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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Women and Storytelling (and TV, I suppose)

There's not much to report on the writing front over here, and then when I decided to check in and write a blog post anyway, I was having issues with Blogger loading. I know, excuses, excuses. So I figured I might as well grab some of my tags to use as a title and ramble a bit about what I've been doing to entertain myself recently.

I believe I've mentioned it on here before at least once, but I'm a fan of Orange is the New Black. Gone are the days of binge watching stuff, as I'm a boring adult who has other obligations/responsibilities, but we still got through all 13 episodes in about a week. And it was SO GOOD. Like, the kind of good that makes you want to run around shouting it from the rooftops, or just shout in general because your body simply can't contain the level of good-ness it just experienced. Was this season flawless? No, of course not. But it was some damn fine television.

I'm in the camp that does believe the show is/was groundbreaking, as it went against a lot of what the entertainment industry believes people want to see (or what they tell people they want to see, anyway). Right off the bat, stories with a female lead are often a harder sell than those with a male lead. And when it comes to the stories OITNB tells, that's just the tip of the iceberg. I found this quote about the main character from an NPR interview with Jenji Kohan (the show's creator) both a little sad and not surprising at all:

"In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan Horse. You're not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it's a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially. The girl next door, the cool blonde, is a very easy access point, and it's relatable for a lot of audiences and a lot of networks looking for a certain demographic. It's useful."

I'll admit to being similar to Piper in terms of background and privilege, so I'm not going to spout off about a lot of things I have little personal experience with. But I hope the fact that the show has been so successful will mean good things in the future when it comes to storytelling and how women are portrayed in the media. There's a large audience filled with people who will now demand diversity in what they want to see and who will refuse to believe that such stories aren't marketable, because there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. Which, in turn, will mean good things (I hope) for those of us who create art and want to find an audience of our own, even when what we create is different from "the way things have always been done".