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Great Reviews and Word of Mouth Have Made "Orange is the New Black" Netflix's Most Watched Show So Far

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | July 24, 2013 | Comments ()


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Besides a “That 70’s Show” relic, a star turned drug-addict, Jason Biggs — who has zero clout and in fact, might have even turned away viewers if it’s all they knew about a show — and showrunner Jenji Kohan (a name only a few recognize, and most associate with the flailing last few seasons of “Weeds”), there wasn’t a lot about “Orange is the New Black” that seemed like a huge draw. It seemed kind of maybe like the female version of “Oz,” or Nancy Botwin’s prison year made into a full-length series. In fact, websites like this one had not built in a lot of time to devote to the show because we had expected maybe a minor, amusing summer show that we’d leisurely pace through over the course of July. I tuned in the Thursday it debuted expecting to watch one or two episodes, maybe, and offer a review the following Monday.

Instead, I’d finished the entire series within 48 hours, and Sarah and Joanna — neither of whom had huge expectations, either — finished it soon thereafter. In fact, the only reason most people didn’t binge on it like Ron Swanson on a meat stick is because they wanted to savor it. It’s definitely one of those shows that is fun to savor.

Turns out, too, that despite the lack of expectations, the hype of “Arrested Development” or the star power of “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” actually was watched more than both of those shows (and that other one that no one likes) during its first week, according to a statement from the company during an earnings call (via All Things D).

“Arrested Development” did better in its first week than “House of Cards” did in its first week, both in terms of viewer numbers and hours viewed. That isn’t a huge surprise, because “House of Cards” was a new show, and “Arrested Development” was a reboot of a series with a big fan base.

But “Orange Is the New Black,” which debuted earlier this month, did better than any other show Netflix has released.

And that is surprising.

While “Orange Is the New Black” got glowing reviews, many of which argued that the women’s prison dramedy may be Netflix’s best series to date,* it got very little hype. Especially compared to “House of Cards” and “Arrested Development,” which featured tons of famous names and lots of high-profile marketing.

That really is a testament to the greatness of “Orange is the New Black” and the way it has elicited immense word of mouth from both viewers and critics. It doesn’t hurt, either, that there was never any pressure to finish “Orange is the New Black” in order to keep up with the Internet. The Facebook/Twitter response I saw to “House of Cards” was “It’s been 10 hours since it’s release, and I’m already finished! Why haven’t you, you lazy asshole?” while the social media response to “Arrested Development” was mostly, “When is this going to get better?” (The fourth or fifth episode!), while the response to “Orange is the New Black” has mostly been, “I can’t wait to get home and watch another episode.”

Indeed, the show has not been talked to death or spoiled. It feels like a show that belongs to the viewer, instead of the Internet. Weirdly, despite it being about felons in prison, the show has a wildly personal feel that I can quite explain and yet, viewers aren’t trying to claim ownership over it. It’s just a great goddamn show, and if you haven’t seen “Orange is the New Black” yet, here are 10 Reasons You Should.




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Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • dreamlife613

    I knew this would be awesome when they released the trailer. I said then that this would be the new Lost/The Wire for me, and having finished it, I believe it is true. So good, especially if you're a female viewer. It's not often to see such fantastic roles for actresses on TV.

    FYI, never thought I'd say this about characters in a women's prison, but it says something about this show that I could see myself being friends with everyone in the ensemble (well, except the creepy COs)

  • alwaysanswerb

    I am tickled by how Taylor Schilling went from Zac Efron to Jason Biggs and Laura Prepon (yeow!)

    (in case it's not clear: upgrade!)

  • Yocean

    My old co-worker and good friend works at Net Flix original TV content development. I sent the link to this page and asked him to thank whoever controbuted in developing this show :)

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    Tell them to make more! This kind of stuff is what's lacking in regular TV and what will make people flock to Netflix.

  • Sirilicious

    It was renewed, so that's something!

  • Aaron Schulz

    God Damn this show is awesome, that cliffhanger finisher is a rat bastard, but satisfying.

  • the_wakeful

    I may have screamed a little and kicked my feet like a small child when I realized that was the end.

  • Aaron Schulz

    I kicked a neighbor boy, it was his fault damnit

  • lowercase_ryan

    I cannot tell you how happy the success of this show makes me. Not only is everyone involved with it deserving, but the message it sends to content providers about quality programming and risk/reward is great for all of us in the long run.

    I remember scoffing when I heard Netflix was planning to get into original programming. I know nothing apparently.

  • IngridToday

    It's also the first show that has a nearly all (large)female cast, with different races, body types, orientations, religious, personalities, and back stories. The main character is the only woman in a relationship, unlike most shows, her relationship is not defined by "does he like me/why won't he commit".

    It's also the most realistic portray of women's sexuality/lesbian/bi/and transgendered people.

  • Aaron Schulz

    hey now, nicky has relationships!

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    Oh man, this show. I thought I'd just take it an episode a day...you know, be civilised about it, but nooooo...slept at 5 a.m.! Also, I'd totally be Alex's drug mule if she asked me with that mischievous smile and those glasses.

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    I'm trying to watch this slowly so I savor it, but I'm already at episode 8 and I'm loving every minute of it. Captain Janeway KILLS it.

    And I only started watching because both Pajiba and Uproxx talked about it so much I had to go home and try it. I'm so glad I did.

  • apsutter

    Janeway's in it?! Hell yea!

  • Aaron Schulz

    right?! i knew kate mulgrew was a decent actor and played janeway well most of the time, but damn can she rock a russian accent

  • BabyBearStrikesAgain

    I love how much fun she seems to be having in the role. She cut and colored her hair that eye-searing color for the role too!

  • Aaron

    Where do these comparisons come from and where does that POS Hemlock Grove fall? I'm just curious because of Hemlock Grove's renewal.

    Ok, just found an article that says Hemlock Grove did better than House of Cards and mentioned that house of Cards opened super bowl weekend, an important caveat. Orange is the New Black was also well placed, with very little great television on when it was released. That's not to take away from Orange is the New Black (I love it), but there are a lot of factors at play.

  • Rachel

    We just finished the whole series, and it has definitely left us wanting more. We loved it!

  • I myself am savouring the moment until I start to savour this show. Hell I'm still savouring my way through the new Arrested Development season, which is the one I was slavering over like a fool pre-release, thinking that I'd be a slave to it as soon as it premiered, but instead I got a bit sloppy and slowly slalomed my through the season, simultaneously slumming my way through other, slimier shit available on Netflix.

  • apsutter

    Woah....so many "S" words in that paragraph.

  • Bothari

    I am a Luddite. Do you think Netflix will put their stuff out on DVD for rent at Hastings? Sigh...

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Yes. Season one of House of Cards just came out so I can't see why they wouldn't release the other two new series. There are only three new series total. We don't talk about the other one.

  • Bothari

    Yaaaay! I'll keep an eye on the new release wall.

  • It's just a damn good show. I love it. I want more!

  • baxiwolecexo

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт...­ ­ViewMore----------------------...

    It's also the first show that has a nearly all (large)female cast,
    with different races, body types, orientations, religious,
    personalities, and back stories. The main character is the only woman
    in a relationship, unlike most shows, her relationship is not defined by
    "does he like me/why won't he commit".

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