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

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood April 24, 2014 at 11:55AM

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.
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Orange Is the New Black

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.’ ”


Orange Is the New Black EW poster

This article is related to: Television, TV, TV Interviews, Entertainment Weekly, Netflix, Orange is the New Black


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.