Orange is the New Black and its Representation of Women's Prisons

Faculty Sponsor

Danielle Lavin-Loucks


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 2017


First airing in 2013, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is a Netflix original series. The series focuses on the life of fictional characters in a women's prison, based on Piper Kerman's real life experience behind bars. The purpose of this research is to connect how well OITNB relates to real life women's prisons. I expand upon prior research according to four reoccurring variables: race, gender, sexuality, and correctional issues. I will explore how these key variables are represented within season one of OINTB. I argue that season one gives visibility to women incarcerated; however, minorities and the LGBTQ community are often negatively portrayed, thus perpetuating harmful stereotypes. For those who have no prior knowledge on life behind bars, OITNB provides viewers with a fictionalized insight of a women's correctional facility. While this portrayal is fictional, many scenes mirror real life incidents occurring in America's women prisons.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

I took information from prior research and compared it to OITNB portrayal of women's prisons. I wanted to study if this show can help people to understand what life is like behind bars. The media sparked my interest for this project, as they often perpetuate stereotypes and ignore real problems in women prisons. My expectations were to highlight the real issues going on behind these prisons and end negative stereotypes of these women.

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