The Representation of Latinas in Orange Is the New Black




Millette, Sarah Weatherford

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This thesis examines the representation of the Latina characters in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, created by Jenji Kohan. Inspired by Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, the series creates a unique representation of Latinas in US media. The first chapter of this thesis provides a contextual overview while focusing on women in the US prison system, gender and sexuality, and inter-ethnic relationships in the series. Following the works of Judith Butler and Teresa de Laurentis, gender and sexuality are proven to be fluid. Chapter One contains a comparison with other television series with homosexual characters including Will & Grace and Bad Girls, as well as a study of Episode 6, Season 2: “You Also Have a Pizza.” Inter-ethnic relationships in the series are the final focus of this chapter. The second chapter is a linguistic study. First is an examination of language use in Piper Kerman’s memoir. Explanations of the terms “code-switching” and “translanguaging” are provided using the works of Barbara E. Bullock, Almeida Jacqueline Toribio, and Suresh Canagarajah. The use of Spanish and code-switching of the Latina inmates in the series is studied in several specific scenes. Finally, additional language use in the series is examined, specifically German and Russian. The third and final chapter is a study of Latina representation in US media. A brief history of representation is provided, primarily following the works of Arlene Dávila, Isabel Molina-Guzmán, and Angharad N. Valdivia. Character studies of Flaca Gonzales, Gloria Mendoza, and Maritza Ramos are used to evidence the importance of the Latina characters, as is Dayanara Diaz and John Bennett’s romantic relationship. The chapter concludes with a look at the role of Netflix and the implications for Visual Culture Studies.



Latinas, US media, Television studies, Code-switching, Women in prison, Fluid sexuality