Prison comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black is Netflix’s latest attempt at getting viewers to binge-watch an original series, after the successes of House of Cards and Arrested Development (2.0). Viewers accustomed to watching box-set DVDs or streaming HBO shows are no strangers to the just-one-more-episode mentality, and Netflix facilitates this (like a good enabler) by automatically playing the next episode.
So what’s it like to be a writer on a show that’s basically the entertainment version of crack? We asked Nick Jones, a story editor and writer for OITNB.
“I posted something on my Facebook about how it took us a year to bake a cake that most people seemed to eat in one bite,” Mr. Jones told OTR. “I was trying to express a sense of awe that so much work could be consumed and judged so quickly.”
And in this case, the quick consumption has led to overwhelmingly positive judgment. (One friend explained on a recent Monday morning that the dark circles under her eyes were the result of staying up until she had watched all 13 episodes. It was 7 a.m. when she finally shut her computer and got ready for work.)
“Releasing all episodes at once is a nerve-wracking proposition in many ways,” Mr. Jones said, but it allowed “the phenomenon of instant fandom.” And instant fandom meant instant feedback, expressed through serious television criticism, tweets and GIFs.
“The first couple of days after the premiere, we were all online in the writer’s group just watching the reaction come out of the Internet,” Mr. Jones said. “To see scenes you wrote turned into animated GIFs has got to be one of the greatest joys you can experience as a TV writer, second only to seeing people talk about the characters like they’re real people.”