s problematic to assume that it’s a “phase” people go through especially when that’s how it’s often portrayed in mainstream media.

    • I don’t see it that way. I think it’s doing a good job making a case for sexual fluidity. As a bisexual woman who feels stigmatized and stifled, I really appreciate this.

  11. I’ve totally fallen in love with this show!!! I started watching PURELY because Laverne Cox was in the show and it was heralded as an outstanding trans* portrayal (which delivered on that promise!) and I’ve become hooked all these other unique and intense characters! Episode 3 which centered around Laverne’s character was phenomenally done, and it had my crying because it hit so close to home both with my struggles in general but also the huge reason of why I fought so hard to transition as young as possible because I’d never have it in me to face this sort of crisis later in life.

    And I’m kinda nerding out knowing that that’s Janeway (Red) because I’m a slight trekkie and I have several friends who WORSHIP Voyager and who I think would totally fangirl at this show!

    • Yeah, Mulgrew’s character is amazing. I like how they are giving us smidges of her backstory and I’m so fascinated to see how it unfolds.
      And yeah, I gave the show a chance purely because I read an interview with Cox and I’m so glad I did!

    • Janeway is why this show has been on my radar, no lies. Plus, smoking’ hot lesbian Donna.

  12. omg i just finished watching a ridiculous number of episodes in a row and came straight here to be like YOU GUYS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS SHOWWWWWWWW! autostraddle: already on it.

  13. So I was kind of ‘eh…eh…eh…okay perks…’ but then suddenly ‘WHUUUT KATE MULGREW’ and now I’m ALL OVER THIS. I cannot understand why between her and Gillian Anderson I did not realise my One True Sexuality before now. SRS.

  14. I watched 8 episodes yesterday. I may or may not have a life. Also I’m a fangirl now.

  15. I was literally going to watch this yesterday and opted for the first half of The Avengers instead because I knew I couldn’t afford losing the rest of my day to it. I knew I was right!

    Once I get all my groceries I’ll be ready for this. So excited.

  16. I want to watch it. Now. But they don’t have Netflix in the Netherlands. What’s a girl supposed to do? I feel like I’m missing out big time!

  17. The only trailer I’ve seen has been more than a bit cringe-worthy, but damn, now I want to see this show. Yeeees, just the kind of show I need right now C:

  18. Welp sorry friends, but I couldn’t make it through this entire article. GOODBYE WORLD HELLLOOO ORANGE

  19. I was sad because for a sec I thought it was a week night and I wouldn’t be able to marathon this, but it’s FRIDAY. Aww yeah. Now where’s that one month free trial Netflix has been trying to get me to use.

  20. I saw this advertise back when I sacrificed to pay for Netflix so I could marathon watch the last season of Arrested Development and I knew i wanted to see it, but I also know that my subscription would be up by the time of the release. Now everyone is talking about it and i feel so out of the loop of awesomeness.

    What to sacrifice this time?!

  21. I’m pretty sure this show went from good to great during that chicken episode. I completely lost it when Red said she wanted to absorb it’s powers.

  22. Best fucking show. Who even remembers that bullshit Showtime nonsense? What was it called again? The Ilene Chaiken Nightmare?

  23. Legit the first thing I thought (after “wow they’ve really nailed middle class white Brooklyn yuppie life perfectly in these flashbacks, actually uncanny”) was “I can’t wait to see this on Autostraddle.”

  24. Did no one else catch where the subtitles on Netflix refer to the guard with the mustache as ‘Pornstache’? Happens right when she gets her mugshot taken.

    • I died of laughter and sold my soul to the show then and there (okay maybe it was the lady love in the first 20 seconds, who knows). Best.thing.ever.

  25. I started watching this last night and OH MY GOD. I got through 3 episodes, starting at eleven, and I got up and went to work at 5 this morning, but it was totally worth it. Then I spent literally all day thinking about Natasha Lyonne. I had never seen her in anything before but I think I am now in love with her.

  26. I only have one episode left. I don’t want the show to be over!!! It’s just so fucking good. Thank you for clarifying that that’s the chick from “but I’m a cheerleader” she looked so familiar, and I couldn’t figure out what I had seen her in. It was driving me insane. And, does Poussey remind anyone else of Brittani Nichols or is it just me?

  27. The interactions between Laura Prepon’s character (Alex) and Taryn Manning’s character (Pensatucky) are literally the funniest things I have ever watched.

  28. My mother just this morning shoved The New Yorker article into my hands and said, you should be watching this!

    Yet more proof my mom is cooler than me!

  29. Ok, so I’ve been ignoring this show, and I was clearly deluded, but now I’ve seen the light. I will go, go now and watch it. And not pack my apartment. Awesome.

  30. Okay, the counselor dude saying he’d put all the butches in a “little boys town” was pretty horrifying, but at the same time, I kinda wanted to see it?

  31. I was wondering when Autostraddle was going to have something to say about this show!

  32. This is The Farm when it’s not in IFC’s clutches. I can’t wait to watch thisssssss

  33. I watched all 13 episodes in a 30 hour period and that is only because I had to go to work yesterday and today. I loved this show. Not sure I can wait until season 2.

  34. Some things:
    I wouldn’t be so quick to call it a lesbian show. I’ve been told that prison is a lot like the group home I was in for two years—gender lines get blurred, what happens there stays there, and shit happens.
    Also, the only reason it’s a racially diverse show is because of the racial issues of the prison system. Although, there are no First Nation women, which is dumb because I’ve ready studies that claim that FN peoples are the most disproportionately represented in the prison system than any other ethnic or cultural group in the US.
    And, on that note, it’s good that Hollywood got something right in having a transgender person play a transgender person, while Lone Ranger is in theaters right now, featuring a white person playing what he believes to be a representation of a Comanche man, based on a picture he found on the internet that was drawn by a white guy using nothing but his imagination, and tropes from the 40s/50s/60s. (Also, AS, it’d be great if you’d get a FN person to talk about it, or republish Adrienne K’s critic)
    I don’t know. I wouldn’t be so quick to shout its praises without first breaking down the realities that it’s based off of.

    • Oh, and I kind of think it’s a bit problematic that Chapman’s lesbian phase also happened to be her druggie phase.

    • Oh, it’d definitely problematic. But then, every teevee show that I can think of is problematic. Like most shows that I love, I also want to read some good breakdowns/critiques; since it was just released, I expect they’ll come in the next week as people have a chance to see the eps.

      Also, it’s my understanding that Chapman never used—she just handled the money.

    • Not saying your point about the group situation isn’t relevant, but on this show, there are three characters who identify as actual lesbians and another one who is seen to have lesbian relationships inside and outside of prison… plus more I’m not sure about… I’m going to say it’s a lesbian show.

    • Do you know if FN women in particular are disproportionately represented in the prison system? I’m guessing yes, but don’t want to jump to conclusions. If that’s the case, I personally think that would be a great topic for a FN writer to take on here at AS.

      And yeah, I’m really excited about playing a trans woman of color character on this show. However, it depends on what the writers/producers actually do with that character to know whether or not that will pan out (I’m in Japan and rarely watch TV anyways though, so I’ll probably be the last to know either way lol).

      • “about [Laverne Cox] playing a trans woman of color character…. ” awkward typos, it’s just a thing I do

      • Yep. One study I read said that despite taking up about 1% of the population, FN women make up one-third of all female inmates in some states.
        Crime on the rez is a pretty standard thing, though. Domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, etc etc etc, mostly compounded by drugs/alcohol, poverty, and few resources. Pretty much a recipe for disaster.

    • I’m a CJ major in college right now, and I just wanted to say that while your right that a lot of the sexual things that go on in a prison (male or female) is a “what happens here stays here thing” you also have to acknowledge that it is a closed system where you are going to have some gay and straight characters both in and out of the system as there isn’t as much of an issue with gender/sexuality inequality in the penal system as there is racial inequality which you see clearly.

      I think the show, so far has acknowledged the fact that prisons are uneven while still fully developing characters and their own personal storylines. Plus you see that a lot of the people, particularly the minorities got more time than was reasonable. (as is stated by Healy in episode one “I don’t understand how a woman backing over a mail man gets four years…”

      There are lines in the show that would usually make me cringe in other shows, but the context and the way people respond makes it better.

      *sorry if I rambled and phrased things badly, but I’ve been up all night. eep!*

  35. I was going to add my own reasons to this list, but then I realized most of them were contained within 10, 8, 7 and 1. Great minds.

    I’m writing this while the opening credits of episode eight roll. Adióóós.

  36. I was going to wait till Monday to re-start my netflix subscription, but now I need to do it tonight so I can start marathoning these episodes.

  37. I think the best thing about it as a racially diverse prison drama is how it humanizes prisoners and actually addresses racism and mass incarceration. Race and class discrimination is addressed head on in nearly every storyline. I was describing it to a friend as passing the Bechdel test, and then I realized it also passed the “Audre Lorde Test,” which totally blew my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever watched television that did that.

  38. Well I better keep the rest of my days off empty if there’s something as good as this. Might as well, I’m on the 4th season of L word and I’m already getting depressed because I don’t know what to watch next!!!! Whole book thing is a plus. READING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. So far I really love the way this show is depicting the main character’s complex sexuality; both Alex and Larry are real sexual and emotional connections for her (rather than Alex just being a sexual experiment or Larry just being an attempt to be straight), although Larry is more tied to normalcy, and Alex, initially, to rebellion (which seems realistic to me), although increasingly it seems as though Chapman is able to be a more authentic version of herself with Alex, which I am finding quite moving. I think the show is sort of avoiding the problem of naming (“bisexuality” and “queer” are words that, as usual in tv and movies, apparently don’t exist), which can leave audiences being like “she’s a straight girl!” or “she’s a lesbian!” when neither seem to be true; but I also like how Chapman has so little apparent internal angst about being involved with both men and women. I also love that scene where she finally grabs Alex, thus saying fuck you to the homophobia she seemed to be submitting to in solitary. AND this has made me realize how much I’ve been missing a show that’s all about women, L word style, and thank god the women on this show are not all cisgendered. I am not so keen, however, on the way the show’s main character/love triangle is all white people; while the range of supporting actresses of color are amazing, it’s just depressing how people who make tv seem to think that shows have to have white people at their center to be “relatable.” The whole thing with Suzanne “crazy eyes” at the beginning, especially the peeing thing, was really problematic to me (oh, the horror of the aggressive black masculine of center dyke in prison!) but then she actually developed into an interesting character so it seemed as though they wanted to work through and undo that stereotype, and in fact re-staged it and thus displayed its inadequacy through the whole radio show thing-but not to the point where the white girl would actually fall for her or someone like her. Anyway; like people have been saying, I’m looking forward to hearing critiques!

    • Yeah, I really like the show so far, but it does bother me that everyone assumes Piper is either lesbian or straight. I mean, bi and pansexuality are not that difficult to grasp. I could see someone not identifying that way if they were closeted and wanted to consider their same-sex attractions a phase, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Piper. She appears to be openly bi/queer, but for unknown reasons refuses to vocalize that. Still, overall I think it’s very well done.

      I also hated the story line with Suzanne at first for similar reasons. I still think it was a little over the top, but I’m glad I kept watching. They definitely humanize the character later on, and you see that Piper was wrong to judge her without knowing the full story.

      Also, has there ever been character who was a queer trans* woman of color on a mainstream television show (and played by a trans* actress no less)? I’ve never seen it before, and I’m so happy that characters like this are finally being written.

  40. I wanna watch this.I was just thinking to myself who’s the cute blonde on the far right and BAM there’s her picture ‘Daya’. AS can read minds :)

  41. In reading through the comments, I’m wondering if some people aren’t aware that this is actually based on a true story. (Book of the same title by Piper Kerman)

    When being sort of nitpicky about certain casting/story decisions it’s important to acknowledge that the producers might have made it that way because that’s what really happened. Certain characters might be the way they are because they are based on real people. Of course, certain things were changed (Alex wasn’t in prison with her, for example…but I’m not complaining about that decision).

  42. I finally just started watching The Fosters and now you’re giving me something else to get addicted to? C’mon guys. WHERE IS ALL MY FREE TIME GOING.

    • EXACTLY. Still trying to suck in all the episodes of L word and suddenly all these shows I NEED to watch pop up.

  43. OH MAH GAHAD!! I want a woman to come up and hit on me the way Alex did to Piper. So Bad.

  44. I don’t know, I’m not that into it… I think because I just watched Wentworth (Australian women’s prison drama) and I found that a lot more compelling.

  45. This convinced me to start watching! I’m only on episode one and it is funny so far. So many good actresses/actors in it.

  46. wait. JODIE FOSTER? i just finished the last episode about six hours ago and am going back to watch episode three again and i have nothing but good feelings about this decision.

  47. Now I know how to distract myself from all the horribleness today/yesterday has brought about!

  48. LOVE this show. I’m actually shocked, every episode, that it’s even happening on my television. But then I remember “IT IS! IT IS ALL HAPPENING!” and then I have so many good feelings.

  49. I watched the whole season over the course of two days and now I’m recommending it to all my friends and experiencing it vicariously through them.

    Another great thing about this show is that because it’s a Netflix original, we get to see plenty of boobs.

  50. I just realized that Red is played by Captain Janeway!!! Trippy! She looks so different. It was while looking at a photo and remembering this expression of deep feeling on her face that it occurred to me, and then I had to look it up. I liked Captain Janeway, but honestly it was more endearing to see Red with this facial expression. Very distinct brow furrow.

    Yep, this show is definitely about 10x better now that I realized it’s her. :P Captain Mulgrew of Starship Dunbar Prison.

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