Culture

Jenji Kohan

“Orange Is the New Black” is this year’s new paradigm-shifting television show. The daring comedy-drama about a well-to-do woman from New York who serves a year in a minimum security prison has been a critical hit. Though not eligible for a 2013 Emmy, it is the most successful series to have streamed on Netflix. And the mastermind behind the 13 episodes is director Jenji Kohan.

The series is based on the memoirs of Piper Kerman, who pleaded guilty to money laundering for a drug operation led by her former girlfriend and wrote about her time in a women’s prison in Danbury, Conn. Kohan turned the book into a screenplay and into a runaway success. Kerman’s blond, yuppie character, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), allows viewers to understand the dynamics of prison life through the eyes of an outsider.

Kohan’s candid approach to dealing with issues of race, class and sexuality was appreciated by viewers, who saw an accurate reflection of wider social issues in her depiction of a women’s prison.

Jason Biggs stars as Kerman’s Jewish fiancé, Larry Bloom, based loosely on Kerman’s Jewish husband, Larry Smith. Some TV critics have criticized the show for portraying Bloom’s family as stereotypically Jewish.

Kohan, 44, has her own Jewish family to rebut stereotypes. Her brother David created “Will & Grace”, and her father Buz Kohan won 16 TV awards. She earned her first Emmy for “Tracey Takes On…” and is the creator of the award-winning series “Weeds.” Netflix renewed “Orange Is the New Black” for a second season even before the first episode aired in July.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.