We raised questions about the portrayal of veterans in the hit Netflix show Orange in the New Black right after the new season premiered last month. Last week, Air Force veteran Tahlia Burton published a scathing op-ed over at Task & Purpose that called out the show for making the new veteran correctional officers this season’s bad guys.
Veterans groups have been quick to agree with Burton’s assessment. An Associated Press article about the controversy lists responses from several prominent organizations:
The Veterans of Foreign Wars called the show ‘offensive.’ Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America said it will further stigmatize veterans, and Disabled American Veterans said the show is out of the touch with the reality of the veteran experience.
Dan Clare, the national spokesman for DAV and an Iraq War veteran, said, is that “Orange is the New Black” is a popular show airing at a time when many service members are returning home and looking for jobs. If the public has a negative perception of veterans, that will affect how they’re able to transition back into civilian life, he said.
VFW national commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said the show’s writers and producers chose to offend all veterans because they needed new villains.
At IAVA, policy officer Jonathan Schleifer said the show’s producers are unfortunately telling stories that will further stigmatize a community that has been through so much. Biedrzycki said the “deranged veteran story line” must change and he asked for an apology.
Orange is the New Black producer Jenji Kohan has long been known as an equal-opportunity offender. Over the interminable eight seasons of Weeds on Showtime, the writer found a way to skewer every random target that seemed to pop into her head.
Obviously, the nation is currently dealing with the fallout from brutal and inexcusable attacks on the police carried out by veterans. The timing on this plot line seems especially poor.
Are you offended by veteran villains on Orange is the New Black? If so, will you continue to watch the show? Conversely, do you think civilian viewers are smart enough to realize that a few bad veterans in a TV show don’t represent the overwhelming majority of the men and women who served? Let us know what you think. Sound off.