Did you watch Orange is the New Black – Season One or Season Two? Are you sad that you have to wait a whole year for season three? Do you have no idea what I’m talking about – orange is the what?
Every writer should watch this show. Even if you’re not fond of the material or you think they got prison wrong, every writer should watch this show just to study the characters. Orange is the New Black is a character study brought to life.
The show takes place in a women’s prison. Over the course of the two seasons, you not only see what these women are like in prison, for a lot of them, you see who they were in their regular lives and how they landed in jail. It’s not always what you think (pay specific attention to Morello and Sister Jane) and it’s a prime example of how situation and location can change a person. This is vital for writers to know, be aware of, and use.
If you have access to Netflix and you have the chance, sit down and watch Orange with a pen and paper. Pick a character and study her as if you were taking a course on character development.
- Who is the character? Why did you pick her?
- What first impression do they make?
- What assumptions do you make about that character based on how they act?
- Who do they interact with in the prison?
- Are they a dominant character or a subservient character?
- If this character is dominant, how does power affect them?
- With each episode, what details do you learn about the character?
- Do you learn why they’re in jail? If so, does the reason surprise you or confirm your assumptions?
- How does this character act in a desperate situation?
- Do you empathize with this character? Why or why not?
- Will this character survive outside of jail? Why or why not?