Jenji Kohan Says Orange Is the New Black Isn't a Drama

Illustration for article titled Jenji Kohan Says Orange Is the New Black Isn't a Drama

We are just 22 days away from from the premiere of the third season of Orange Is the New Black and the beginning of an amazing weekend spent ravenously consuming 14 episodes as if the fate of the world depended on it.


Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan sat down with a group of cast members, including Taylor Schilling and Uzo Aduba, for a panel at the Television Academy and had what seems like an amazing conversation. The Hollywood Reporter was present and highlighted some of the high points of the evening, including some clues about the upcoming season.

If you thought the last season was intense, fear not: Kohan says Season 3 will be “lighter.”

She revealed that the forthcoming 13 episodes will center on faith and motherhood — “lightly,” she added. Kohan prefers to have a theme for every season, but she doesn’t necessarily strictly adhere to it in every episode. Instead, she likes to have it “humming in the background.” Viewers can also expect more backstory reveals as Kohan digs deeper into each of the women’s pasts.

Oh, that was just the sound of me squealing. The backstories are one of the best parts of the show, if only to remind me how we’re all just a couple of bad decisions away from ending up in prison.

Following in the vein of shows like Ally McBeal and Weeds, Orange Is the New Black has defied the efforts to label it plainly as either a drama or a comedy—something that only really matters come awards season anyway.

Though the series is being submitted for Emmy recognition as a drama — part of a recent rule change — Kohan spoke candidly and passionately of the series’ dramedy roots. “It’s very important to play in both worlds,” she said of a delicate balance that she strikes between serious and funny. “I don’t think anything is all humorous or all serious. I remember watching dramas and thinking when there was no humor and no comic relief that they didn’t reflect any sort of reality.

Orange Is the New Black is of course praised for its diversity, which they’ve proven is not at all difficult to pull off, and makes the show infinitely richer for it. Selenis Leyva, who plays Gloria, spoke about being in Mexico and meeting fans who were so proud to finally be represented.

“It’s that finally we’re players. Latinos in television and in Hollywood have been very limited, and finally there is a show that has several Latino characters.” She praised the show as one of few that gives minorities a voice and a place for their stories to be told. Aduba followed, noting how special it is to have a series that doesn’t have a token minority as so many other programs do.


It’s almost as if there’s a massive audience of people who aren’t white males aged 18 to 35 who actually want to be entertained and see themselves represented onscreen and will pay money to do so. Sound the alarms, Hollywood.

Orange Is the New Black returns on June 12.

Image via Getty.

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Kate "The Beehive" Marsh

Nice to know S3 is lighter because all of that Vee negativity was giving me the creeps