What Does ‘Orange is the New Black’ Mean?

Orange is the New Black is a new original series on Netflix. A video says a billion words isn’t a saying, but it’s probably true. Watch the trailer to get the gist of the show, or read below to see our description, and read our interpretation of the show’s title.

What’s the Premise of the Show?

One of the worst consequences of the drug war is that a lot of really awful people make money from it, but what if there was someone more relatable? Enter Piper Chapman. She gets offered a whole bunch of cash to move even more cash to help facilitate a drug deal. I mean, who wouldn’t consider moving a briefcase across the United States for a Kia Sorento? The premise of Orange is the New Black is that Piper gets busted moving the money so she has to go from upper-crusty New Yorker, to someone imprisoned at a New York federal penitentiary. The show revolves around her trials and tribulations in prison life, where she doesn’t exactly fit the bill for your standard prisoner. While Piper isn’t a fan of being called Taylor Swift in the above trailer, it’s hardly the worst she’ll have to endure.

Breaking Down the Title.

Let’s break down the title into two parts. We’ll start with probably the more recognizable part of it, the phrase “the new black.” This phrase is so common in pop culture, it has its own Wikipedia page. On the page you can read that the phrase is in fact “_____ is the new black,” where the blank is some suddenly popular thing. While the phrase can be used to refer to anything (like Furbies or dieting), it’s particularly relevant to fashion:

It was used repeatedly in the 1980s to indicate that other colors (frequently brown, navy blue, or grey) were temporarily displacing black’s position in fashion or industrial design as a versatile staple that complemented all other aspects and was generally unobjectionable. Via Wikipedia

Now, orange refers to the color one stereotypically wears in prison. Prison jumpsuits are often depicted in films and television as this color. Now, the title, Orange is the New Black, isn’t saying that going to prison is cool or anything like that (even though that would be closer to literal).

So, what does it mean?

The title is is a play on the phrase that has to do with the main character’s background before she goes to prison. Piper Chapman, the main character is a pretty, white affluent New Yorker. Her type would be in circles that use the phrase “______is the new black” and the title reflects the contrast of her persona to those of the other women in the prison since well, Orange (jumpsuits) is (are) the New Black, at least for her. She will no longer be occupied with questions of high fashion, but of how to survive prison. So, in this reality, the trend and popular thing going around isn’t some new color or look, it’s just orange. Because in prison, the only reality is that you are stuck there and you have to survive, and this is the premise of the show. Pretty perfect, actually.

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  1. What an odious concept. Black is black—-don’t co-opt the suffering of black people for a freaking white POV book or television show. This is so wrong but, predictably—based upon white ignorance and upon white issues of entitlement. Whites are always fucking with black history and culture in the worst possible way. Jews would lose their minds and shut this mess down in an instant if the phrase were ” Orange is the new Holocaust”. Highly stupid. Highly offensive.

    • I can only assume you’re being silly since “the new black” has always referred to a fashion color. It has never had anything to do with race. If you’re not kidding, then I suggest you quit thinking the world is out to get you.

    • Suffering of black people, my ass. You lazy sonsofbitches want everything handed to you because of your “suffering.” Well, that has nothing to do with Orange is the new Black.; you are just playing the race card because that is what you do. If something doesn’t go your way, just holler “Racism” real loud til you get your way.

  2. Don’t be naive, it’s not a coincidence. Well, it’s true that the Orange military now is as intimidating as Black crime but World War III is not very likely to happen. The more close reality is that many Asian American kids have been influenced by Black culture a lot so they don’t feel as intimidated by always having to be influenced by White culture. Now the white is saying that they are influenced by Asian pop/fashion culture too now with this white woman dressed in Orange, like they used to with the Black culture. I think this kind of environmental influence and interaction is so normal, there is nothing to be concerned about.
    But the white is so concerned that they are trying to intimidate the Orange and Black saying that if you two keep ganging up on us, we will send you into prison because you have to survive in our country, you are at the end of the day not living in China or Africa. Okay I think my ID is gonna get banned.

    • Okay my apology, I actually never watched this show. I just made this inference based on the above article and the so obvious title. After reading a little bit about the storyline, I just learned it’s about feminism…-_-what ignorance…I really should start watching more American TV shows, which I never really did even when I was in America.

  3. Bull Shit. What a poor attempt to cast a shadow of doubt over the real truth. Just because you use a bunch of useless jargon along with a vague story, doesn’t mean you are successful at your little game of tricknology.

  4. You should read up on the show. It is based on the memoirs of Piper Kerman who spent time in prison for laundering drug money. Her memoir is titled Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. She went from affluent Bostonian upbringing to inmate. That is all. Only ‘ The New Black ‘ was right at all. And Yvonne, now it’s not racist but feminism? Don’t be led. Not everything is an -ist or -ism. Would a prison show with male inmates be inherently chauvinist? And Paris, your presumptions about the ‘Jews’ and generalizations in general are what is highly offensive and indicitavely stupid.

  5. Coming from a man who barely watched the show,The phrase Orange is the new Black has nothing to do with the color of the outfits but the story itself.The disguise of the phrase is the fashion sense.Behind the mask is the fact that it’s about a white women in prison.Whats being said is prison is the new trend color(black).Im in construction and everyone who works there is wearing orange.If I used that phrase(Orange is the new black)no one would understand it.Focus more on the setting of the show and less on the phrase itself and you will find the subliminal racial message that the media heaps upon American people who don’t have the wherewithal to look beyond the words to see the truth.

  6. Is time to be realistic ;ignorance is the basis for many mistakes.on the other hand, instinct is ugly but true and mine tells me to dislike blacks in whatever position they are in society except when they are in their natural habitat

  7. Loved this show from the beginning to the end!!!! You could have called it anything and it would still be great!!! I can’t wait for the new season…..#orangemetodeath

  8. “Now, the title, Orange is the New Black, isn’t saying that going to prison is cool or anything like that (even though that would be closer to literal).”
    This is the FIRST thing that came to my mind when I heard it. I am not easily offended but given the HIGH incarceration rates in this country I think the title HIGHLY irresponsible BUT that is just my opinion.

  9. What load of bull is this? “the new Black” has nothing to do with fashion. It has all to do with non-Blacks literally trying to justify themselves as “lesser in society” in comparison to how African Americans (and Blacks across the world) are viewed by the dominate society. Its the Oppression Olympics, where all these non-Blacks are trying to out-compete centuries of historical mistreatment, systematic dehumanization and genocide of Blacks. The orange jumpsuit can always come off. Black skin doesnt.