Orange is the New Black, one of the regular contenders for the best-thing-on-TV prize, is back for its fourth season, which hits Netflix today. Netflix continues to be coy about its viewing data. But given that the show has already been renewed for another three years after this one, the figures must be adding up somehow. And, whatever else can be said about OITNB, its success proves – in case there was any doubt about it – that defiantly and joyously female-centric shows have as much of a place as anything else does in the Golden Age. I intended to review the last season but it didn’t quite work out. Maybe this time.
I’m still not in favour of binge-watching and boxset culture, though, Netflix and Amazon Prime notwithstanding – why not just watch things when they’re on and, y’know, wait a week for the next episode? But I have to recognise that I’m becoming more and more of an anachronism. The BBC, too, is bowing to the inevitable, and today releases all six episodes of new drama The Living and the Dead onto the iPlayer as a boxset, prior to conventional broadcast later in June.
And this in itself is an illustration of how times are changing: even three years ago, a show co-created by Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham, the men behind the Life on Mars-Ashes to Ashes phenomenon, would have got the full front-cover-of-Radio-Times/what’s-going-to-happen-next-week? treatment. Now, though, anyone who’s interested will be able to breeze through it in a couple of evenings, well before it’s shown on TV, to the extent that “shown on TV” means anything nowadays. This might, of course, be because it isn’t very good, and the BBC wants to burn it off; I have no idea, although an 1890’s-set supernatural drama doesn’t, on the face of it, push my buttons. Either way it still strikes me as a symbolic surrendering of the metaphorical watercooler.