Thursday, August 27, 2015

Labor and Freedom in OITNB Season 3

The labor movement and the women's movement are woven together with astonishing sophistication and brilliance in season 3 of Orange Is the New Black. I'd like to say it's the most Marxist-feminist thing that has ever appeared on American television, except I'm not sure there's any actual competition in this category. The women's prison setting of OITNB has always allowed it to represent women's bodies in ways not seen elsewhere on television: an overwhelmingly female-majority cast, filled with an astonishing diversity of body types, all wearing formless prison scrubs and more tattoos than makeup. But season 3 takes this representation a step further by asking us to pay attention to these bodies as they work and to think about who owns the results of that labor, in all its (re)productive forms.