by Evil Jenji
I was circling around on Instagram Evil Jenji (I do this at least 3 times a day) when I found a post by actress Henny Russel about a Phd student asking Orange fans to answer a questionnaire for a survey about the show. I am curious by nature. Even before answered, I asked Henny if it was possible to identify who the student was! That’s how I met Jessica Jimeno, a 26-year-old French who is writing her doctoral thesis about Orange is the New Black. UUUAAAUUU !! I found another nerd! I call nerd who don’t see Orange just because VAUSEMAN side of history. There are very deep social issues in the show, nerd likes to discover all the issues deeply. I am proud to also be a nerd! Of course, my journalistic side also “turned on” many question. Who was Jessica? what goal of it? because? When? Where? Before start I’m going to request you something: Answer the questionnaire! This study is about us and about the show we love. Remember, fans are all the people who love something, worship, study, watch, watch again, respect. There are fan students, fan journalist, fan actor, fan waiter. I think you belong to some categories.
CLICK HERE to participate
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Evil Jenji – What was your first impression about Orange is the New Black?
Jessica Jimeno – When I started Orange is the New Black, I was thrilled to watch a show picturing the American prison system because I’ve always been curious about that. I found it obviously very fictionalized regarding life in prison but I guess it was also necessary to tell a story. At first, I found it funny and light and I remember telling myself that it was the first time I have ever seen such a wide range of characters with marginal identities either regarding race, gender or sexuality etc. Having all of this in one series was very new, even in 2013 I think. I’ve never seen, for example, a transgender character on screen before Orange.
Evil Jenji – What are the greatest qualities of OITNB in your opinion?
Jessica Jimeno – To me, one of the greatest qualities of Orange is its ability to oscillate between comedy and drama at such point that it ended being defined as a dramedy. But I liked the fact that it slowly moved from comedy to drama because it is from season 4, in my opinion, that the series really changed and began to be politically committed, tackling very serious issues such as police violence, the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration rights etc..
Evil Jenji – Why did you decide to study Orange?
Jessica Jimeno – Before studying Orange I was into the work of Toni Morrison. I wrote my first dissertation on her novel « Jazz » which basically tackles race issues. And I decided to study Orange the year after when I saw the fourth season and the way in which the series tackled this race issue through Poussey’s death. There were so many things to say about it and I thought that seeing race issues could bring something more to the overall study because this particular moment was very hard to watch. So working on Orange presented itself as a way to continue my work on race issues, while tackling other important issues as well, and to get into the analysis of cinematographic content which I adore.
Evil Jenji – What is the purpose of your research?
Jessica Jimeno – Orange is a committed show, either politically or socially and I think it has the power to more or less empower people who watch the show, to make them want to commit to the issues it tackles. I personally was interested in the prison system, and the series allowed me to learn more about it, about the the issues of mass incarceration, privatization, the abuse of power etc. Now, above being interested I’d like to commit myself to change things by talking about it, making people aware of what’s happening, to join associations etc. And it works for every themes the series tackles. The show managed to make me care about this wide range of women with marginal identities (either regarding race, gender or sexuality) and their personal fight and I found it revolting to witness the discriminations they were the victims of. So the purpose of this research is simple : to assert Orange both as a committed series and as a possible vehicle for commitment to the spectators.
Evil Jenji – What are the most relevant themes in it?
Jessica Jimeno – My work will cover both political (prison system, privatization, police violence, Black Lives Matter movement, immigration rights…) and feminist social themes (race, sex, gender, sexuality, intersectionnality…)
Evil Jenji – How can fans participate in this research?
Jessica Jimeno – Fans of Orange can play a very important role in this research as a big part of my work will consist in the evaluation of the ways in which the series is received by its audience. Fans are very active spectators and they produce content that can prove that the series has indeed an impact on its audience : people talk, share ideas, commit themselves etc… I’ve established a questionnaire which aims at proving Orange as a vehicle for commitment. It’s open for everyone who’ve seen the series, so feel free to answer it, it’s basically about your experience as a viewer.
We must support and encourage all initiatives to publicize and make Orange forever. I feel that we need to come together even more. Such initiatives bring light and visibility, and this is what we need to one day have the long-awaited Spin-off.