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'Orange Is the New Black' Covers EW, Showrunner Kohan Speaks Her Mind on Awards, Rejection, Beauty Standards and More

Television
by Beth Hanna
April 24, 2014 11:55 AM
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The Litchfield ladies of Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" cover this week's edition of Entertainment Weekly. Inside, showrunner Jenji Kohan ("Weeds") speaks her mind about the series being initially rejected by HBO and Showtime, about the show's dramedy aspects making it hard to categorize for awards, and how she wanted to get away from the "summer-campy" leanings of Season One.

Plus, Laura Prepon (who plays Taylor Schilling's inmate ex Alex) addresses rumors about fellow Scientologists frowning on her playing a lesbian.

The trailer for Season Two is here, with the show returning with all episodes on June 6.

Kohan on the tone of Season Two:

“We had a theme for season 2. A little darker, a little more fractured. We wanted to explore the groups one at a time. It was getting a little summer-campy, and we wanted to address the realities that this is prison.”

Kohan’s eff-you aggravation on “OITNB” being turned down by both HBO and Showtime:

“Listen, my name should have been enough. But in the beginning Netflix was looking for names.”

On standards of female beauty, and entertaining vs. teaching in TV:

“What’s considered the standard of beauty is so boring at this point. It’s not sexy or hot or interesting. It would be nice to shift the perception a little, though I know it’s a big ship to turn around. I don’t set about to say, ‘Today we’re going to teach people that this is oppressive and wrong.’ My first job is to entertain and engage people. I want to be the party starter. And if people start talking about it, then I’m doing my job.”

On the lack of awards love (zero SAG nominations, and a lone Golden Globe nomination for lead Taylor Schilling):

“No one knows where to put us,” says Kohan, who will submit the show in the comedy category for the Emmys. “The comedy people say we have to write three jokes a page. The drama people say it’s not serious enough. Part of me thinks the system is broken. Is it a bummer? Yeah. Does it affect us financially [with budgets]? Yeah, absolutely. But a little part of me is relieved I don’t have to buy a dress.”

Laura Prepon on the rumor that she wouldn’t return for Season Two because her religious community (Scientologists) objected to her playing a lesbian:

“It’s ridiculous because it’s not true,” she says. Alex shows up in at least three episodes, and Prepon says the limited number is due to a producing project she’s not yet ready to announce. “I’m a huge supporter of the LGBT community. I try to have a good spin on [the maelstrom], which is ‘Okay, cool, people are huge fans of the show and my character.’ ”


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