TV

Orange Is the New Black: Cons & Pros

June 22, 2015
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it’s pretty hip to dig
Orange Is the New Black
right about now . .
it’s got that
maximum security buzz . .
but guess what:
everyone’s right about it:
it’s that good of a show

why?
your basic
promising premise,
quality characters,
witty writing,
well paced plot,
keen casting
acclaim-worthy acting . .
you know: standard/typical/the usual/the norm
when it comes to
what makes a good show

in other words,
in some ways,
Orange Is the New Black
isn’t exceptional,
except that it’s exceptionally
well done . .

that being said, here are
some significant cons
as well as pros
about the show . .
so you can arrive at the
correct conclusion yourself:
you should bingewatch posthaste

Cons

surprise! Orange Is the New Black
isn’t perfect . .
in fact, i’d like to call out two significant cons,
particularly for people coming from
a Christian worldview

#1: mature content . . and bunches of it . .
if the phrase “women in prison” doesn’t
clue you in to that, allow me to remove all doubt:
this show is for mature audiences . .

of course, from my perspective,
it’s more vital to find
gold, though it be in the gutter,
than it is to have zero knowledge
of the larger culture
(more on this below) . .
but for those who see it differently
and count
nudity, language, violence, etc.
as beyond-question deal breakers,
perhaps steer clear

#2: heavy-handed agendaing . . and bunches of it . .
with previous seasons, i always knew that
the creators of the show had perspectives –
we all do –
but with season 3, i felt preached at
far too often . .
far too many events, characters, etc.
seemed too obviously orchestrated
to make whatever point . .
and, by and large, these points are of
a particular flavor,
socio-political-religio-philosophically speaking . .
and while i’m not “shaken” by this,
spiritually speaking,
it was unpleasantly noticeable this go around

Pros

aside from the pros listed in passing above
(premise, characters, writing, plot, casting, acting),
it seems to me that there’s one more
glaring pro
when it comes to
Orange Is the New Black,
especially for the spiritually-minded:
the show is an expose on the
universal human need for fulfillment
and the spectacular inefficacy
of our most oft-tried ways to achieve it . .

As Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly said of the show, “…so many characters are forced to confront hard truths about their busted, hollow selves and flawed strategies for fulfillment.”

a million percent “yes” . .
to me, this is the story of the show:
broken people trying to be healed
and having varying degrees of “success,”
but plenty of heartwrenching failure

and how is this a pro?
because people need to see the problem
before they care about the solution . .
because you have to be down
before you can come up . .
because dark comes before light . .

in other words: Orange Is the New Black,
Christianly speaking,
is in “pre evangelism” mode –
it not only understands and
dramatizes brokenness,
but it dramatizes the failed fixes,
and thereby sets the stage for the real one . .

Christianly speaking,
i believe that the real “fix” is Christ himself

of course, anyone who’s seen the show can confirm:
Orange Is the New Black has plenty
to say about Christians and the faith and the church . .
and though (imho) Christianity got a much
fairer shake in seasons 1-2 than it did in 3,
in general, i don’t think the show’s creators
would agree that “Jesus is the way” –
at least not in the way that’s
usually meant . .

but guess what: that’s okay too . .
regardless of how far along the path
this show’s creators would walk with
Christians, it’s undeniably true:
they’re making an excellent show
that paints some key Christian principles
in vivid detail . .

what principles?
that people are broken
and need fixing . .
that we’ll try to fix ourselves
in many ways,
many of which won’t work . .
that, regardless,
we’ll keep trying . .

Christianly speaking,
i think a show that meditates on these,
is something worth time . .

Christianly speaking,
i hope Orange Is the New Black
will continue to be popular and
continue to echo and highlight
brokenness and failed fixes
to its audience . .

Christianly speaking,
i hope that shows like this,
by those in the church,
won’t be summarily dismissed due to
moral and/or
socio-political-religio-philosophical quibbles . .
because while those things matter, of course,
so too it matters to see the world
as it sees itself,
in its most current and rawest form,
as shows like this, uniquely, allow . .

and so too it matters to have our sense of
desperation for the desperate lost
bolstered by doing so

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credit: TheMovieDB.org

Matt Hill has contributed to hollywoodjesus for the past decade, taking on movies, music, books, games and other topics. He writes from Michigan, where he lives with his wife and kids. Visit facebook.com/sundayiam for free music from his sweet, super-secret Christian rock band.

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